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Alpina B10 V8 / V8S (E39)

The Alpina B10 V8 was the first Alpina to be based on the E-39 generation BMW 5-Series or more specifically the 540i. It was introduced in 1997 and received an engine treatment with the double VANOS (variable-valve timing) system in 1999. After casting a whole new block for the 4.6-litre engine that will replace the 540i's 4.4-litre unit, Alpina constructed a new crankshaft, lighter and higher-compression Mahle pistons and reprogrammed the Motronic system. The result is a nearly 60 horsepower increase that is available 1900 rpm lower than standard. With the new VANOS system the B10 V8 receives another 7 horsepower and 7 lb-ft of torque.

The gear-box is a five-speed ZF unit with the steering wheel mounted Swith Tronic system. Other modifications performed by Alpina include the twin-tube gas pressure shocks, new ventilated brake discs all around, new anti-roll bars and 18 inch wheels wrapped in 235/40 Michelins at the front and 265/35 at the rear. Other exterior differences from the 540i include the various Alpina decals which can be purchased if so desired and new front and rear spoilers. While the Alpina B10 is a great Autobahn cruiser, obviously a better performer than the 540i and much more exclusive, in terms of acceleration and overall performance it still does not match the standard set by the M5 while priced almost 4,000 GBP higher.

The problem with the Alpina B10 V8 isn't that it's not a great car: it's fast and sporty, but at the same time relaxed and comfortable. No wonder then it's one of the best selling models in Alpina history, with over 1300 owners enjoying their company right now. The problem is the BMW 540i does all those things too, and the M5 does them quite a lot better, not in the least because of its extra 50 horses. Alpina's solution? The B10 V8S, introduced at the 2002 Geneva Autoshow, which comes within 20 horsepower of matching the M5, thanks to a new crankshaft, increased stroke (bringing displacement to 4.8L), a reworked and improved intake-system and new piston-rings. To highlight that this is the gentleman's alternative to the rowdy M5, the V8S can only be equipped with a 5-speed automatic gearbox, with the possibility of rowing your own via Switchtronic.

Alpina claims 5.4 seconds for the 62mph sprint but knowing their track record for conservatism, the real number is likely to be a lot lower. Also on the menu are a slightly stiffer suspension, upgraded Brembo stoppers with drilled rotors and 4-piston calipers and the standard Alpina wheels in 19-inch measure. The bigger 19s dull steering feel a bit, but provide potent traction. The B10 V8S sounds good, goes hard and is not held back too much by it's lack of a fully manual gearbox. It's also not as purpose built as an M5, useful for people looking for near-M5 pace combined with the 540iA’s docile nature – Alpina's target customers. Knowing the quality of Alpina's craftsmanship and the exclusivity of their products, the B10 V8S is a treat. - by Traian Popescu

Specifications V8 / V8S Sedan / V8S Touring

Base Price, GBP 55,850 / 57,850 / 59,850 Engine Type 32-valve DOHC V8
Powertrain Layout Front engine, RWD Displacement, cc 4619 / 4837 / 4837
Power(DIN)@rpm 350@5800 / 375@5800 / 375@5800 Torque, lb-ft@rpm 354@3800 / 376@3800 / 376@3800
Curb Weight, lb 3726 / 3726 / 3968 0-62 mph, sec 5.4 / 5.4 / 5.6
0-100 mph, sec 12.5 / - / - 0-125 mph, sec 20.6 / - / -
70-0 mph, ft - Top speed, mph 174 / 177 / 170