Car group tests

Alpina XD3 Biturbo vs Porsche Macan S Diesel

Muscular diesel SUVs from Alpina and Porsche blend rugged looks with sports car pace. Which is better?

If you want an upmarket SUV, do you go for something bespoke, or opt for a car from a premium brand that’s a cut above the likes of even Audi and Mercedes

Best SUVs on the market

To find out what’s best, we’ve lined up candidates from each possible avenue, and fighting in the bespoke SUV corner is Alpina’s new XD3 Biturbo

This luxurious yet sporty 4x4 is a leftfield choice and offers something a little different to the norm: exclusivity. At £56,450, the XD3 looks pricey next to its rival here, the popular £44,636 Porsche Macan S Diesel, but it’s not such a common sight on the road.

Best fast family cars

The question is, are the extra design and tuning touches enough to elevate the BMW X3 on which the Alpina is based into a super-premium 4x4?

With buyers choosing SUVs over refined saloons for their combination of image, high-up driving experience and usability, we pitched our upmarket, mid-size crossover champion, the Macan, against the Alpina to find out which offers a better blend of performance, practicality, refinement and quality.

Can the XD3 spoil the Porsche’s impressive road test record?

Alpina XD3 Biturbo review

Porsche Macan review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which fast SUV comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Equipment

Reversing cameras are optional on both cars, but it’s the Porsche that needs upgrading to match the Alpina’s spec, wiping out its price advantage. You’ll have to fork out for relatively conventional features like Bluetooth and heated seats, but you can save money by not specifying extras, such as the £728 Sport Chrono Package.

Style

Buying this type of SUV makes a statement, so you want your car to have the looks to back it up. Both the XD3 and Macan turn heads, but it’s the Alpina’s big bodykit, bright colour, contrasting wheels and graphics pack that grab the most attention. You can tone it down if it’s too much.

Versatility

Both cars have big boots, but there’s more to practicality than that. Don’t expect much off-road ability, yet towing limits of 2,400kg add usability. However, you’ll need an electronically deployable tow ball, at £765 on the XD3 and £825 on the Macan.

Verdict

1st place: Porsche Macan S Diesel

Yet again, the Porsche Macan takes victory. It’s by a slim margin, but this S Diesel model’s mix of ability, performance, panache and – in this company – price is enough to see it edge ahead of the Alpina. The Macan looks great, feels special and is usable every day, but it’s the way it drives that impresses most. It’s not a sports car, but it’s as close as a diesel-engined SUV gets.

2nd place: Alpina XD3 Biturbo

Many people might be put off by the XD3’s ‘modified’ nature, but they really shouldn’t be. It’s a blisteringly quick car that blends pace with practicality. While the looks won’t suite all tastes, there’s no denying the Alpina’s exclusivity and kerbside impact. The real drawback here is that you have to pay nearly £12,000 more than you do for the Porsche for the privilege.

Other options in this category

Audi SQ5

Price: £44,760Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 309bhp

Audi SQ5 front tracking

The Porsche Macan is based on the Audi Q5, and this hot diesel SQ5 version shares the same basic engine – yet the Audi has 54bhp more for just £124 extra. It’s still beautifully made and very fast, but a stiff ride and lifeless controls limit driver fun.

BMW X3 xDrive35d M Sport

Price: £46,960Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl, 308bhp

If the idea of the Alpina XD3 is too much in terms of looks, you could always opt for the car it’s based on. The 308bhp BMW X3 xDrive35d M Sport races from 0-60mph in just 5.3 seconds, while four-wheel drive and a luxurious interior stack up well next to the Macan.

Key specs:

 Porsche Macan S DieselAlpina XD3 Biturbo
On-the-road price/total as tested£44,636/£56,845£56,450/£59,985
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£26,344/59.0%N/A/N/A
Depreciation£18,292N/A
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£2,575/£5,151£3,590/£7,181
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,914/£3,189£1,897/£3,161
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost39/£522/G/£18050/£1,269/H/£205
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£420/£550/£420£475 (5yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase4,681/2,807mm4,651/2,810mm
Height/width1,624/1,923mm1,670/1,901mm
EngineV6/2,967cc6cyl in-line/2,993cc
Peak power255/4,000 bhp/rpm345/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque580/1,750 Nm/rpm700/1,500 Nm/rpm
Transmission7-spd PDK/4wd8-spd auto/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel60 litres/sealant67 litres/sealant
Boot capacity (seats up/down)500/1,500 litres550/1,600 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,880/695/2,400kg1,910/530/2,400kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.8 metres/0.35Cd11.9 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/2yrs3yrs (unltd)/2yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers20k miles (2yrs)/36Variable (1yr)/18
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.6th/3rd*N/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars88/87/60/588/83/53/5 (BMW X3)
   
0-60/30-70mph5.6/5.5 seconds5.0/4.6 seconds
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.4/3.3 seconds2.0/2.4 seconds
50-70mph in 5th/6th4.5/5.8/8.7 secs/N/A3.2/3.8/4.8/7.0 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph142mph/1,700rpm156mph/1,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph48.7/37.3/9.1m48.8/37.9/9.0m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph62/59/55/61dB77/56/56/64dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range33.9/7.5/447 miles34.2/7.5/504 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined42.2/49.6/46.3mpg38.7/45.6/42.8mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined9.3/10.9/10.2mpl8.5/10.0/9.4mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket223/159g/km/29%221/174g/km/32%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/yes/£332Six/yes/yes/£330
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/£1,052/£284Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£608/£1,061/£477Yes/yes/£495
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£2,007/yes/yes/£272£1,990/yes/yes/yes

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