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2020 BMW Alpina B3 Touring AWD really hauls

16 September 2019 - Autoblog

2020 BMW Alpina B3 Touring AWD really hauls

Grocery-getter can scramble eggs with 456 hp and 516 lb-ft

BMW's M Division decided to steer clear of the performance wagon segment, preferring to devote resources to developing a standalone M sports car. That leaves Alpina to fill in the blank for us — and by "us" we mean Europe — with treats like the 2020 BMW Alpina B3 Touring AWD. Based on the M3401 xDrive Touring, Alpina's worked enough magic on the wagon to fill out a Tolkien novel. Some open-heart surgery turns the single-turbo S58 3.0-liter inline-six with 374 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque into a twin-turbocharged setup with 456 hp and 516 lb-ft. The current M4 makes 425 hp and 406 lb-ft.

Detailed engine mods include a remapped ECU, re-profiled turbine housings and intake system, a new cooling system, a stainless steel active exhaust with reduced back pressure, and a new gas particulate filter. The eight-speed auto remains, but with a new tune that Alpina developed with transmission maker ZF that returns quicker shift response times and shifts. Engineers reworked the programming for the xDrive and the limited-slip differential for better torque apportioning. And where the standard M340i Touring is restrained to a top speed of 155 miles per hour, the Alpina B3 Touring will run past 185 mph. For slowing down, there's a floating four-piston performance brake system in front clamping 15.5-inch rotors, and 13.6-inch rotors in back. There's even more stopping performance from the optional brake package with lightweight, drilled discs and heat-resistant pads.

The overhauled suspension goes active with three-mode Variable Damper Control, plus Eibach springs and thicker anti-roll bars. At the corners, standard fit is 19-inch Alpina wheels with a 5-by-4 multispoke design that can be upgraded to the classic Alpina 20-inch thin-spoke wheel with locking hub covers. And the German shop worked with Pirelli on a set of ultra-high-performance P Zeros exclusive to this car.

Inside, a heated Alpina steering wheel works the upgraded steering rack, the wheel fitted with Switch-Tronic shift buttons on the back for the manual shift mode. Alpina offers redesigned, CNC-machined, matte-black aluminum paddle shifters for drivers who prefer more real estate. Behind that, the 12.3-inch digital cluster comes tweaked with Alpina graphics. Hand-stitched Lavalina leather covers the seating, Alpina badging found on the backrests, floor mats, and door sills.

As is the Alpina way, the changes are just enough to make a difference. The front clip doesn't change from the M340i Touring, but does add a chin spoiler and more Alpina badging. Out back, the tailgate's been sharpened, and plastic surgery on the lower rear bumper grafts a new diffuser insert and a set of quad pipes.

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