bmw's latest, tastiest forbidden fruit
BMW’s Coolest New Car Isn’t Coming to America
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Not too long ago, BMW unveiled the face-lifted version of the 5 Series sedan — which, blessedly, has a more reasonably proportioned face than the ghastly 4-Series. Following suit, quasi-official BMW tuner Alpina has launched its own face-lifted version of the 5 Series, known as the B5. It’s available in both sedan and station wagon forms..and it’s one hell of a wagon.
The B5’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 puts out 613 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, routed through an eight-speed automatic. It can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds as a sedan or 3.6 seconds as a wagon. (Blame, we assume, the difference in weight.) For comparison, the M5 Competition produces 617 hp and 553 lb-ft and does the 0-60 mph run in 3.1 seconds. While that might make it seem like the two would cover the same niche, Alpina models are generally a little more relaxed than BMW M cars; to use a rough analogy, the B5 is a Gulfstream, the M5 is a T-38.
It’s improbable American drivers will get to taste this forbidden fruit. BMW has not brought smaller Alpina models stateside, presumably to keep them from cutting into the M models’ sales; here in the States, all we get is the full-size B7 sedan and the new XB7 SUV. The company also killed off its U.S. wagon lineup in 2018, since Americans, for whatever reason, don’t respond well to that body style.
But there could be some reason for hope. Wealthy buyers in particular have been drifting back toward wagons in recent years, and BMW dealers have been asking for a luxurious and sporty one. The B5’s closest competitors, the Mercedes AMG E63 S and the Audi RS 6 Avant, are both for sale in the U.S. in wagon form It’s not inconceivable that BMW would get back in the fray with a two-box offering more robust than the Mini Clubman JCW.
Europeans can buy the Alpina B5 now, with deliveries beginning in October 2020. Prices start around $134,000 for the sedan and $137,400 for the wagon version. We know which one we’d choose.
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