In the modified car world, four grand doesn’t get you much. A set of wheels maybe, or a set of new bumpers. So, when Alpina announced that it was only going to charge a £4,000 premium for modifying the BMW 320d Sport, you’d have had every reason to assume the changes wouldn’t be that dramatic.
And yet, if you had made that assumption then both you and I would be an ass because the Alpina D3 E90 is a very good car that is entirely worthy of its Alpina badge.
Born as a result of Andreas Bovensiepen, the son of Alpina founder Burkhard, winning the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a diesel-engined 3-series in 1998, the changes Alpina made added up to a whole lot more than you’d have any right to expect for so little money.
Like 19-inch alloy wheels, some lovely body styling, and twin exhaust tailpipes. The suspension is tweaked too, and while the engine’s internals are untouched, Alpina bolted on a bigger Garrett turbocharger and intercooler, fiddled with the engine management, and fitted bigger fuel injectors. The result is a 36bhp boost from 161bhp to 197bhp, plus another 51lb.ft. of torque.
The interior gains half-leather sports seats, a hand-stitched steering wheel, and an Alpina-branded gearknob, all the better to pilot your 330i-quick diesel saloon to a top speed of 145mph – after passing 60mph in 7.4 seconds – all the while enjoying late 40s fuel consumption.
The changes led Evo magazine to write of the D3: “Point the D3 down a twisty, bumpy backroad, and things get even more interesting. The steering, which is quite heavy and a touch dull at lower speeds, comes alive. The whole car feels alert, keen to turn and well-balanced all the way through each corner, shifting attitude subtly in response to the throttle. The suspension works brilliantly – you’d never believe the ride could be this supple from a glance at the wheels and tyres – meaning you can maintain a cracking pace, with just the occasional flicker from the stability control to let you know you’re edging up to the limit.”