A new generation ALPINA B3 is introduced with every BMW M3 generation. Fans, journalists, and enthusiasts will often compare the two. This has happened to every M3/B3 generation. This one is a little different for two reasons.
ALPINA B3 and the new G80-generation BMW M3 look very different. They are powered by variants of the same engine. Another first. Let’s have a closer look at the cars and see their specifications.
This new generation of M3 is the first to wear BMW’s massive new kidney grille. It’s a design cue that’s been criticized mercilessly since its debut. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I think it’s hideous but I don’t care in the slightest, I’d buy one tomorrow. It’s that good to drive. While I’m not here to rag on the new grille, it is worth mentioning because the ALPINA doesn’t have it. Because both ALPINA and M Division products typically look a lot like the standard BMWs on which they’re based, they usually look relatively similar.
The ALPINA B3 is a completely different design from the 3er. It has a G20 3 Series grille, headlights that are shaped like beaver teeth, and 4 Series lights. The ALPINA B3 is more in line with what we expected it to look like, a 3 Series that’s more aggressive. The 3er’s grille, headlights and other features are still present. However, the ALPINA B3 has some unique touches. Although styling can be subjective so I cannot speak for all, the B3 looks far more professional.
The BMW M3 is overly aggressive but also kind of sloppy; its grilles don’t mesh well with the rest of the front end, the rear fender flares end too abruptly at the doors as if BMW forgot to extend them, and the fake fender vents look unnecessarily fussy. Whereas the ALPINA B3 is smooth, sophisticated, and handsome, all while still maintaining enough aggression to let onlookers know it’s something special. It also shows us how much of a missed opportunity this new G80 M3 is, as it would have looked great had it just kept the 3 Series’ face.
The BMW M3 will be your best choice if you are looking for a car that is aggressively designed, and one that looks like it’s going to punch you in the face. The BMW M3 is a more subtle car than the BMW M3. It has an aggressive look that will only hint at its power beneath the skin and not shout it. You are likely to prefer the ALPINA if you are a classic BMW fan.
See the Specifications
Under the hood, both the BMW M3 and ALPINA B3 use the same engine — the M Division’s S58 engine. This is a first for ALPINA, as it’s always used standard BMW engines and modified them to make M Division levels of power. Typically, BMW M doesn’t lend out its engines. It has done in this case, though, as they both use the S58. That said, the M3 makes more power with it.
There are two power options for the BMW M3, Competition and standard. Standard car produces 473 horsepower, 406 lbft torque and the M3 Competition generates 503 horsepower with 479 lbft. The ALPINA B3 produces 458 horsepower, which is less than the M3. However, it makes up the difference with 516 lb-ft torque. It should be every bit as powerful as the M3 because it is.
BMW was kind to offer the standard version of the M3 with a manual transmission, as it keeps the tradition alive. It was the car I thought I would want the most. I was wrong. It’s good but the BMW M3 Competition, despite using an eight-speed automatic, is the superior driving car. The ALPINA B3 only makes do with the eight-speed auto. Though, it does have a distinct advantage over the current M3 Competition — all-wheel drive. The B3 powers all four wheels, while the M3 only powers its two rears. That will admittedly change, when the M3 offers xDrive in the near future.
The G80 BMW M3 Competition, and ALPINA B3 both run at 0-60mph in just 3.8 seconds. This is the rear-wheel-drive M3. BMW claims that the M3 all-wheel drive can sprint the race in just 3.4 seconds. Both cars still run shockingly fast.
Which one is best?
Honestly, this is an impossible question for me, as I literally can’t test the ALPINA B3, due to it not being sold here in the ‘States. With that said, I can say that the two cars offer very different versions of essentially the same thing and that you really have to choose which car best suits your desires. The BMW M3 is a brutally fast, almost absurdly competent performance machine. The brutality and efficiency with which is demolishes a road reminds me more of a Nissan GT-R than a classic M car; the grip is relentless, the power is instantaneous, and its responses are as immediate as immediate gets.
ALPINA B3 is more refined, comfortable and as quick, although it’s slower. Although I’ve not driven the ALPINA B3, it is easy to combine my driving experience with ALPINAs and the G20 3 Series for an educated guess. ALPINAs have a lot more refinement, comfort, style, and grace than their M Division counterparts, so I don’t think the B3 will be any different.
If my assessment of the ALPINA B3 is correct, it’d be my choice. The G80 M3 Competition is one of the best driving machines the M Division has ever built but the ALPINA B3 is just more my style, especially considering it looks about a thousand times better. However, I couldn’t blame anyone for choosing the ballistic M3. A couple of rapid twisty roads is enough to put a smile on even the most die-hard of M3 haters. But the style and ALPINA-ness of the B3 get me.
Publiated at Sun, 01 August 2021 02:49.08 +0000