For those sickened by the sight of an SUV-coupe of Audi SQ8 scale (and judging by the forum, there's a lot of you), here's the antidote: the svelte and sophisticated lines of an F31-generation Alpina B3S Touring. The F31 wagon projects class and style with simplicity, leaving a set of 20-inch multi-spokes and quad-tipped Akrapovic exhaust to do the talking. Within, it harbours a turbocharged inline-six that drives the rear wheels exclusively; a stark contrast to the hardware beneath Audi's similarly potent SUV and a USP over its xDrive-only successor. You're looking at the end of an era.
This 2019 car arrived several months after BMW had already launched the new 3 Series that supersedes it, meaning it doesn't get that car's larger G20 underpinnings or the digital cabin tech that accompanies it. The F31 sits on the older - but still extraordinarily good - architecture and gets a dashboard featuring dials and switchgear the way they should be done. This 19-plate B3S was late to squeeze through the door, but that only means it mixes all the best ingredients to go into a fast last-gen Bavarian estate without the age that normally implies.
The 3.0-litre motor under the bonnet benefits from the usual raft of Alpina improvements to produce 435hp - adding more than 100hp to its standard output and even beating the F80 M3's original figure. But it does that without all the start-up shoutiness of the M-division machine, being more sedate unless you request otherwise. Alpinas have a fantastic reputation for delivering better low-speed driveability, and this is certainly true of the last B3 line-up. Each variant has proved itself to be brilliantly comfortable and effortless to drive - but switch the stability control off and you're behind the wheel of a tail-happy super-saloon (or estate) as soon as your right foot demands it. They really don't make 'em like this anymore.
Aside from obvious added Alpina coolness, the Touring brings much to the table. It has 495 litres of boot space and will happily carry five adults. On a run, you'll see economy in the early to mid thirties while 62mph comes in just 4.3 seconds. Its successor has made inevitably made gains in some areas, but we don't think many owners of the outgoing B3 Touring have had reason to gripe. Doubtless the new car will be brilliant, too, although on balance we'd still rather have the more accessible limits of balance provided by a slightly smaller chassis and rear-wheel drive than, say, a digital speedo.
Many people clearly agree with us because the asking price of today's Spotted, a 5,000-mile-old and beautifully specced example of Alpina's B3S Touring, is £62,495, which isn't far off what it would have sold for new. In fact, we'd be surprised to see a list price much higher for the all-new model. But this is an end of the line, rear-drive Alpina estate of hero status. Therefore it's worth every penny.
SPECIFICATION - ALPINA B3S TOURING (F31)
Engine: 2,797cc, 6-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 435@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 443@2,000-6,000rpm
Recorded mileage: 5,000
Year registered: 2019
Price new: c. £60,000 (before options)
Price now: £62,495