2017 BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive

Words: Kevin C. Limjoco

Pictures: Isabel N. Delos Reyes

Not since the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II LWB we tested a couple of years ago have I found myself standing with my mouth open as I studied all the ALPINA equipment and trim upgrades on top of an already magnificent BMW 750Li xDrive. Apparently, Isabel noticed that I kept repeating, the exclamation “WOW!” every few seconds.

To fully appreciate how fabulous this epic sports sedan is, you do have to step back to Germany in 1965 for a moment when BMW began its special synergy with ALPINA, which designed the company’s first Webber dual-carburetors for the 1500 model. From that very successful engineering solution for BMW, ALPINA then developed their own Race Cars with BMW from 1968 to 1977 with famous drivers such as Derek Bell, James Hunt, and Niki Lauda. During this period, ALPINA had wins in the European Touring Car Championship, the German Hillclimb Championship, Rally and Track racing championships and the prestigious Spa 24 Hours. ALPINA was the first automobile manufacturer to use an electronic clutch management system termed ALPINA SHIFT-TRONIC. ALPINA then began creating their own bespoke automobiles for a select circle of connoisseurs who appreciate the extraordinary in both performance and luxury.

For 50 years, thus far, ALPINA Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co KG, which is a family-owned, medium-sized company headed by Burkard, Andreas and Florian Bovensiepen. Based in Buchloe, in the Ostallgäu district of Bavaria, Germany, ALPINA is recognized by the German Ministry of Transport as a genuine automobile manufacturer that so happens to work in close cooperation with one of the greatest automotive brands on earth, BMW. ALPINA has a production output between 1,200 and 1,700 automobiles a year. Every single BMW ALPINA is fitted with its individual production plaque in the interior along with an ALPINA specific VIN, which classifies the car as a product made by an officially registered automotive manufacturer. ALPINA is not regarded as an Aftermarket Tuner because they are integrated with BMW’s production lines.

 

Before I get into how the B7 drives, please allow me to point out a few of the standout upgrades that set the car not just above a fully loaded 750Li xDrive but even BMW’s own M760Li xDrive, which uses a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 producing 600 bhp @ 5,500 rpm / 590 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm, and hits 0-100 km/h in 3.9 seconds with a 305 km/h top speed!  Setting aside the expected ALPINA rebadging campaign, here are the most important updates: the green hand–stitched LAVALINA leather steering wheel, the abundant Myrtle Wood trim, the redesigned 12.3” digital gauge cluster with ALPINA graphics and Head-up Display, the odd SWITCH-TRONIC manual-shift override buttons in place of paddles that command reprogrammed quicker shifting, the unique functional front and rear spoilers, and dual-mode elliptical quad exhausts that look great, sound better than stock, and more importantly, help generate even more power. The mighty BMW 4.4-liter gets new turbos, new intake, new intercooler, special Mahle pistons, new ECU tuning, and a 20-psi peak boost. The end result of the new performance measures is an engine that matches the peak power of BMW’s new V12 in the 760Li over a much wider power band with less weight, which powers the B7 to out handle, out sprint, and travel 25 km/h faster to 330 km/h!

But wait, there are still so much more! ALPINA engineered their own active suspension setup (tuned more aggressively than in the standard 7-series) that includes rear-wheel steering which turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels at higher velocities above 130 km/h at a maximum of 3 degrees. The suspension feels more substantial too without feeling heavy or compromising the cushioned ride with an additional setting called ALPINA Sport + which drops the ride height by 20 mm. Complementing this are signature forged 21-inch ALPINA CLASSIC alloys (8.5” wide up front & 10” wide in the rear) wrapped with tenacious and meaty 255/35R21 98Y front and 295/30R21 102Y rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Managing all this power and weight are equally monumental brakes; four-piston fixed calipers squeeze 15.6” (395 mm) front vented discs while the rear is handled by flouting single sliders on 14.6” (370 mm) vented discs. Surprisingly, our Moonstone Metallic test unit did not get the obligatory stripped ALPINA trim appliqués on its flanks, but it did have the incredible 16-speaker 1400W Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System which we enjoyed almost as much as the experiences in the B7.

 

I did not want to return the B7 after our test schedule ended. The Rolls-Royce Ghost II may be more opulent and even more prestigious than the B7 but it cannot match its driving ability. If I had the money, it would be an immediate purchase. With all its luxury and performance ability, its only possible issue is that this configuration restricts rear passengers to two very fortunate adults. Then again, the whole theme of a super-fast limousine only works with this 4-passenger setup. The ALPINA B7 is brimming with superlatives; it is now the fastest, best handling, most techno-rich super-premium sedan I have ever had the privilege to drive.

Specification – 2017 BMW ALPINA B7 xDrive

Engine: V8, 4395 cc, dohc 32V, Double-VANOS & Valvetronic, Direct Injection Intercooled Twin-Turbo, ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC 8-speed AT

Max power: 600 bhp @ 5750-6250 rpm

Max torque: 590 lb-ft @ 3000-5000 rpm

0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 3.7 sec.

Top Speed: 330 km/h (206 mph)

Fuel Mileage: 16 mpg City / 24 mpg Highway

Price as tested: US$ 165,295.00

C! RATING 10/10

+Only bested by a Rolls-Royce in terms of luxury, but as a fast super-premium sedan, it has no equal

-Flawless

 

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