Moving on to the Alpina, whose cabin instantly feels more inviting than that of the Porsche but lacks the near-flawless driving position, setting the driver higher and more upright. In general, this car seems more of an ordinary device elevated to special standards, rather than a device conceived to be special from the get-go, like the Taycan is.
Still, with the B3 Touring, the elevation process is quite something. Alpina takes the BMW M340i Touring, installs its own torque-rich version of M’s new 3.0-litre S58 twin-turbo straight six and adds copious extra cooling for both the engine and the gearbox, with the latter being reinforced, along with the rear driveshafts. The electronically controlled LSD in the rear axle is retuned, and the torque split between the axles is made more equal (surprising, that). The B3 also gets its own ALPbranded Pirellis, and the suspension geometry is tweaked to give a touch more steering feel and directional stability. The list of changes is long and detailed, but the result is something unlike any mainline BMW, and something with Porsche levels of diligence lavished on its chassis and engine.
Yes, that engine. This car starts with a fruity straight-six boom, woofly but somehow clean cut and M flavoured yet not full-monty M. Clearly, the machine element is more tangible here than with the Porsche. Obvious, really, but no less significant. At idle, the engine sends vibrations through the chubby-rimmed steering wheel, and whether you’re pulling away or indulging in roll-on acceleration in third gear, there’s that almost reassuring sense of hysteresis as torque rapidly works its way from the crank, through the gearbox, then mostly along the car’s propshaft and into the rear tyres, which being 265 section are fairly serious but still some way off the Porsche’s 285-section Michelins. Where that car keeps its powder dry until the precise moment you plant the accelerator, the B3 seems to ripple more wastefully with horsepower and torque before its healthy 456bhp and enormous 516lb ft begin to register. It simply can’t keep schtum.