Speculation that Alpina will launch the Touring version of its upcoming B3 Biturbo before the saloon has apparently been given a little more substance by a barely disguised development mule of what is expected to be a 450hp wagon. Seen testing in the wild ahead of its probable debut next week, the Alpina-enhanced estate will build on the base of BMW's M340i xDrive to provide a Bavarian answer to AMG's C63 Estate and Audi's RS4 Avant.
It'll remain the only response to those German rivals even after the M3 arrives on roads (with up to 510hp), since that car will remain saloon - and M4 coupe - only. Which means you're looking at the most potent way to cram the family, dogs and luggage in a BMW Touring from anywhere in the maker's line-up. The larger 540i Touring, for example, uses BMW's turbocharged straight-six with over 100hp less than the B3 Alpina's predicted peak figure.
The Alpina B3 Touring is likely of considerable interest to PHers then, because, well, we all love a fast estate. Expect Alpina's engine fettling to boost mid-range torque as well as the maximum power output from the 3.0-litre engine, while a fine-tuning of the M340i's adjustable damping and geometry is also due, to unlock the usual Alpina blend of comfort and performance. With demand on the continent leaning substantially towards all-wheel drive, however, the Alpina model is likely to be xDrive only - which makes older rear-drive B3s look rather appealing.
We've known Alpina's take on the G20 3 Series is close for a little while now, with the M340i-based machine having been spotted testing at the 'ring just a few weeks ago. Now, though, a post on the company's Facebook page has confirmed that the model is set to debut at September's Frankfurt show.
What's more, multiple publications are reporting that it will be the Touring, rather than the previously-seen saloon which makes its bow first. This, of course, should be a source of great excitement around these parts, given PH's fondness for fast estates, and the conspicuous lack of any BMW M Touring models for a number of years now.
Further information on the upcoming B3 can be found in our original story below, but we'll be sure to bring you the latest as soon as Frankfurt gets underway.
ORIGINAL STORY - 06.08.2019
So the BMW M3 is set to change (again), with all-wheel drive on the way and three specifications, from Pure manual to 510hp Competition. What will stay the same, however, as it has for many generations, is Alpina's alternative offering in the shape of the B3. Here it is hot weather testing, the first time we've seen an Alpina G20 3 Series.
For the previous F80, Alpina played a masterstroke; as the contemporary M3 emerged angrier and feistier than ever, so the B3 was a supple, measured, silky smooth sports saloon, not as rabidly fast but beautifully suited to swift progress on British roads. The Biturbo looked superb, it drove impeccably, and found favour among all who tested it.
Alpina will hope to do the same again, this B3 to be derived from the M340i xDrive with 374hp. It's unknown yet whether the Alpina will retain that configuration or go rear-wheel drive; expect more power though, to bring it ahead of the BMW and surpass its predecessor's 410hp - around 450hp or so would be our guess.
Familiar external Alpina changes can also be seen here, from the quad exhausts to the multi-spoke wheels, the blue calipers to the more aggressive front splitter. A raft of tweaks will be implemented under the skin, too; the genius of the last car was dampers softer in compression than a 335i but stiffer in rebound, giving an expert blend of comfort and control.
Given how well received the standard 3 Series has been already, it looks the perfect base from which to create another great Alpina. Typically the B3 arrives a little before an M3, though it seems Alpina will have a short window given how well advanced the BMW appears. The rest of 2019 should be very interesting for fans of fast 3 Series...
[Images: S.Baldauf/S.B. Median]