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Alpina rolls out a 600-horsepower BMW 5 Series

Built on BMW's own assembly lines, the B5 Biturbo brings M5 power -- and then some -- to both sedans and wagons.

Alpina B5 Biturbo
You don't need to order your car in Alpina's trademark shade of blue, but it's suggested.

Alpina is like BMW's kissing cousin. While technically its own separate automaker, Alpina creates its cars on BMW's assembly line using BMW's models as jumping-off points. They're even covered by Bimmer factory warranties. The small-batch automaker's latest car, the B5 Biturbo, exemplifies how Alpina takes its cars in a different direction than BMW.

The B5 Biturbo is based on the BMW M5, a 560-horsepower, eight-cylinder super sedan. Alpina then whips up its own variant of the M5's 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged engine, which puts out 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque in its new guise. BMW's dual-clutch transmission is ditched in favor of a more traditional eight-speed automatic, and the result is a 4.2-second charge to 62 mph, 0.1 seconds faster than BMW's offering.

Alpina also does away with BMW's electronic top-speed limiter. Whereas the Bimmer can only reach 155 miles per hour, the B5 Biturbo is capable of 204 mph, provided you can keep your foot down long enough to hit that number (and provided you have somewhere you can reach this speed legally).

The B5's exterior and interior are slightly different from the M5's. Alpina adds some signature touches to all its vehicles -- namely, more aggressive aerodynamic parts and multi-spoke wheels. The interior features BMW's full Merino leather package as standard, but buyers can opt for even fancier trimmings through BMW Individual and Alpina's own high-end finishes. Rounding out the notable changes is the Alpina badge slapped on the steering wheel.

The chassis doesn't go untouched, either. The B5 Biturbo sports Alpina-specific suspension with adaptive dampers and active roll bars, which can adjust to provide sportier handling only when the situation calls for it. Alpina also includes a mechanical limited-slip differential, made by Drexler Motor Sport, for improved traction. If you dig noise, you can also upgrade the exhaust to a titanium Akrapovic unit for a little extra grumble.

As you might expect, buying one of these cars is not an endeavor for the light of heart (or wallet). The new B5 Biturbo starts at €108,600 (directly converted, about $115,000, £76,000 or AU$160,000), which is nearly €6,000 more than the M5.

BMW no longer sells the M5 Touring. Alpina doesn't have to play by BMW's rules, though, and we're better off for it.