For a very long time, BMW was staunchly against front-wheel drive. The German automaker even poked fun at front-wheel-drive vehicles in some of its marketing materials. In the last decade or so the purveyors of the "ultimate driving machine" caved, and now there are several front-wheel-drive BMWs to choose from. But even though BMW has embraced front-wheel drive, its go-to tuner says it never will.
Since its inception in 1965, Alpina has been modifying BMWs of all sorts. Everything from the 3-Series to the flagship 7-Series has received the Aplina treatment, and the Buchloe-based firm has even tuned specialty cars like the Z8 roadster. But company CEO Andreas Bovensiepen says Alpina will never touch a front-wheel-drive BMW product.
“No, it’s not our plan,” Bovensiepen said when asked about the prospect of something like an Alpina-tuned 1-Series.
Bovensiepen explained to Australia’s Motoring that the costs associated with developing Alpina versions of front-drive BMW models are simply too high. Unlike BMW’s rear-wheel-drive models, which typically use interchangeable engines and transmission, the automaker’s front-drive models use powertrains unique to that chassis setup. That means development costs can’t be spread over a wide number of model offerings, making it harder to turn a profit.
Bovensiepen also notes that making a profit in general on entry-level cars like the BMW 1-Series is difficult. Shoppers in that segment tend to be price sensitive, so a B1 likely wouldn’t sell in the numbers necessary to turn a profit.
Although small, front-wheel-drive cars aren’t in Alpina’s future plans, big SUVs are. The company is currently working on a version of the BMW X7 called XB7 that will boast at least 600 horsepower from a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8.