Diesel cars may have their days numbered but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any worth your time. The investment in R&D on diesel engines, especially by the European manufacturers, over the last two decades has been immense. Audi and Peugeot showed the world that diesel could be successful in sports cars racing on a global scale with their entries in the Le Mans 24 Hours. On the road, we’ve seen some bonkers performance diesels from Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche.
Of course, a scandal a couple years ago (largely thanks to the aforementioned German conglomerate) tainted the once seemingly never ending run of diesel dominance. Manufacturers pulled back on their diesel lineup while the Germans were quickly trying to distance themselves from the fuel by completely getting rid of diesel variants and replacing them with hybrid and EVs.
But there are still a select few who stand by the advances of diesel’s torque, long-distance range, and newfound smoothness. One of the best modern examples are BMW’s diesels and in particular BMW diesels that have been fettled by Alpina.
Those who’ve read my review on previous Alpinas such as B5 sedan, B4 Coupe, and diesel D3 sedan will know I’m a huge fan of the small manufacturer. It’d be an understatement to call them an aftermarket tuner, they’re so much more than that. Their cars are made alongside BMW’s own products in their factories and are finished off at Alpina’s facilities.
Being a small manufacturer, Alpina are only capable of producing around 1700 cars a year. Japan gets about 400 of those cars each year, signifying it as one of Alpina’s most important markets. But Alpina are wanting to expand more towards North America and Middle East, that’s where the money is, so they’ll be a change in what the Alpina line up looks in the future. Like other manufacturers, it’ll be more SUVs than cars.
There won’t be an Alpina 8-Series Coupe or Cabriolet, there won’t be an Alpina 4-Series Coupe or Cabriolet, instead it’ll just be the Gran Coupe versions of those cars to prioritise production for the petrol and diesel-powered Alpina X7. SUVs are all the rage now, you know.
That’s where the XD3 comes in. It’ll be the first of a whole new generation of SUVs for Alpina. This is Alpina’s second SUV, after the first-generation XD3 based on the F25 generation. Interestingly Alpina have never fettled with the X5. I’m not sure why as that would make a perfect subject for Alpina’s treatment. This new XD3, based on the brilliant G01 X3 picks up where the old one left off.
Right-hand drive markets get the one XD3 with a 3.0-litre in-line six bi-turbo diesel producing 245kW and a whopping 700NM of torque. That’s enough to get the all-wheel drive XD3 from 0-100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 254 km/h. Left-hand drive markets get a slightly more bonkers quad-turbo in-line six with 280kW and 900NM of torque.
I’m a huge fan of the way this looks. From the modest Alpina body kit, to the quad-exhausts, Alpina stripes, 21-inch multi spoke alloys, and the blue brake callipers, this thing looks the business. There’s enough to differentiate this from ‘normal’ X3s but not too much that it looks garish and boy racery.
Most people won’t bat an eye at this and wouldn’t even know it was as rare and exclusive as it is. They probably wouldn’t even guess it’s a good $30,000 more than a X3 M40d. But for those who know what it is and what Alpina is will give it the respect it deserves. Which is perfect for the type of people who buy Alpinas. These are the type of people who have a fleet of supercars but buy an Alpina when they want to drive around incognito but still in something cool, rare, and fast.
The best way to describe the interior of the XD3 is that it’s like a high-specced X3 but with more Alpina badges. It’s got the same tech, leather, and materials as top BMW models but that’s not a complaint. It’s just a very nice place to be in and why fix something that’s not broken?
You get BMW’s best fit and finish with some Alpina touches added in for good measure such as the Alpina badged wood trim and the optional Alpina diamond stitching on the headrests. Alpina don’t do as much to the 3 and 4-Series level cars as they do for the 5-Series and above, those get a much more comprehensive overhaul, but that’s not to say the XD3 is spartan.
The optional full-length panoramic roof brings in a tremendous amount of light into the cabin when open making it feel nice and airy. Very premium indeed. Mood lighting is nice too, though not quite as bright or having the same colour variations as its rivals.
