Our cars: BMW Alpina D3 Biturbo - September

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Alpina
Alpina
BMW Alpina D3 Biturbo

Week ending September 30
Mileage 13,400
Miles this week 800

There are undeniably many great things about my Alpina. However, one aspect that has consistently disappointed me is its audio system. I decided to have it checked out by a professional, so enlisted the help of Andy Kerr, of sister publication What Hi-Fi.

He agreed, saying: ‘Although it’s clear that Alpina has aimed the D3 at drivers concerned more with driving than listening, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by the quality of the car’s hi-fi system. For a car in its price class, the user interface is too basic, with a low-mounted display screen and controls that feel both cheap and unintuitive to use. More seriously, there’s no provision for a USB-quality connection for your iPod or other digital music player, which impacts on both usability and safety: the fitted 3.5mm phono input is a poor substitute for proper iPod control.

‘However, even these significant gripes could (perhaps) be forgiven if the D3’s hi-fi sounded good – but sadly, that’s far from the case. Even with an audiophile-standard CD, it’s a brittle, aggressive and unrefined listen, with shrieking treble and mediocre, cheap-sounding bass. The Bowers and Wilkins system in Jaguar’s XF (admittedly a very different car) is a whole order of magnitude better, as are the Dynaudio systems fitted to cheaper cars from Volkswagen and Volvo.’

It’s better to just switch off the system and concentrate on what the D3 does best: making each mile, whether it be high-speed or low-speed, a joy.

Euan.Doig@whatcar.com

Week ending September 16
Mileage 12,600
Driven this week 1400 miles


My wife drove the D3 this week, and shortly after she left I was disturbed to receive a phone call from her. I feared the worst: injury, panel damage, steam, but in fact (almost) all was well.

The source of the drama was merely the gearlever. There’s an Alpina badge on the top of it, and Mrs Doig didn’t know where reverse was. Then, once I’d told her, she still couldn’t engage reverse because of the stiff springing of the gearlever. I’ve never thought of the D3 as a man’s car before.
Euan.Doig@whatcar.com

Week ending September 16
Mileage 11,200
Driven this week 1300 miles


I had an early start in order to rendezvous with a colleague in Peterborough, and wanted a car that was comfortable and quick. Sounded like a job for the Alpina D3.

To date, I’d had only short, low-speed trips in the D3, but once on free-flowing motorways and twisty country roads I discovered why Euan Doig (the car's regular custodian) rates the car so highly.
The 211bhp engine makes overtaking a cinch, yet it’s docile when cruising along at motorway speeds The car’s ride is equally impressive, being comfortable yet sporty, with negligible body roll when cornering.

It’s still a 3 Series, so the cabin is a refined and enjoyable place to spend time and the multi-adjustable sports seats mean you can fine-tune the driving position to suit you perfectly. All in all, it’s a sensible car that lets you have some serious fun.

My only gripe about the Alpina as great mile-muncher is the fact that you can’t control your iPod through the stereo. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect as standard on a car that costs over £31,000, but as an option you need to pay an extra £210 when ordering. Sure, I could have plugged into the auxiliary audio socket that comes as standard, but if I’d fiddled with the player on the move I’d have been breaking the law.
Matt.Sanger@whatcar.com


Week ending September 9
Mileage 11,200
Driven this week 1300 miles


The facts that I live a long way from the office and tend to work fairly lengthy days can actually prove beneficial at times.

No, I haven't begun a slow descent into madness. These two factors tend to mean that I travel (just) outside peak commuting hours, which is good for both my soul and my economy. Why? Well, it means that when I'm on the M25, M40 and various dual carriageways I rarely get held up by sleep-addled dawdlers, which keeps frustration down and my Alpina's average economy up, at 42.8mpg.

I don't think that's too bad for a sports saloon that can crack 150mph and will hit 60mph in less than seven seconds.
Euan.Doig@whatcar.com

Week ending September 2
Mileage 10,500
Miles this week 600


Last week I waxed lyrical about the quality of the basic BMW 3 Series my Alpina’s based on, highlighting the simple efficiency of the cruise control to emphasise the point.

This week, I’ve discovered something that isn’t so good: the voice command system. It can’t seem to recognise my (admittedly quite broad) Scottish brogue, so when I ask it to change channels on the radio, I often end up getting the sound of a CD instead. Anyone else have a similar issue?
Euan.Doig@whatcar.com

Our cars: BMW Alpina D3 Biturbo - August

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