The Mitsubishi Evo VIII/IX MR had roof mounted vortex generators that supposedly cleaned the air passing over the back of the car. They also served to distinguish the MR from lesser Evo variants. Since I’ve never seen them on another car (Evo X included), it’s safe to assume that their purpose was mostly cosmetic. And on a car like the Evo, questionable styling features are fine, even expected.
Apply this concept to a luxury sedan and the results are less than spectacular. BMW’s M5 has taken the MR approach to differentiating itself from the lesser 5 series models. Fake venting on the front quarter panels, flashy special colors, 20″ brushed alloy wheels, and bright blue brake calipers fail to add any tangible benefits and merely serve to exemplify the misguided nature of the car.
Objectively, the M5 is a hard sell. Compared with the other 5 series variants, it is the heaviest, most expensive, least fuel efficient, and harshest riding. All for a car that will realistically spend a vast majority of its time sitting in traffic. Of course, I still want one… just minus the flair. I want a low profile comfortable sedan with devastating speed. What I want is an Alpina B5.
Alpina is a quasi-independent and long standing BMW tuner dating back to 1965. Known for making fast luxurious cars; Alpina is somewhat reminiscent of the last decade of cars produced under AMG with their high HP engines mated to more livable driving dynamics and restrained aesthetics. With Alpina there’s no fancy side mirrors, flared arches, or unnecessary venting. Their cars receive mild exterior modification with signature Alpina rims. Interiors include custom materials, and the suspension is more focused on a comfortable ride than setting lap times at the track. Of course, it’s still unnervingly fast thanks to 540hp accompanied by a massive 538lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo V8. While not the outright performer of its M5 counterpart, it could be argued that the B5 is better suited for the real world.
No matter how you tune it, be it M, Quattro, AMG or Alpina for that matter, these cars are still fundamentally 2 ton luxury sedans, not sports car. So why fight it? The B5 isn’t looking to be the Swiss Army knife of sports sedans. Give me a car that does one thing well over a car that does everything ok and nothing great.