Alpina is known for building even more luxurious and higher-performance versions of BMW vehicles, but the German tuner nearly built a Mini model.
The Mini brand, which the BMW Group owns and operates, was a candidate for the Alpina treatment, Andreas Bovensiepen, Alpina CEO, told Autocar in a report earlier this month. The project began in the early 2000s, per Bovensiepen, but was quickly ruled out. Primarily, Mini had no associated history with the Alpina name.
Further, cost and complexities were sky-high. Mini, unlike BMW, sells far more affordable vehicles. However, the German tuner mulled a Mini model as an entry-level vehicle. The Alpina boss said a prototype was built, but talk of series production quickly faded after looking at the numbers. Alpina built a model based on the 6 Series instead, which fit in more with the price and heritage of the brand.
Aside from the Mini, there was nearly an Alpina i8, too. Yet, opposition from BMW itself killed the upgraded hybrid sports car. Bovensiepen recalled the tuner squeezed an extra 100 horsepower from the car by using a 4-cylinder engine instead of the car's standard 3-cylinder, but BMW clarified it did not want to give its internal M division, or Alpina, access to i models. The automaker wanted to protect the i division's reputation for environmental friendliness, which canned a hotter i8 from Alpina.
Instead, Alpina stuck to its core business and continued building souped-up BMWs. The latest from the company is the 2020 Alpina B7, based on the current 7-Series sedan. An X7-based super SUV is in the cards, too. The X7 model will likely take some time to reach the market as the X7 production line is currently at capacity. Bovensiepen said he has to consider production volumes because every Alpina vehicle is made on the same assembly line as the BMW on which it's based.