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Geneva 2013: Alpina XD3 Bi-Turbo is an unexpected performance SUV

Alpina XD3 Bi-TurboAlpina is as well known for tuning BMWs as the Bavarian Motor Works’ own M Division, but the unveiling of the XD3 Bi-Turbo at the Geneva Motor Show was still a surprise. It’s Alpina’s first SUV, and under the hood is a seemingly un-sporty diesel engine.

This is no ordinary diesel, though. Based on the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six used in the X3 xDrive35d, it’s been massaged to produce 359 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The enhanced engine is attached to an eight-speed ZF automtaic transmission and all-wheel drive.

Alpina says the XD3 Bi-Turbo will sprint from 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 kph) in 4.9 seconds, and reach a top speed of 157 mph. It’ll do all that while getting an estimated 34.5 mpg.

In keeping with Alpina’s tradition of civilized performance, the XD3 Bi-Turbo also has electronically adjustable suspension that’s been tuned specifically for this application. The Drive Performance Control system has Normal, Sport, and Sport+ modes, depending on the driver’s mood.

Visual changes include Alpina’s signature “Classic” wheels, a subtle body kit with front spoiler, and quad tailpipes. The overall look is subtle, which is what distinguishes an Alpina from the factory M cars or other tuned Bimmers.

Alpina builds cars for the road, not the track, which is why in the United States it’s known best for the B7, a performance version of the 7 Series that BMW would never build itself.

Until recently, BMW wouldn’t put turbochargers or automatic transmissions in its performance models either, so Alpina was able to develop a profitable niche by using these parts in its cars.

If you’re in the mood for a sporty SUV that isn’t as garish as BMW’s own X5M and X6M, you’re out of luck, actually. The Alpina XD3 Bi-Turbo will only be sold in Europe.