The B5 Biturbo has more power than the BMW M5, but it does not like to be driven fast
Aristocratic Alpina The BMW Alpina B5 Biturbo is effortless and pleasant to helm, offering a relaxed and pampering ride. ST PHOTOS: TOH YONG CHUAN

On the day I drove the BMW Alpina B5 Biturbo for this review, the new Pokemon movie, The Power Of Us, started screening in cinemas here.

The main Pokemon, or pocket monster, in the movie is a mythical creature called Zeraora.

"It is an extremely rare, Gen Seven Pokemon," says my 12-year-old daughter, an avid Pokemon fan who watched the movie with me that evening.

The same can be said of the BMW Alpina B5. It is based on the seventh-generation BMW 5-series sedan, which was launched in Singapore last year.

And Alpinas are also extremely rare. There are only 54 of them plying Singapore roads as of December last year, compared with 43,535 BMWs.

Alpina is a German manufacturer that makes and sells high-performance versions of BMW cars.

While Alpinas are based on BMW cars, they offer a slightly different experience from their BMW peers.

The Alpina B5's peer is the mighty BMW M5.

Like the M5, the B5 is ultra luxurious and sporty at the same time. Both cars have the same engine - a beefy 4.4-litre V8.

But the B5 surpasses the M5 on two fronts. Its engine is tuned for more horsepower (608hp versus 600hp) and torque (800Nm versus 750Nm).

And while both cars have all-wheel-drive, only the B5 has rear-wheel steering. At speeds below 63kmh, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction of the front wheels to give the car more agility. And above 63kmh, they turn in the same direction to give the car more stability.

On the move, with the insane 800Nm of torque, I had expected the car to behave like a monster. Indeed, the beast reared its ugly head once.

At a stretch of the AYE towards Tuas, I overtook a slower-moving white Renault Megane RS250 and found myself at a speed where not only would I have earned a speeding ticket, but I could also have landed in court. I backed off.

On the whole, the B5 was generally effortless and extremely pleasant to helm. Driving in Sport mode and filtering into an expressway, I was surprised to find that the gearbox shifted up steadily to the tallest eighth gear at a relatively low speed of about 80 to 90kmh.

While the car has a quick century sprint time of 3.5 seconds, it really does not want to be driven fast.

It has a relaxed gait and is a pampering ride, which encourages the driver to go slower to enjoy the car rather than be in a hurry to get to a destination.

It is like an M5 with an aristocratic trait. When you are driving nobility, you might as well slow down to enjoy the finer things.

In the B5, the finer things are aplenty. Its leather-wrapped steering wheel, for example, is the best I have felt in a long time. The seats are as comfortable as a lounge sofa.

After driving the B5 for about 119km over a little more than two hours, the trip computer recorded 10.5 litres/100km, which is exactly the figure Alpina stated on paper.

Overall, there is nothing to dislike about the car. The only issue I can think of is the difficulty of keeping the 20-spoke, 20-inch rims clean, but that is nitpicking.

Alpinas are priced at a premium over their BMW peers. The B5 costs about $40,000 more than the M5. But I can easily see someone who is willing to splurge nearly $500,000 on the M5 forking out a little more to enjoy the exclusivity of the B5.

For such a driver, the novelty of driving a rare car is the appeal. Like a Pokemon Go fan who manages to catch a mythical monster.