HAVE RARELY resonated with me. In theft desire to be

different to the BMWs upon which they are based, they have often ended up as somewhat flawed and often contrived machines. When BMW goes about designing a high-performance car, most things are the way they are for a reason and you mess with them at your peril.

But in recent times Andy Bovensiepen’s turn at Alpina’s helm has produced some far more sure-footed results. First there was the D5 saloon, a diesel-powered alternative to the M5 with no less realworld performance, better handling, a finer ride and, of course, a massive fuel consumption and overall range advantage. Now comes this B3 GT3 which, for want of a better description, is the M3 Alpina would make were it asked. Like the current M3 it’s spun off the E92 3-series coupe body that in saloon form has already been replaced by an all-new model. But unlike

the 4-11tre M3, the GT3 uses BMW’s 3-11tre twin-turbo motor boosted to 402bhp, a mere 18bhp shod of the V8 M3’s output but with over 100 b if of additional torque. Space is shod so I’ll cut to the chase. It’s a delightful car, slightly slower but far nicer to drive than the M3. I’d usually always back a normally aspirated V8 against a forced induction six, but the Alpina not only delivers its power seamlessly, it also applies it so

well it seems a far friendlier car than the sometimes tricky M3.

Indeed I drove in conditions both fair and foul and found it never less than confidenceinspiring. The smooth power delivery is impressive, but no more so than the deffly damped ride, communicative steering and the effodlessly accommodating nature once on the limit.

Sadly production of the B3 GT3 is limited to just 99 units and at £66,950 you’ll pay nearly 911 money for it. But tf you want a fast, sophisticated, exciting, spacious, civilised and extremely rare coupe, I’d recommend a test drive sooner rather than later. I don’t imagine they will be around for too long.