Typically, fast cars tend to be very thirsty, very expensive to run and they’re usually bad for the planet. However, Alpina likes to build cars that can be all things to all people and the D3 is its latest offering.
Alpina takes the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel found in BMW’s 335d and extensively reworks it, adding its own ECU and software for good measure. It replaces the one large turbocharger found on the standard engine with two smaller ones to improve throttle response.
Despite a huge torque figure of 700Nm and a 0-60mph time of just 4.4 seconds, the D3 gets 53mpg on the combined cycle and emits just 139g/km – not bad for a big, powerful diesel estate.
It also reworks the suspension so there’s a silky smooth ride despite the large alloy wheels.
Looks & Image
To the uninitiated, Alpinas look very similar to the BMWs they’re based on. But look carefully and you’ll spot subtle touches such as the iconic multi-spoke alloy wheel design, a prominent front spoiler and quad Akrapovic exhaust pipes.
It’s a masterclass in a ‘less is more’ approach to exterior modifying. It also feels like you’re part of a small club while driving it, as people who recognise it as an Alpina give a knowing nod of approval, while most don’t even notice. It’s part of the brand’s charm.
Space & Practicality
Performance, economy and loads of space make this the ideal ‘one-car garage’.
Boot space is a respectable 495 litres, which rises to 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded flat. An added bonus is the split-opening boot lid, which allows quick access to items in the rear without having to fully open the boot.
Behind the Wheel
If you’re expecting to just find a BMW with a bit more power, you’ll be very surprised. Thanks to Alpina’s comprehensive work, the D3 feels totally different to the car it’s based on.
Most noticeable is the ride. Despite our test car’s 20-inch alloy wheels, its ability to iron out bumps in the road is impressive.
The powertrain is also a delight, thanks to its ability to throw you down the road at immense speed while still offering impressive fuel economy. The standout figure is that 700Nm of torque, which means that overtaking is quick and easy. In-gear performance is exemplary, making motorway driving a breeze.
But when the roads narrow and get more twisty, the handling impresses. The thin-rimmed steering wheel is also a welcome addition when compared to the chunky equivalent on BMW M models.
Value for Money
The base price for the Alpina D3 Touring is £49,950. For your money you get exterior decals, leather upholstery and air conditioning. Aluminium roof rails and heated seats are welcome standard features that feel like good value at this price point.
However, it’s easy to push that price up with options. Our car was £58,115 – extras included 20-inch alloy wheels for £860, a full professional media package for £1,500 and a panoramic sunroof for £1,180. Most of these aren’t necessary as the standard equipment should be enough for most buyers.
When you take into consideration the time and effort that goes into re-engineering the BMW 3 Series to create this car, that price starts to look like good value for money.
Who would buy one ?
The Alpina D3 Touring is ideal for people who want to be able to travel quickly without attracting too much attention. It’ll also appeal to families because it’s an estate, so space is plentiful. Add in excellent running costs and the D3 ticks an awful lot of boxes.
Facts at a Glance
Model: Alpina D3 Bi-Turbo Touring Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel Transmission: Eight-speed automatic Performance: 0 – 60mph in 4.4 seconds, 188mph top speed Economy: 53mpg (combined cycle) Emissions: 139g/km CO2