Another superb fast diesel from Alpina, but whatâ€™s the long-term prognosis for the best-known tuner of BMWs?
If thereâ€™s such a thing as a sexy diesel just now, chances are it will have an Alpina badge on it. The extra breadth brought by Alpina to BMWâ€™s base cars has traditionally made their products more attractive and commercially valid.
But is that the case with this new D5 Sportdiesel? Are Alpinaâ€™s efforts to improve on the (excellent) standard vehicle becoming increasingly strained?
The D5 Sâ€™s sequentially-twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel engine has 322bhp, which is a useful uplift on the 260bhp dished out by the standard range-topping BMW 530d xDrive M Sport. With the 516lb ft of torque thatâ€™s on tap from just 1750rpm, the near-1.9 tonne D5 shoves itself up the road at a suitably rude rate.
Alpina D5 S
Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel
Power: 322bhp at 4000-5000rpm
Torque: 516lb ft at 1750-2500rpm
Gearbox: 8-spd tiptronic automatic
Kerb weight: 1870kg
Top speed: 171mph
CO2 emissions: 161g/km
Slightly annoyingly, non-UK D5 S owners in Europe get 383bhp and 590lb ft courtesy of BMWâ€™s tri-turbo diesel engine, an engine never sold inÂ UK-spec 5 SeriesÂ cars. Still, even the UK-spec D5 S will do the 0-62mph in under five seconds and approach 45mpg on the motorway, with only a little too much tyre roar from the classic 20-inch multi-spoke alloys spoiling the peace.
Alpina has always been adept at ride tuning, and despite those big wheels the D5 S wafts convincingly along most roads. Modified suspension geometry has put extra negative camber on the front axle. On the test vehicle, the D5â€™s stiffer springs worked with adaptive dampers which have aÂ Comfort Plus mode that out-softs the equivalent mode in a regular G30 BMW 5 Series. The D5â€™s strong wheel control replaces some of the driving confidence forfeited by steering thatâ€™s short on feel.
For us, this first all-wheel-drive diesel Alpina (marked by the typical transmission tunnel plaque now reading â€˜Allradâ€™) veers too much toward sheer grip rather than chassis adjustability, another indicator perhaps that the car could â€“ and, in mainland Europe, does â€“ take more power. Alpinaâ€™s in-house dynamic traction control tries to put things right by biasing more torque to the rear, a satisfying enough solution on damp roads but not a complete answer.
For those looking for straightforward pace allied to security, such distinctions wonâ€™t matter all that much. Owners will be gleaning plenty of satisfaction from the standard-setting eight-speed ZF torque-converter automatic gearbox and the superb body control that make swift progress so easy. The D5 feels more like a well-sorted 3 SeriesÂ than anyÂ 5 Series, with the possible exception of the M5.
Inside, the only word to describe the D5 S is sumptuous. Once youâ€™re done admiring the wonderful detailing â€“Â most notably the digital instrument display from the 5 Series, vibrantly reprofiled in Alpina colours and changingÂ with each new driving mode â€“Â youâ€™ll marvel at the softness and support of the leather seats.
Thereâ€™s a price to pay for exclusivity. A D5 S costs Â£62,000, but it doesnâ€™t after youâ€™ve visited the options shop. Adaptive dampers with electronically actuated stabilisers come in at Â£1785. Weâ€™d probably tick that box, but weâ€™d be less sure about laying out Â£995 for the four-wheel steering system thatâ€™s designed to boost agility at speed and manoeuvrability.
Alpina decals are a no-cost addition, as youâ€™d expect, but things like the head-up display, heated seats, powered tailgate and Apple CarPlay all cost extra. The car youâ€™re looking at here costs a chin-stroking Â£86,690, perilously close to the Â£90k or so M5 and way above the new 282bhp V6 diesel Audi A7 Sportback at about Â£55,000. As ever, itâ€™s for the individual to decide on the value of specialist cars like the D5 S.
Every year, 1600 cars arrive at Buchloe in Bavaria with a blue-and-white roundel on their bonnets and leave the Alpina works with a carburettors-and-crankshaft badge. The worrying thing for Alpinaâ€™s 240 workers (and to some extent its customers, looking at it from a residual values perspective) is that most of those 1600 cars are diesel-powered.
Another area of concern is that this D5, while incredibly broad-shouldered in its own right, is dramatically shaded by the petrol-powered B5 Biturbo. Letâ€™s hope it doesnâ€™t get torpedoed by negative attitudes.