Alpina B5 GT

On the move, the cleverest thing you can do is get acquainted with the ‘LIM’ button on the chunky, Lavalina-leather-trimmed steering wheel. If there’s another combustion car that accrues speed as covertly as this one, I haven’t driven it.

Big wheels and low-profile tyres – which, to be fair, need to be homologated for speeds of up to 204mph, with four passengers plus luggage aboard – mean that on granulated surfaces road roar is more appreciable than expected but comfort and isolation are otherwise not far off Mercedes S-Class calibre.

Alpina’s unique Comfort Plus damper setting also seems more pronounced here than in previous models. The free rein it gives the body is too sloppy for most A-roads but pretty sublime on motorways. The GT’s easy pace also comes down to the fact that torque is so abundant that the transmission seldom needs to gear down. You tend to surf along in the effortless manner of powerful EVs, only with a distant eight-cylinder hum.

That said, engage the paddles or one of the fruitier driving modes and that hum becomes markedly less distant. This engine does its best work in the mid-range, where an inch or two of accelerator pedal travel can send your internals into freefall in that subtly addictive manner specific to big-capacity turbo motors. At 2080kg, the Touring is 100kg heavier than the saloon and 255kg more than an M5 CS, but in the context of 627lb ft, those figures may as well be rounding errors. The car feels supersonic.

But we already knew that. What’s surprising is how playful the B5 GT is on the road. Save for some stiffer bump-stops, precision-enhancing bulkhead struts and the fitment as standard of a hand-assembled mechanical limited-slip differential by Drexler, the GT is unchanged from the regular B5, so why does it feel more mischievous?

Cold temperatures, perhaps. This car lacks the high-voltage turn-in, the steering detail and the body control of an M5 CS, but it has more than enough talent in all those areas for its remit and it simply loves to be steered on the throttle. Interestingly, the Touring has a slightly narrower rear contact patch than the saloon.

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