We all have that one friend who likes things just because they’re different. That friend probably likes Alpina, a BMW offshoot that has been adding a unique touch to Bavaria’s best for years.
The $149,990 B4 S is a heady mix of performance and luxury. It is also the last bastion of the N55 generation, 3.0-litre straight six. Alpina-specific turbos and a new piston crown cooling system bumps power up to 324kW and torque to an earth-moving 660Nm (that’s 60Nm more than the M4 CS).
It’s enough to propel the eight-speed ZF-auto-equipped coupe to 100km/h in 4.2sec before topping out at 306km/h. So far, it’s all sounding very M4-esque.
While there’s no doubting the fact it is fast, the reality is it never feels as quick as all the numbers suggest. Still, 660Nm makes it a torque monster and the N55 does its best work in the swelling mid-range.
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The specifically tuned auto is happy to oblige and allow you to ride the wave between 3000-4500rpm in higher gears. It sounds good, too, with a meaty overrun filled with purposeful burbles. However, that’s from the outside only. A chirp from the blow-off valve is about the only acoustic excitement you hear from within the cabin.
Dynamically there’s a more mature persona at play here. The M4 is a hungry grizzly, while the Alpina is the (somewhat) cuddly bear. Fitted with adaptive dampers (and scrapping run-flat tyres), the B4 S has real compliance to its ride quality at speed – especially in Comfort mode. It only becomes fussy in CBD driving thanks to the 30-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 S boots wrapping 20-inch ‘classic’ wheels.
The Michelin rubber offers ample grip in all conditions and the standard-fit LSD aids getting all that torque to the ground – no single peggers here.
The wheels, pin striping, dash-mounted production plaque and the blue and green stitching binding the leather-wrapped steering wheel are all traditional styling cues of the BMW tuner. Although sadly the tiller isn’t an M Sport item and Alpina has added vexing shift buttons for manual mode.
Buttery soft, cream cow hide covers just about every surface – as does love-it-or-hate-it woodgrain – and the overall ambience is upmarket. The B4 S also utilises some of the LCI updates for the iDrive infotainment from the 4 Series.
Rated and tested on MOTOR reviews
Ultimately the Alpina B4 S offers a luxe experience, entertaining dynamics and a ride quality its M counterpart could only dream of. The trouble is, for $10K less you can buy an M4 Pure, which is a more competent and exciting performance coupe – if not a little more mainstream.
2018 ALPINA B4 S SPECS:
Engine: 2979cc inline 6, DOHC, 24v, twin-turbo
Power: 324kW @ 5500-6250rpm
Torque: 660Nm @ 3000-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 4.2sec (claimed)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars