Four-door Face-off: BMW M5 Battles Alpina B5

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M5 and B5 use similar performance hardware, but take completely different approaches to delivering luxury at lightning speed.

Not all fast cars are created the same. Some are quick in a straight line, but are too heavy and clumsy to keep that momentum going in corners. Others are only fast on paper. Then there are those cars that feel much more powerful than their stats would suggest. The 2019 BMW M5 and Alpina B5 are high-performance four-doors with a turbocharged V8, all-wheel drive, and an automatic transmission, but they were made to go ridiculous speeds in polar-opposite ways.

The Grand Tour‘s Jeremy Clarkson found that out for himself on a recent episode of the Amazon Prime Video show. The latest BMW M5, touted to be the fastest one yet, has all the characteristics you’d expect from BMW’s most potent performance sedan. It has four doors, room for five people, a trunk, and a monstrously powerful engine under its hood.

5series.net 2019 BMW M5 vs. Alpina B5

Its twin-turbo V8 generates an enormous 592 horsepower and puts it to the pavement through all four wheels. When you see The Grand Tour do the math, that’s enough power and grip for the M5 to outrun a Mercedes-AMG GT on a dragstrip. In fact, it accelerates so hard that it forces Clarkson’s head back against his headrest.

5series.net 2019 BMW M5 vs. Alpina B5

Given that the M5 is a luxury performance car, it allows Clarkson to adjust almost any setting, including the aggressiveness of the engine, the firmness of the suspension, the type of scent emitted by the onboard fragrance system, and whether the drivetrain operates in AWD or RWD. AWD allows the M5 to deliver its power more efficiently, but the M5 should be a little nuts, which makes the option of RWD essential. Clarkson makes sure to exploit it to its fullest. Two words sum up his hooning experience: “Holy s***!”

5series.net 2019 BMW M5 vs. Alpina B5

As pleased as Clarkson is by the M5, he thinks its performance potential will be lost on most of the people who buy it. According to him, the elderly businessman who will buy an M5 will “put it in four-wheel drive comfort mode and leave it there forever.” Fortunately, there’s another ultimate 5 Series out there whose power and approach to going fast should be much more appealing to people who think a lap time is for cats who want attention: the Alpina B5.

5series.net 2019 BMW M5 vs. Alpina B5

Like the M5, the B5 uses a twin-turbo V8, AWD, and an automatic gearbox in a 5 Series body. That’s largely where their similarities end. The B5 generates slightly more horsepower (600) and has differently tuned steering so it can “corner more like an airliner.” Its front suspension was designed to dull the impact of potholes, not neutralize the effects of high-g-force turns. As Clarkson says, “This car was not developed at a race track.”

5series.net 2019 BMW M5 vs. Alpina B5

As a result, the B5 may not be as fast and nimble as the M5 around The Grand Tour‘s test track, but it’s still staggeringly quick. Despite its higher lap time, it comes away a winner. In Clarkson’s opinion, Alpina created a fast 5 that’s not the same as BMW’s M model. They created one that’s better.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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