The numbered production plaque is present and correct, mounted up in the headlining - but Edition 50s also get a dashboard insert personally signed by the company founder, Burkard Bovensiepen. You can also spec Lavallina leather seats with a chequered blue and green finish, harking back to the B7 S Turbo Coupé of the early 1980s.
As with all Alpinas, the B5 Edition 50 goes down the regular BMW production line and is supported by a BMW-backed warranty. This is, in theory, your only chance to buy a B5 for the foreseeable future, since UK importer Sytner no longer sells the conventional 532bhp model.
For starters, this B5 Edition 50 is seriously rapid. The regular B5 never really felt like it had a desperate need for more power or torque, but once you’ve felt the difference it makes in the Edition 50, you’re unlikely to want to hand it back.
Peak torque kicks in at a heady 3500rpm but in truth there’s more than enough below 2000rpm to get you moving quickly. Most of the time you’ll need lightning reflexes and a gentle right foot to keep the B5 anywhere near the speed limit.
The transmission shifts swiftly and smoothly, although it’s intelligent enough to hold a gear and allow jaw-dropping, uninterrupted acceleration if you want. The rate with which the B5 Edition 50 can get from 60mph to 120mph in seventh, for example, is quite astonishing.
It will probably not surprise you to learn that the Edition 50 is supremely capable on the autobahn. On an unrestricted stretch near Alpina’s Buchloe base it felt stable at 175mph and it was still pulling strongly. Slower traffic is likely to intervene long before the engine runs out of puff, we’d say.
The exhaust makes a louder noise if you’re in either of the B5’s more sporting modes, and you can hear deep woofles as you lift off the throttle (from outside the car, they’re actually crackles). It’s not quite as crisp as a Mercedes-AMG rasp, but it has an appealing Nascar-esque thud if you decide to get a lick on.
Equally, in the car’s more comfort-orientated settings the engine is barely audible at all - especially at a fast motorway cruise, where it’s pulling less than 2000rpm at well beyond the UK speed limit.
The ride in Comfort mode is genuinely cosseting, although there’s a fair amount of body roll to go with it. The suspension still feels pretty compliant in the sports modes, too, but while the body control is undeniably tighter, the B5’s weight means that it’s still not that happy about sudden changes of direction.
It can’t quite disguise its bulk or offer involvement in the same way as, say, a Porsche Panamera, and it's a flaw that's compounded by steering that's deliberately light and frustratingly uncommunicative.
Traction is also an issue, regardless of which setting you’re using; the rear tyres do squirm under hard acceleration, to the point where we think it could be a right old handful on a wet, bumpy B-road.
The cabin is little changed from that of the regular B5, but that's no bad thing. The quality of leathers and materials is superb and you get a fair amount of equipment by BMW standards. Then there's the level of exclusivity that Alpina offers; many buyers relish taking months to choose and fine-tune their car to their exact specification, thanks to a bespoke trim department, and we can see why they would.