ROAD TEST: 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive
The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive. (Shari Prymak)
Shari Prymak, Special to CP24.com
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 11:05AM EDT
BMW has long built high performance M versions of their popular 3-Series and 5-Series models, but the company has yet to fix an M badge to their flagship 7-Series. If the company were to build an M7 though, it would probably turn out something like the Alpina B7.
Alpina has been building high performance versions of BMWs long before the M Division even existed. The brand is based in a small town near Munich. The limited-production cars they build are so extensively modified from regular BMW models that the brand is even recognized as a standalone auto manufacturer by the German government. Only around 50 Alpina B7s will make it to Canada this year, making it one of the most exclusive luxury sedans in the market.
With an impressive 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, the B7 matches the V12-powered M760Li as the most powerful 7-Series in the lineup. Those high numbers are made possible thanks to a twin-turbo V8 from the 750Li that has been enhanced with Alpina-specific turbos, pistons, cooling bits, as well as a different exhaust and intake system. Combined with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, the B7 is capable of launching itself to 100 kilometres in as little as 3.7 seconds, up to an astonishing limited top speed of 310 kilometres per hour.
The accelerative force is simply remarkable, with just the right amount of engine note in the background as the gear changes are fired off. Equally impressive is the high speed stability. Regardless of the rate of pace, the B7 feels totally rock solid and planted, with massive amounts of grip. Alpina also fiddled with the air suspension, active anti-roll bars, and rear-wheel steering to their liking. The result is excellent poise and balance when pushed through the corners, especially when Sport+ mode is selected. Dial things back to Comfort Plus mode, however, and the B7 settles into a relaxing, hushed cruiser. Alpina has not compromised ride quality in the name of performance. In fact, thanks to the use of non-runflat tires, the ride may even be slightly suppler than in other 7-Series models.
In terms of design, the B7 looks largely the same as a regular 7-Series with a few Alpina-specific garnishes, such as a more aggressive aerodynamic package, large lip spoiler on the trunk lid, and a set of tasteful multi-spoke 21 inch wheels. The interior is equally similar, with the most noticeable deviations being the blue instrument dials, a hand-finished steering wheel wrapped in high-end Lavalina leather with blue and green stitching, and an individual production Alpina plaque. The B7 is available with all the same features as a regular 7-Series, which includes everything from gesture controls to multi-stage massaging rear seats controlled with a tablet. Read more about those in our test of the 740Le. I did notice the lack of BMW’s engine stop/start system, but given its somewhat jerky operation, that’s one omission I could happily live with.
At $155,900 to start, the Alpina B7 is roughly 28 grand more the equivalent 750Li xDrive. That is certainly a lot of money, but it is actually a decent value when you consider that the competing Mercedes-AMG S63 4MATIC costs $160,200 before options. Given that the Alpina has more performance potential and is far more exclusive, it’s no contest really. The bigger challenge will be deciding between the Alpina and the V12-powered M760Li, which goes for similar money. Either way, you’ll be getting one of the most capable, exclusive, and over the top models in the 7-Series range. Aren’t life’s choices just tough sometimes?