BMW Australia has updated us on the feasibility study it has been working on with specialist tuner Alpina, to bring a line of the company’s performance-tuned cars here.
You may recall our chat with Alpina in Frankfurt last September, in which the lauded, independent tuning company confirmed its interest in expanding to Australia.
We recently asked BMW Australia managing director Marc Werner to update us on how the plan was progressing.
“We are in discussions with Alpina, and we are currently finalising our feasibility study,” he said. “We bought in one vehicle for testing and homologation purposes.”
As we know, a registration for the BMW 4 Series-based Alpina F32 B4 BiTurbo was forwarded to a government website late last year. This version sports a 3.0-litre force-fed six with 301kW/600Nm on tap — pitching it between the 225kW BMW 435i and 317kW M4. The claimed 0-100km/h sprint time is a sprightly 4.2 seconds.
“We have not made any announcement yet, however you can expect sooner or later we will make one about launching the BMW Alpina brand in Australia,” Werner added. He would not be drawn on whether we’d get confirmation this year.
Expect the Alpina brand to roll out slowly, with one or two models at first, sold in specialist BMW Australia dealers.
“We will probably focus [on a small number of cars], you need to build a brand and establish a brand, obviously it comes with substantial investment in the dealer network and marketing to get communications out there.”
BMW Alpina would make a nice sideline to the company’s booming BMW M Division, which eclipsed a record-breaking 1000 sales in Australia last year. The Australian market is extremely strong for performance models — one of the world’s biggest on a proportional basis.
Naturally, questions remain. What might Alpinas cost here? More than BMW M cars? How many BMW Australia dealers will service and sell Alpinas? Will there be a long wait for parts? All of this is obviously being explored and finalised.
50-year old Alpina is based in Bavaria, near BMW. But unlike BMW’s M division, it is not a subsidiary brand. It does, however, work closely with BMW and its processes are integrated into the same production lines.
Alpina is recognised by the German Ministry of Transport as an automobile manufacturer, in contrast to many other performance specialists which are registered as aftermarket tuners.
BMW Alpina models include the D3 BiTurbo and B3 BiTurbo models based on the 3 Series sedan or wagon, the D4 BiTurbo and B4 BiTurbo based on the 4 Series coupe and convertible, the D5 BiTurbo and B5 BiTurbo based on the 5 Series range, the B6 BiTurbo based on the 6 Series and the new B7 BiTurbo 7 Series.
BMW Alpina models, recognisable by their distinctive wheels, are pitched as luxury-focused and classy performance cars, as opposed to the more raw, track-honed M cars made in-house.
The company says it made a record 1700 units last year, so it's very small. Expect around 50 units a year or so to make it to Australia, based on our previous talks with the company.
The BMW Alpina B7 (pictured above) is the closest you can get at present to anything like a BMW M7. Its 4.4 litre 8-cylinder engine with Bi-Turbo charging delivers 447kW and 800Nm. It's also AWD. The claimed 0-100km/h sprint time is a staggering 3.7 seconds.
Any BMW Alpina fans out there getting excited? Let us know in the comments below...