First Drive: Alpina XD3

Alpina is to BMW what Brabus is to Mercedes-Benz. With the big brand's permission, the smaller company takes one of its models and makes all manner of improvements.

The XD3 is Alpina's take on BMW's X3 SUV. But even though the two cars are built in the same factory, they are very different animals to one another.
Is Alpina's XD3 SUV worth the effort, or is it a waste of time? AOL Cars sent James Fossdyke to investigate.

What is it?

The XD3 is essentially an X3 that has been upgraded in aspects such as performance and appearance.

With a beefed up engine and a series of aesthetics improvements, such as massive alloys, a quad pipe exhaust and sporty bumpers, the XD3 is equipped to blow most other diesel SUVs out of the water.

What's under the bonnet?

The XD3 is powered by a 345bhp 3.0-litre straight-six engine. This accelerates the car from a standstill to 60mph in a staggering 4.7 seconds, making it faster than a Jaguar F-Type and a Maserati GranCabrio. In fact, it's the second-fastest diesel SUV in the world, lagging just behind the Bentley Bentayga.

The unfortunate disadvantage that comes with having a weapon of mass destruction under the bonnet is, of course, horrendous fuel consumption. The XD3 has a claimed figure of 42.8mpg, but in reality, you're looking at something around 35mpg.

What's the spec like?

An exclusive SUV with great performance and premium features on all fronts will always command a certain expense. The XD3 starts at £56,450, which is about £9,000 more than the top-of-the-range BMW X3 35d.

For the price, you get a great array of equipment, such as two-zone air conditioning, 20-inch wheels, satellite navigation, cruise control, parking sensors and leather sports seats.

Any rivals?

The XD3 has to face up to some titanic opponents, including the Porsche Macan S Diesel, Range Rover Sport 4.4 SDV8 and Audi SQ5. The key advantage the Alpina holds over its rivals is exclusivity – you won't see many others on the road.

What's it like to drive?

The XD3 is an incredibly versatile machine. It can outpace an F-Type in a straight line, which is an incredible achievement. Take it into a corner and you could believe you're driving a 5 Series Touring – it's slightly top-heavy, but it stays fairly flat and the steering feels perfectly weighted.

Off-roading is also possible in this car, thanks to the decent ground clearance, four-wheel drive and hill descent control. All this paraphernalia will certainly be enough to help you cross a muddy field.

AOL Cars Verdict

The BMW X3 is beginning to feel a little old, and some of that is carried over into the XD3's cabin, but the Alpina more than makes up for this with its addictive power, impressive road manners and all-round capability. It's a supercar, a tow car, an estate car and a 4x4 all in one, and that's a mix that's difficult to beat.

The Knowledge

Power (bhp): 345
Torque (Nm): 700
Max speed (mph): 156
0-60mph: 4.7 seconds
MPG: 42.8
Emissions (g/km): 174
Base price: £56,450
Price as tested: £61,665

First Drive: Alpina XD3
See Gallery
First Drive: Alpina XD3
Read Full Story