Autocar drives the ALPINA B5 TouringJune 30, 2017
BMW hasn’t made an M5 Touring since the E60-generation, something us fans enjoy bemoaning. While BMW doesn’t feel such a car’s demand warrants production, the folks at ALPINA seem to feel otherwise. So if it’s a hot 5 Series wagon that you want, the ALPINA B5 Touring is for you.
Autocar was recently one of the very few publications invited to drive the new B5 Touring on the famous Bilster-Berg race track. While ALPINA actually does very little track testing for its cars, preferring to test on the road instead, the new B5 Touring isn’t road legal just yet, so journalists had to drive in on track. You might not think the track is the best place to test an ALPINA, as they’re usually more comfortable and luxurious cars than track-based performance machines, you’d be surprised at how well it responded.
The ALPINA B5 Touring is based on the standard BMW 5 Series Touring but is so much more than that. Under its hood lies a variant of the same 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 from the BMW 750i. Except, for B5-duty, it makes 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, thanks to new internals and beefier turbochargers. When paired with an eight-speed automatic, sourced by ZF but tuned by ALPINA to be stronger and faster, and all-wheel drive, the B5 Touring is capable of 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That’s properly quick but what’s even more impressive is that it can top out at 202 mph. So it’s a 200 mph wagon…
But it isn’t just straight-line speed. ALPINA has thoroughly-revised the suspension and steering to make sure the B5 Touring drives exactly as they want and not just like another 5 Series. So not only does it get new suspension but revised suspension geometry. ALPINA has fit entirely new front wishbones that give in an extra degree of negative camber. There’s also been revisions to the steering calibration and the rear-wheel steering.
On the track, if you’re deliberate with it and not trying to go 10/10ths, it’s an incredibly neutral-driving car. It’s also far more capable and enjoyable than you might expect such a big heavy car to be. If you try and push it as if it were an M car, it will understeer. But if you stay patient on corner entry, make smooth and deliberate steering inputs and use the power to pull you out of corners, it can be very fun.
We can’t wait for the ALPINA B5 Touring to finally be ready for the road, even though we don’t get it here in America. But the fact that there’s a 200 mph wagon based on a BMW out there in the world makes us happy.