Friday 07 April 2017
For those unaware of Alpina, it could be easy to dismiss the XD3 as just another BMW SUV. Upon first glance, it looks like a X3, and though it is based on a BMW, it certainly isn’t one.
Underneath the bonnet sits the same 3.0-litre straight-six diesel you’ll find in the flagship X3 35d, but it’s been uprated by Alpina to produce an astonishing 345bhp. The result is a car that, until the Bentley Bentayga Diesel arrived, carried the title of the world’s fastest diesel 4x4.
It isn’t just quick though, as Alpina has given both the interior and exterior of the XD3 a fair amount of tweaking too.
In this world of sometimes garish SUVs, the Alpina is certainly a stealthier choice. Yes, it does cost £56,000, but to the everyday passer-by it’s just a mid-range BMW – smart, but nothing too over the top.
Get a bit closer though, and you’ll notice a more aggressive front splitter as well as large chrome quad exhausts sat at the rear. The first things you’ll see, however, are the 20-inch multi-spoke alloys that give the XD3 a real amount of presence on the road.
Inside, it’s a similarly subtle story. There’s some nice coloured stitching on the steering wheel and Alpina trademark blue dials, but for the most part it’s a quiet affair – there’s no great exuberance to be found here.
As the XD3 is pretty much identical to the X3, it gets the standard car’s excellent practicality levels. The boot is a useful 550 litres, though you can fold down the rear seats and increase this space to 1,600 litres.
Leave those rear seats raised, however, and you’ll have more than enough room to transport four adults in comfort. We’d recommend teaming the black interior with a panoramic sunroof, however, as without it the cabin does have a tendency to feel a little oppressive.
The way the Alpina gets down the road is hard to believe. The acceleration is brutal, but it’s backed up by a good degree of cornering prowess, too. You may think that to make the XD3 corner so smartly that Alpina would have had to fit rock-hard suspension, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, the large alloy wheels do mean you feel a fair few potholes, but for the most part the XD3 feels effortlessly comfortable on the road.
The Alpina is fast and well-specified inside. At £56,450, it’s nearly £9,000 more expensive than the X3 35d that it is based on. However, for that money you do get good deal more equipment, as well as that all-important added performance.
Standard equipment includes two-zone air conditioning, 20-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation and sports seats. Leather upholstery is a no-cost option, too.
The XD3 is definitely a niche product, but if you’re looking for something that isn’t run-of-the-mill but peerlessly fast, then the Alpina could be for you. It feels solid, is good to drive and relatively economical too. Add in its excellent practicality, and the XD3 proves that it’s a viable alternative to established sporty SUVs.
Model as tested: Alpina XD3 Biturbo
Price as tested: £61,665
Max speed: 156mph
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