Have a think of how many diesel performance cars are left in the market. Audi have a couple of TDI powered S cars, BMW have a couple of fast diesel engines around, but that’s about it. What was once the promised engine combing big torque and even bigger range, diesel cars are slowly being phased out in favour of petrol-hybrids and EVs.
But for those who are still drawn to the mind-boggling torque figures and equally impressive fuel economy of super diesels can still seek refuge with the Germans. But if you find the Audis a bit too vanilla and the BMWs a bit too “common” then Alpina have the solution for you.
I’ve waxed lyrical about Alpina before and I’ll do it again. These are spectacular cars that improve on already brilliant BMWs and make them just that bit more special. I was a big fan of the diesel-powered D3S and XD3 as well as the subtly brutal petrol cars in the form of the B4 Coupe and the petrol powered counterpart of the D5S; the B5.
After spending a few days with the D5S here are five things I liked and five things I didn’t.
Five Things I Liked About The Alpina D5S
There’s nothing like Alpina comfort
A quick look at the Alpina-fettled 5 Series and there’s no doubting this car’s comfort potential. A big executive sedan like the 5 Series with improved damping and suspension can only be a good thing, and you’d be right. But take a look again and you’ll notice the big low profile 20-inch wheels. While great to look at, generally speaking big wheels equals a less plush ride. However, through some sort of witchcraft, Alpina have managed to make a car with big rims ride fabulously. Where most German performance cars ride on the firm side, the D5S like the B5, glides over the roughest of surfaces. It’s a gobsmacking feat.
This goes much faster than your diesel
Like all autobahn cruisers, the D5S does incredibly well at speed. Getting it to speed is an easy task thanks to its 3.0-litre bi-turbo straight six diesel engine. Pumping out 240kW and a ludicrous 700NM of torque. That’s enough to get it from 0-100 km/h in a smidgen under 5 seconds and on to a top speed of 275 km/h. What differentiates Alpina’s approach to the fast sedan compared to M’s is a far less track focused one. Instead, what you get is a far more accomplished road car with near perfect gear shifts from the tweaked ZF 8-speed auto and that brilliant ride comfort. Besides, a car as big and heavy as the 5-Series is better off being a motorway cruiser than a Nurburgring weapon.
Efficiency that goes on for miles and miles. Literally
With a claimed fuel consumption of 6.8L/100km and a 66L fuel tank, the D5S has a range of around 970 kilometres. Even with me behind the wheel and after 700 kilometres on the clock I got an average of 7.1L/100km, which isn’t bad at all for a car of this type. If you do a lot of motorway driving or if your commute is some distance away I could see a good case for having the D5S.
All the tech in the world
It’s easy to take the modern conveniences cars have these days. But recently I’ve spent a lot of time in older cars and less tech-laden modern cars. Stepping into the Alpina D5S with its brilliant 3D 360-degree camera, radar cruise control with lane keep assist, heated and cooled seats, and adaptive LED headlights made me appreciate how far car technology has come to making the lives of the driver and passengers just that much easier and better. Sure, in something like a Porsche 911 that sort of stuff might be seen as a negative but in a car like the D5S that’s meant to be used everyday on motorway journeys it’s a godsend.
All BMWs are made equal but some are more equal than others. Japan is the second largest market for Alpina, it’s almost impossible to go a day without seeing at least one Alpina from their 55 year history on the streets of Tokyo. But in the time I had the D5S I only came across one other. This is a rare and exclusive car and the Alpina badging inside is a friendly reminder of that. This isn’t your average diesel BMW and those who know know. It’s a rare car that isn’t excessively flash or draws much attention to itself. That’s why Alpina generally tends to attract stealth wealth whereas M cars a bit more garish.
Five Things I Didn’t Like About The Alpina D5S
No quad-turbo for right-hand drive markets
Now I’m not saying the bi-turbo D5S is a slow car but imagine it with a couple more turbos. The quad-turbo variant is only exclusively sold in left-hand drive markets, even left-hand drive hungry Japan doesn’t get it. What are we missing out on? Well, the extra pair of turbos ups the power to 285kW and torque grows to 800NM. Boo and hiss.
All the beeping!
I know cars are becoming more autonomous and robotic but my god this thing beeps a lot. It’s not just an exclusive thing for the D5S, most modern BMWs are just as guilty but there seems to be a beep for everything. Open the door, it beeps. Take the key out while it’s running, it beeps. Put it in reverse, it beeps. Get too close to something, it beeps. The worst one is the seatbelt warning which literally has a 1 second allowance. I get it, safety first but it got to a point where it nearly drove me insane.
Why no CarPlay?
For a car with so much technology it was weird to see an omission such as Apple CarPlay. Luckily BMW’s iDrive system remains the best in the business so it’s not too bad.
All this excellence comes at a cost
That’d be the price. The D5S starts from ¥13,240,000 (NZ$195,460) in the Japanese market and this car with some option boxes ticked totals at ¥15,600,000 (NZ$230,160). There’s no getting around it – it’s an expensive car with somethings that shouldn’t be optional at this price point such as soft close doors, electrically operated bootlid, and harman/kardon speakers. At least you’ll be able to get some savings back from the fuel economy.
I’d rather have a B5
As brilliant and competent as the D5S is, I’d still rather have the petrol-powered B5. With a 4.4-litre bi-turbo V8 producing 447kW and 800NM of torque, it’s just too hard to ignore. I’ll take mine in Touring form with Alpina Green paint please.