With its official absorption into the BMW mothership well underway, Alpina has evidently long since given up on treating BMW’s more recent roadsters the sport-lux treatment. The E89 generation Z4 never received an Alpina variant, and all hope of the current-gen G29 car getting one is now long gone. That’s a massive shame given that BMW M hasn’t stepped up to the plate with its own two-seater offering since the Z4 M Roadster some 17 years ago.
It doesn’t look like that’s going to change under a new parent either. Burkard Bovensiepen, head of the German tuner, recently revealed on The Smoking Tire podcast that Alpina has no intention of including BMW’s ‘cheaper’ models, such as the 1 and 2 Series, under its umbrella, and will continue to focus on the firm’s more premium offerings. Presumably, the Z4 falls into the former category. Sure, there’s always the M40i variant which sort of covers the fast grand tourer that Alpina aims for with its creations, but that’s clutching at straws somewhat. For a proper two-seater Alpina experience, you’ll need to keep an eye out for an old Roadster S. Oh, fancy that. One’s popped up on the classifieds.
Alpina is, of course, the Yin to BMW M’s Yang. Fast for sure, but far better suited to Germany’s autobahn network than the Nurburgring’s north loop. The Roadster S, however, was a little bit different. It would essentially serve as a precursor to the BMW Z4 M Roadster, as the model was axed in 2006 having been on sale for just two years. During that time only 370 examples were produced, 167 of which were right hookers earmarked for the UK market – or roughly ten per cent of British Z4 Ms.
Fundamentally, the Roadster S isn’t all that different to M car. Obviously, it isn’t as powerful. Alpinas rarely are. However, the 300hp on offer through a 3.4-litre naturally aspirated straight six - a tweaked version of the 3.2-litre engine found in North American versions of the E36 M3 and Z3 M - isn’t all that far off the M equivalent. It’s around 130kg lighter, too, with a power-to-weight ratio that’s less than 10hp per tonne shy of the M car. But the real shocker here (in a good way) is that the tuner opted against its Switch-Tronic auto box and instead fitted a ZF-built six-speed manual.
Beyond that, it’s standard Alpina fare. The company fitted its own dampers with Eibach springs, though the upgrades are nowhere near as comprehensive as what you’ll find on the M version. What is significant, however, is the interior makeover the Roadster S received. Alpina reportedly made thousands of changes to the cabin, including new leather sports seats, signature blue dials and a smattering of company badges and logos dotted throughout. This car comes with the optional Luxury package, a chunky £4,850 option back in the day but it did bring Bluetooth connectivity, parking sensors, even more leather and much more besides.
By now, you’d think that this Roadster S must carry a brow-raising asking price, what with Alpinas being mostly immune to heavy depreciation. Yet despite the badge and exclusivity, number 137 is listed at £20,995 through Duke of London. By comparison, this Z4 M Roadster will set you back a further £18,000 – albeit with a fewer miles on the clock. We’ll take the rarer, slightly softer car and use the leftover change on a road trip down to the cols of Southern France, thanks.
SPECIFICATION | ALPINE ROADSTER S
Engine: 3,346cc straight-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,300rpm
Torque (lb ft): 267@4,800rpm
Year registered: 2004
Recorded mileage: 50,000
Price new: £37,850 (before options)
Yours for: £20,995
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