TIME for a truth bomb. The 2020 ALPINA B5 Touring is the best wagon we’ve ever driven. Luxurious, powerful, understated, elegant and demonic. All true. Which means this might just be the ultimate sleeper.
And if you’re not looking for a sleeper car that hides enormous power and performance behind pure luxury, then what are you doing. On the flip side, you could of course see it as simply an opulent wagon.
But if that’s what you seek, you wouldn’t care that it’s powered by a 4.4-litre bi-turbo V8 petrol engine that offers up 447kW of power and 800Nm of torque. It wouldn’t phase you that it’s all-wheel drive and can smash through 100km/h in just 3.5 seconds.
You also wouldn’t bat an eyelid that it’s mated to a seamlessly good 8-speed sports auto switch-tronic gearbox that supports single-cylinder fade-out, or that it handles like a dream and corners like it’s on rails, especially at speed.
You might however be impressed by its 10.9-litres/100km claimed fuel economy (11.4-litres/100km in testing). It might bring a smile to your face that there are an insane number of customisation options on the B5 Touring as well.
For example, there are 15 exterior colours, a bunch of badging options, including having none, three wheel colours, ALPINA lettering colours, and even different roof rail finishes. And that’s just on the outside.
Inside too, there is an abundance of choice, including Lavalina leather, one of the most natural, high quality leathers available today. There are 23 seat coverings to choose from in all, more than a dozen trims, and a selection of other touches.
Then there are the optional extras like upgrading the sound system to a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond setup, adding ventilated and massaging seats, and soft close doors. You could even add that limited slip diff you know you just have to have.
Now if you’ve got this far and are wondering who ALPINA actually are and why you’ve never heard of them, just think of them as a BMW tuning house. Founded in the 1960s, they began life building aftermarket kits for the German car maker.
Fast forward to today, and ALPINA now works closely with BMW and its processes are integrated into BMW’s own production lines. Since 1983, ALPINA has also been officially registered as an automobile manufacturer.
The easiest way to describe what they do, as simply as possible, is that they take an M5 Touring, beef up the motor from its standard form, adding their own turbochargers and other key components, and tune it to be the power house that it becomes.
The BMW badge on the bonnet confirms just how closely aligned the two brands are, but never for a minute should you think that this car is just another BMW. It isn’t. ALPINA build pure driving machines to their own specifications.
Even the exhaust system that sits underneath the body is customised, and in fact is very quiet. No loud snap, crackle and pop here, and that’s not a bad thing. The 2020 ALPINA B5 Touring is pure class, with a performance bent.
Inside, it’s all about custom luxury too, with finishes that, in true ALPINA style, are exclusive to the brand. You will notice things like BMW’s infotainment system though, with the B5 running BMW Live Cockpit Professional.
You’ll also find comfort access, DAB+ digital radio, a CD player, enhanced Bluetooth with wireless charging, and an awesome harman/kardon sound system. The instrument cluster features a unique ALPINA design, and there’s a full colour head-up display.
Both the front and rear seats are heated, with the driver and passenger scoring full lumbar support, electric adjustment and memory function. The steering wheel is also heated for those cold winter mornings.
Rear seat passengers will find an abundance of space, and head and leg room throughout the cabin is outstanding for all concerned. Add in 570-litres of boot space, with the seats up, and it’s hard to fault. Fold the seats down and there’s 1,700-litres.
The boot has its own power socket, while charging ports and climate control are available for those riding in the back seats. There are cup and bottle holders aplenty and rear side window blinds that even include the little pillar windows on the back doors.
Our key rear seat tester, an 8-year-old, thought those were the coolest feature in the entire car. She did tell us the back seats were “amazingly” comfortable as well, and there was lots of room to put her things.
On the black stuff, the 2020 ALPINA B5 Touring literally destroys mountain roads, in a way we’ve never experienced. Thanks to rear-wheel steering and an exceptional AWD platform, the German machine provides an incredible cornering experience.
Scratch that, actually it’s an incredible driving experience. There are six drive modes too, including Eco Pro, Comfort and Comfort+, Sport, Sport+ and Adaptive. It means there’s something to suit every condition or style.
Two things you will notice though, there’s a chunk of turbo lag off the line under heavy acceleration (but it’s not trying to be a race car so does that really matter), and the wheels it sports feel somewhat dated.
On the safety front, there’s multiple airbags (including the ability to disable the front passenger one), BMW’s dynamic safety package, driving assistance plus, high beam assist, and high performance brakes.
There’s also emergency calling functionality, LED headlights and fog lights, and there’s even a first aid kit and a warning triangle. It has a 2000kg braked towing capacity too, should you desire to haul something behind it.
Pricing for the Touring edition starts at $217,000 plus on-roads, and while that sounds like a lot of money, and it is, we reckon it’s worth every penny. For the record, it’s cheaper than its true rivals from Porsche and Mercedes-AMG too.
And while we could prattle on for hours about how good the 2020 ALPINA B5 Touring is, and why you should buy one, we’ll simply tell you this – we’d own one in a heartbeat. It comes with a 3-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Our test vehicle was provided by ALPINA Automobiles Australia. To find out more about the 2020 ALPINA B5 Touring, contact your local ALPINA dealer.