It isn’t very often that you get your cake and eat it. Fast cars, in general, tend to be very thirsty, very expensive to run and are usually bad for the planet. However, Alpina tends to try to create cars that can be all things to all people and this is its latest – the D3 Touring.
What Alpina does is take the 3.0-litre straight-six diesel found in BMW’s 335d and extensively rework it, adding its own ECU and software. It also specifies two, smaller turbochargers for better throttle response, rather than one large one. Despite offering an incredible 700Nm of torque and a 0-60mph time of 4.4 seconds, the D3 will crack 53mpg on a combined cycle, as well as emitting just 139g/km CO2 – not bad for a heavy diesel estate.
Another key element that Alpina reworks heavily is the suspension. Despite riding on large alloy wheels, Alpinas always have an impressively comfortable ride.
Looks and image
Alpinas are subtly different to the BMW cars upon which they are based. Look closely and you’ll see small touches such as a prominent spoiler at the front of the car, while at the rear four Akrapovic exhaust pipes give a hint about the car’s performance. The large multi-spoke alloy wheels also fill the arches just correctly.
It’s a masterclass in how to give a car a few small upgrades but instantly change its perception on the road. People who know cars know Alpinas, and that’s why in the D3 you’ll find yourself getting either nods of appreciation, or completely blank stares from people who dismiss it as a normal 3 Series Estate. It’s a distinct part of the car’s charm.
Inside, Alpina has taken the best part of BMW’s interiors such as the infotainment system and gear selector but lifted them. There’s green stitching used throughout the cabin, and the dials are an easy-to-read blue colour. It’s a fantastic place to sit.
Space and practicality
As an estate, the D3 Touring is pretty much ideal if you’re planning on travelling with lots of kit.
— Neil ALPINA register (@neilmw) January 20, 2017
Boot space is respectable at 495 litres, which rises to 1,500 litres with the rear seats folded flat. An added bonus with the rear of the car is the split-opening boot lid that allows the rear glass to open separately from the main panel. It means you have quick and easy access to items in the rear without having to open the entire boot. It’s a feature we’ve come to enjoy with the 3 Series Touring, and it’s a welcome inclusion in the D3.
There’s plenty of space in the rear of the car too, while the front is treated to plenty of cubby holes ideal for swallowing up all manner of items.
Behind the wheel
If you think this is just a breathed-on BMW, then think again. Alpina’s thorough enhancement of the base car means that it feels completely different to a normal 3 Series Estate. The element that is instantly noticeable is the ride. Despite our test car’s 20-inch alloy wheels, the car’s ability to iron out bumps in the road is impressive. Also noticeable is the lack of wind and road noise – something that helps make the car relaxing to drive.
The powertrain is also surprising, both in its ability to throw you down the road at tremendous speed and its ability to return excellent economy figures while it does so. The standout figure is that 700Nm of torque, which means that overtaking takes only a second’s thought. It also means that in-gear acceleration is always accessible, which for motorway driving is invaluable. It’s the constant surging nature of the car that impresses, and it does this while easily achieving more than 40mpg.
The car’s handling is also spot on, while the thin-rimmed steering wheel comes as a welcome change to the chunky versions found on BMW M-Sport cars.
Value for money
The base price for the Alpina D3 Touring is £49,950. For that, you get the exterior decals, leather upholstery and air conditioning. You also get aluminium roof rails and heated seats, adding up to a good standard of included equipment.
Great couple of days with this. Pretty much my perfect car. pic.twitter.com/BhDWhyQ8Om
— Jack R W Evans (@jackrober) March 9, 2017
Our test car, however, came in at £58,115. Optional extras fitted to it included 20-inch alloy wheels for £860, a full professional media package for £1,500 and a panoramic sunroof for £1,180. As standard, there is more than enough kit to keep even the keenest button-presser happy. What you have to remember is the immense amount of mechanical work that goes into making each and every Alpina car drive well. If you take that into consideration, then the D3 is well worth the money.
Who would buy one?
The Alpina D3 Touring is ideal for those people who want to be able to travel quickly without attracting too much attention to themselves. As an estate, it also offers plenty of practicality and space, which will appeal to families. Add to that very good running costs and you have a car that 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