The Beginner’s Guide to Alpina

The Beginner's Guide to Alpina

Simply put, it builds petrol and/or diesel versions of the BMW 3, 4, 5 and 8 Series, as well as the X3, X4 and X7. Until recently, that list also included the 7 Series, but… well. That’s life, isn’t it?

The petrol cars are given the prefix ‘B’, since Petrol is Deutsche for petrol, while the diesels are prefixed with ‘D’. For diesel, you see. Because Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the compression ignition engine, was German.

But we’re hardly here to discuss loanwords. If it were, we’d wonder why just about every country in the world calls pineapples “pineapples,” when we insist that a fruit that doesn’t look like an apple, growing on a tree that doesn’t look like a pine, is a pineapple somewhere.

With prefixes (and increasingly ADHD aside) sorted out, we can move on to suffixes. And, conveniently, Alpina keeps it simple: the B3 is Alpina’s version of a petrol 3-series, while a D5 is a diesel-powered Alpina based on the 5-series. It hasn’t always been the case – take the late 1970s B7 Turbo, based on the 6 Series coupe – but it’s now become a fairly straightforward pattern.

Speaking of which – these days the diesel versions get a small ‘s’ suffix, possibly to make up for the fact that you opted for a diesel. Also note that when referring to builds based on BMW’s ‘off-road’ (ha!) range, Alpina uses the X first, then the fuel type, then the number suffix of the SUV sample in question, ending with the like the XD3 and XB7. With a bit of luck you won’t get one. Alpina is great and all, but even the biggest Pole won’t save a tour…