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Driven: Alpina B5 goes Touring

Alpina B5 Touring wagon will not outsell sedan locally despite global success

30 Jul 2019

ALPINA Automobiles Australia has said it does not expect the new B5 Touring to outsell its sedan counterpart locally, despite the wagon version proving to be more popular overseas.


Since launching in late 2017, Alpina has sold around 500 examples of the Touring compared to 300 of the sedan, however when asked if the same trend was expected to happen in Australia, Alpina Automobiles Australia sales manager Phil Jeffrey said that was not the case.


“Certainly not to that extent, we believe the B5 Touring is going to be a real drawcard for the Alpina brand in Australia, being the fact that it’s literally a high-performance sedan in a wagon guise which is what the public love, but you’ve got to look at what the Australian market is all about, and obviously SUV for our demographic right now is what’s hot,” he said.


“So Touring wagons are really cool, and they’ve been a great point of difference from the BMW line-up with Alpina, but it’s probably not going to be a high volume-seller for us.


“It’s a hard one because we haven’t had a B5 Touring before, we have had B3 Tourings and we did quite well, but we still sold more sedans than Tourings in the B3 market.”


When asked what the primary reason behind bringing the B5 Touring here was, Mr Jeffrey said it was to fill a niche – one of Alpina’s primary functions – with the B5 Touring the only BMW wagon available with a V8 engine.


“Alpina is all about finding a niche market. And certainly with B5 Touring, a 5 Series with that amount of performance, yet offering a Touring variant which is the only option you would have if you are after a BMW wagon with power at that level – (that is) absolutely (why it was brought here).”


Priced at $217,000 plus on-road costs, the B5 Touring commands a $7000 premium over the sedan version, but still undercuts the BMW M5 Competition which charges $229,900.


Meanwhile Mercedes-AMG’s entrant in the segment, the E63 S sedan, is the most expensive competitor at $240,900.


Using the 540i Touring as a donor vehicle then adding a number of enhancements, starting with a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that differs from the M5’s powerplant in a number of ways, including larger intercoolers, different exhaust and a unique tune.


While the M5 Competition develops 460kW/750Nm, the B5 Touring pumps out 447kW/800Nm, with an emphasis on more torque and greater applicable power from lower in the rev range.


Sprinting from zero to 100km/h in the B5 Touring takes just 3.7 seconds – 0.2s slower than the sedan – while topping out at 322km/h, just shy of the sedan’s 330km/h.


Mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, power is channelled to all four wheels via the rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive system with a unique Alpina-specific ESC tune.


Aiding handling, the B5 Touring differs from the M5 Competition with the addition of rear-wheel steering, which aids manoeuvrability at low speeds and increases stability at high speeds.


The B5 features a more comfort-oriented suspension set-up than the M5 with Bilstein front dampers, rear air suspension and variable damping that includes an extra-plush Comfort Plus setting.


B5 Touring variants provide owners with a handy 570L of storage space – 40L more than the sedan – which expands to 1700L with the 40/20/40 rear bench folded.


Standard equipment in the B5 Touring mirrors the sedan and includes 20-inch forged alloy wheels with the signature 20-spoke Alpina design and unique Pirelli rubber, Alpina front and rear bumpers, a roof-mounted wind deflector, quad-exit tailpipes, adaptive LED headlights, LED tail-lights and foglights, Alpina door sills and a unique build plaque complete with the individual examples’s production number.


Inside, the B5 scores a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, keyless entry and start, four-zone climate control, comfort seats with front electric adjustment and memory functionality, a 12-speaker audio system, front and rear heated seats, Nappa leather upholstery, an Alpina-specific steering wheel with branded stitching, an Alpina instrument cluster and ambient interior lighting.


Safety-wise, the B5 carries over all the active technology from the 5 Series including the Driving Assistant and Driving Assistant Plus suite, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, surround-view cameras, rain-sensing wipers and tyre pressure monitoring.


A number of options are available as well, including the expensive Lavalina leather upholstery which Alpina says is comparable to Rolls-Royce in quality, ventilated front seats, television functionality and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system.


2019 Alpina B5 pricing*

Saloon (a) $210,000
Touring (a) $217,000

*Excludes on-road costs

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