It should come as no surprise that a nearly $150,000 flagship luxury sedan is a bit of an exotic, and unrelatable. Every day in the Alpina B7 was a rollercoaster of emotions and opinions. The first day was full of excitement and interest but on the last day, I was left a bit confused and isolated.
Engine: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8
Output: 600 hp, 590 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (MPG):17 City, 25 Highway, 20 Combined
Fuel Economy (l/100kms): N/A
Price (USD): $139,350
Price (CAD): $158,500
Readers too might be confused about the Alpina as a name that’s rarely thrown around, if at all. Sometimes BMW fanatics will get a set of the 20-spoke Alpina wheels or badges and stick it to their car, but doing just that doesn’t actually make the vehicle an Alpina.
What makes an Alpina is a whole process. The company is actually considered an automotive manufacturer. Yet this Alpina B7 is based on the flagship BMW 7-Series, a car that already exudes quality, class and features a huge price tag. While the base car is started and built on the usual production line in Dingolfing, Germany as other BMW 7-Series, its special engine is made in a secret Alpina lair in Buchloe, Germany, before being shipped to the line and installed. Then, the car is sent back to Alpina for its finishing touches. Maybe the high price tag is for all this transportation back and forth.
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That unique engine is a special part of the B7, featuring 4.4-liter of displacement to go along with twin turbochargers and eight cylinders. The powertrain makes a hearty 608 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque and sends the power to all four wheels, but it’s important to realize that this isn’t just the same setup that’s found in something like the BMW M5, but is uniquely designed and tuned for Alpina purposes. Alpina spent time honing the air intake system, and the engine also features two, big, uniquely developed twin-scroll turbochargers as well as an optimized high-performance cooling system. Simply put, the beating heart of this Alpina is unlike the BMW’s other engines including the ones in M-models.
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The purpose of all that is to bring out a lot of giggle-inducing torque. The Alpina B7 is a big yet fast sedan, hitting highway speeds in well under 4 seconds. Think about that, this full-size sedan, practically a limo, can outrun a 911. There’s hardly any wheelspin when you put your foot down, but people will hear the engine rumble and snort its way to hyperspeed. The Alpina B7 features a lightweight sports exhaust but from within the cabin, you don’t hear too much, this is a high-end luxury car after all. One strange quirk about the vehicle is that there two small buttons behind the steering wheel to change gears, which are a bit less ergonomic than paddle shifters that are usually expected.
It’s also incredibly exclusive. Under 1,700 Alpinas of various types are made each year, and about 400 of these will make it to North America. In comparison, BMW has already sold over 8,000 7-Series in Canada and the US this year.
In the case of this Alpina B7, it’s one of only twenty-one, although a plaque in the center console says “1 of 7.” That’s because it’s one of seven in frozen grey, while there are seven in frozen black and a final seven in black sapphire metallic. The Frozen Grey is flat, with a sinister look that caught many eyeballs. Of course, the Alpina-exclusive 20-spoke wheels look amazing (no wonder all the BMW fanboys get a set) and there are a ton of Alpina and B7 badges and logos to be found all over the vehicle.
Many exterior accents are done up in a dark black trim. The kidney grills are a glossy deep black while other pieces like the exhaust feature dark chrome, finishing the Batmobile aura.
Inside, the Alpina really shines, as any BMW 7-Series would. The cabin is luxuriously appointed with plush materials and high-tech gadgets. The floormats and headliner are even made with exotic feeling surfaces, and even the headrests are soft and comforting. You’ll find BMW’s high-end Full Merino Leather on the seats, door panels and dash, with contrast stitching, while piano black interior wood trim accents the rest of the cabin. I really liked the grey, almost silver stitching on the steering wheel.
All seats have a massage function which helps during long trips, or slow stints in heavy traffic, while rear seats have a handy lounge and recline function too. In order for rear passengers to control their seats, as well as the rear seat entertainment system, the car offers a removable tablet, that can be removed and used as a normal personal device. Other neat features include the wow-inducing, but frankly, gimmicky gesture controls for the infotainment system. The car also features a digital gauge cluster, which is redone for Alpina, with an attractive blue background.
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Driving the car is a treat, as it’s so full of power yet also so smooth and comforting. It’s not only fast but actually maneuverable, at least as agile as a 4,600 lbs full-size luxury sedan can be. The rear-axle steering helps here, allowing the car to feel small and nimble at low speeds, and also stable at high speeds. The suspension is a bit on the stiff side, but I appreciate the fact that unlike modern BMW M- performance cars, the Alpina had a limited selection of a few drive modes to fit my mood, rather than a long list of settings for each individual component. Sport and Sport + mode worked when I wanted to be aggressive, while Comfort and Adaptive were for the more mundane driving conditions. I never used the Eco Pro mode, but wondered “what kind of owner of an ultra-exclusive performance sedan would use that setting?”
Everything about the Alpina B7 is smooth and when it’s rolling along on the road, people recognize that this is a big deal. A few BMW enthusiasts picked up on the Alpina B7 and were extremely interested in the car.
But as cool as the Alpina is, there’s one glaring issue. It’s the BMW M760i, which is a relatively new car from BMW, that has a similar mission to the Alpina: it features a high-horsepower, sporty drive and an air of exclusivity. This is where some confusion comes in regarding how “special” the B7 is. Unlike the B7, the M760i is not a limited production vehicle and it bit more expensive than the Alpina. The BMW uses a twelve-cylinder engine (the same one that’s found in a Rolls-Royce) that makes 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque and seems just as fast. The BMW is a bit heavier and has to rely on more electronic aids to be sporty to drive. It’s also far worse on fuel than the Alpina, but I suppose that’s what happens when there are 50 percent more cylinders at play.
The Verdict: 2019 BMW ALPINA B7 Exclusive Edition Review
The question is, do you want the most BMW 7-series you can get? The M760 seems like the right answer for people looking for excess, but the Alpina B7 is the answer for the buyer looking for the unique and exclusive vehicle.