The first Alpina I drove was a 3 Series-based like this one, and I broke it. It was 1988 and it was my job to record its acceleration. The problem was that with an optional automatic transmission it was unable to spin the rear wheels. I had the bright idea of revving the engine to 5000rpm with the gearbox in neutral, then wrenching the selector into drive. Remarkably, it tolerated such behaviour twice before there was a bang followed by a cessation of forward progress.
It’s probably why I remember the car so well, and I mention it now only because I found it striking how similar the philosophy was behind the car then known as the C2 to that which underpins this brand new B3. Not that you’d know it from the numbers. Today’s B3 has 456bhp from its twin-turbo 3-litre straight-six motor, far more than double offered by the C2’s normally aspirated 2.7.
Back then and even with such unforgivable hooliganism, I could not tempt the C2 past 60mph in less than 7.3sec, not much less than double the time it takes today’s B3. Most shocking is that today’s B3 is 537kg heavier – that’s a Caterham Seven right there – than the C2 of yesteryear, though its top speed of 186mph is 55mph more than I’d flogged out of the C2 before I destroyed it.