Alpina, Audi, Alfa Romeo and BMW take the ‘fast but frugal’ test

In detail

Many make the mistake of thinking the SZ was penned by Italian design house Zagato. Although Zagato did have a large input, the car was initially penned by Robert Opron of Alfa Romeo, part of a team headed by Walter de Silva at the time. A key design element that proves this theory is the lack of Zagato’s trademark double-bubble roof, a detail synonymous with Zagato’s designs.

Fuel consumption

Alfa Romeo Giulia 7/10 Officially, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will sip 6.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, but our weekend with the car yielded a much higher 9.4L/100km figure. Test driving consisted of navigating the tight inner-city streets of Melbourne’s north, as well as a short blast up the freeway to find some twisty country B-roads, so your mileage may vary. Worth noting the Giulia Sport sips Premium 95 RON petrol, making it a little more expensive to fill up at the bowser. VIEW FULL PRICING & SPECS > CLOSE

Alpina B5 7/10 The Alpina B5 needs petrol. By that, I mean it needs quite a lot of it if you want to enjoy it properly. What type of mileage does it get? Officially, after a combination of urban and open roads, where as the M5 is set to 10.5L/100km. That makes sense, the B5 produces more power and torque, and it’s 85kg heavier than the M5 at 2015kg. Our test car’s trip computer was reporting 13.2L/100km after flying low over country roads and slow city piloting. The more time spent in the urban warfare that is the daily peak hour commute, the more that figure crept and hovered around the 15L/100km mark. VIEW FULL PRICING & SPECS > CLOSE

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Versatile Performance

A sports sedan, however, the Alpina B7 is not. Within the 7-series lineup, Alpina considers it the more traditional choice of a luxurious BMW hot rod, one that, like the M760i, trades on exclusivity and refinement but with a more visceral punch on the road than what BMW’s own engineers could conjure up. A broader bandwidth of performance settings between its default Comfort and full-tilt Sport Plus drive modes nails home that notion, allowing the B7 to gracefully relax or attack with a tap of a button on the console. As a welcome bonus, Alpina’s subtle styling touches, specifically the revised front fascia with an extended chin splitter, work to balance the proportions of the latest 7’s bluff nose—now with 40 percent more kidney grille!—adding to the B7’s stateliness.

BMW

The supple and richly aromatic hides of Alpina’s custom full-leather interior option bolster the B7’s feeling of specialness. But, sadly, that feature is not offered to U.S. customers due to the company’s production limitations. (Alpina builds fewer than 2000 vehicles per year for global distribution.) Not that the trappings of the regular 7-series are lacking in finery, but the 205-mph B7 deserves more than just a sprinkling of Alpina emblems to dress up its cabin. Badge snobs shopping by cylinder count will miss out on the $143,795 B7’s cool factor and capability—and spend about $15K more in the process—as they search out the top-dog M760i for its V-12 bragging rights. Those drivers will have to give way to a hard-charging Alpina B7 in their rearview mirror, though, as the M car is governed to only about 160 mph.

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