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You say Al-PEEN-uh, I say Al-PINE-uh, let's call the whole thing off. Alpina just unveiled a triple threat of twisted BMWs that promise M-series-like performance with an individual flair. As much as we begged and pleaded, Alpina sales honcho Kris Odwarka says we won't see any of these hot new BMW-based specials in the States anytime soon. Something about the intricacies of dealer regulations means that it would be very difficult for a small manufacturer like Alpina to make the numbers work on anything but the brilliant B7 right now. And with the new range of B3 Biturbo, B5 S and B6 S so mouthwateringly good on paper, we would love the chance to sample one Stateside. But alas, we must go wanting.
While we never really cared for a couple of their trademark styling touches, we understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and people buying specialty vehicles prefer Picasso as much as they like Thomas Kinkade. The one thing we can't argue with is the performance reputation that Alpina has built for itself over the past 30 years. They take what BMW is offering, which is already great in most cases, and along with ZF get the most they can out of what they are given. They've gotten their automatic gearshifts down to 100 milliseconds, for instance, rivaling or besting many factory DSG-type auto manuals on the market.
The 3.0L six in the B3 Biturbo is now putting out 360 HP, compared to 265 from the unblown unit. That also happens to best the BMW 335i's 300, in case you were wondering. And in the 5 and 6, they took the V8 from 390 to 540 HP! Considering that these engines are then fitted with virtually any bodystyle in the lineup and it's enough to make you forget the letter "M" altogether. Pity more won't be coming to the US.