It is quite spacious, but so is the X3 on which it’s based on. It can accommodate 5 adults easily with three abreast at the back if they’re small or for short trips. The capacious boot will be enough for any situation. If you need a third row, Alpina are working on a fettled version of BMW’s X7 monster truck as we speak with both petrol and diesel engines on offer.
Think of this more as a Bentley than an Aston Martin. It’s more of a cruiser than a sporty SUV, that’s the job for the X3M. No, it won’t be able to shame a Macan around a racetrack but at the same time a Macan doesn’t have the same amount of space, comfort, or effortless torque as this.
If you do a lot of motorway driving, or have to drive between the North and South Islands regularly, I reckon the XD3 would be a great companion. It’s competent enough around corners that it doesn’t lean or float too excessively, but the fantastic Alpina tuned dampers soak up even the worst of bumps well.
I’ve previously driven a X3 xDrive20d with the M-Sport package and while that rode well enough, what Alpina has done to the suspension and damping on the XD3 is night and day. Most German SUVs have quite firm rides but the Alpina manages to turn the bumpiest of roads into somewhat acceptable terrain that won’t break your back. And this is with 20-inch wheels!
The diesel engine is torquey enough to overtake any truck that might get in your way while being so efficient you won’t need to keep stopping at random petrol stations in the middle of nowhere. Alpina claims a combined 6.4L/100km, in the real world with my not-so-efficient driving style I was getting around 8.1L/100km. Which, for an SUV with 245kW and 700 addictive NM of torque on tap isn’t bad at all. When you get tired, there’s a raft of safety and driving aids to help you along such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot assist, and lane keep assist. It’s just a very pleasant car in general.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||Fuel, L/100km||0-100 kph, seconds||Price – High to Low|
|Alpina XD3||3.0-litre straight-six twin-turbo diesel||245kW/700NM||6.4||4.9||$151,000 (est)|
|Range Rover Velar D300 R-Dynamic HSE||3.0L V6 diesel turbo||221kW/700||6.5||6.4||$144,900|
|Porsche Macan S||3.0L V6 turbo petrol||260kW / 450Nm||9.0||5.3||$125,900|
|BMW X3 M40d||3.0-litre inline-six twin-turbo diesel||235kW/680NM||6.7||4.9||$125,200|
|Audi SQ5||3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol||260kW/500NM||8.3||5.4||$122,900|
|Mercedes-AMG GLC43||3.0L V6 Petrol twin turbo||270kW / 520Nm||8.8||4.7||$118,800|
|Jaguar F-Pace Sd||3.0L V6 turbo diesel||220kW / 700Nm||6.0||5.8||$114,900|
The Pros and Cons
| • Effortless torque |
• Long range economy
• Brilliant Alpina suspension damping
• Handsome styling
| • Considerably pricier than the car it’s based on|
• Interior too similar to ‘standard’ X3
• Having to go to Australia to get one
What do we think of it?
This is more for the relaxed driver than someone who wants a hot-hatch handling SUV. The effortless performance from the torquey diesel is almost addictive while the relatively economical thirst makes this a great candidate for the family all-rounder.
The high asking price might put some buyers off, but take solace in the knowledge that you won’t see another on the road. It stands out enough from other X3s while still being a handsome and understated thing. This is a car that’ll only get the attention from those who know. It’s an exclusivity thing.
Alpinas have always been for a small type of clientele, for people who want cross-country performance and comfort wrapped in a subtle and usable package. Not everyone will understand an Alpina but that’s part of what makes these so cool.
|Starting Price||$151,000 (est)|
|Tested Price||$165,000 (est)|
|Engine||3.0-litre inline-six twin-turbo, diesel engine|
|Transmission||8-speed auto ZF with manual mode|
|0 – 100 kph, seconds||4.9|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||2,015|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4732 x 1897 x 1665 mm|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||550/1600|
|Fuel Tank, litres||68|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 6.4L / 100kmReal World Test – Combined – 8.1L / 100kmLow Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+|
|Turning circle||12mSmall: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||N/A|
|Warranty||3 year, 100,000km|