by Jay Traugott
BMW's 7 Series has always been the ultimate expression of the brand's latest advances in technology and design, and few would look at this lavish, large luxury sedan thinking that it's not quite enough. Alpina feels differently, and the BMW-backed tuning partner continues to deliver souped-up versions of BMW's best. In the B7, that means a heavily reworked 750i xDrive sedan putting out a prodigious 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque as it swats away the 0-60 mph run in just 3.6-seconds. Along with the Audi S8 and the Mercedes-AMG S63, the B7 delivers an unparalleled mix of opulence and speed. However, unlike those two German rivals, the Alpina B7 is built in far more limited numbers, assuring the few lucky owners of a high level of exclusivity. For the 2019 model year, the B7 continues to enjoy the usual Alpina trimmings that set it apart from the regular 7 Series, while also getting more standard safety features added to the equipment list. If the standard 7 Series is a bit too much of a wallflower for you, this could be the car you want.
Available as an option last year, the Driving Assistance safety package is now standard on the B7. Its active safety features include blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, forward collision warning and mitigation, and speed limit information. Support for Apple CarPlay is now standard, although it's limited to a one-year subscription.
No major changes have been made to the 2019 B7's exterior, not that any were needed - this remains the meanest-looking 7 Series you can buy. 20-inch Alpina-specific wheels, a unique front lip, a rear spoiler, bespoke finishers for the quad exhausts, and a special diffuser all help the B7 stand out. Together with large luxury sedan essentials like LED headlights and soft-closing doors, the Alpina B7 certainly knows how to make an entrance.
There's nothing small about the B7 in any direction. At 206.7 inches in length, 58.7 inches in height, and 74.9 inches wide, it looks and feels big. The wheelbase stretches to 126.4 inches, which is a full five inches lengthier than the short-wheelbase 7 Series, which is available in other markets. Curb weight is a considerable 4,820 lbs; this is just one pound heavier than the Mercedes-AMG S63.
A comprehensive, eleven-strong color palette means that even the fussiest buyers should find a shade to suit their tastes. The standard exterior color is Alpine White, while six metallic shades are also available, namely Alpina Blue, Alpina Green, Black Sapphire, Glacier Silver, Magellan Gray, and Mineral White. Optional metallic colors are Almandine Brown, Azurite Black, Moonstone, and Ruby Black.
The B7's accelerative abilities are mind-boggling, considering its sheer size and weight. That said, 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque probably have something to do with it. Whatever the speed or gear you're in, the all-wheel-drive B7 has more in reserve than you'd expect. 60 mph comes up in a ridiculous 3.6-seconds, matching the V12-engined BMW M760i. An optimized eight-speed automatic transmission is a fine pairing with the twin-turbo V8, with the lightning-fast shifts helping to achieve these stunning performance figures. Without its speed limiter, the B7 will reach a maximum speed of 193 mph. While top competitors will match the B7's performance, none will significantly outrun it in a straight line.
Using the 750i's 4.4-liter Twin-Turbo V8 engine as a base, Alpina's engineers have tweaked an already superb powerplant to increase outputs to 600 hp and 590 lb-ft. The blame for these frankly ludicrous figures lies with an improved air intake and cooling, along with bigger turbos and a sportier exhaust system. The eight-speed automatic transmission has also been fettled to provide optimal shift points, especially in Sport mode, when it will relentlessly hold on to a gear all the way to the rev limiter.
It all combines to deliver crushingly capable performance, whether from a standing start or on the move. In the B7, overtaking is replaced by blasting past slower-moving traffic, so easily accessible is the performance on tap. While always refined, there's just enough of a sporty burble when planting the throttle to serve as an audible reminder of what this car is capable of. All in all, the Alpina B7's performance is a stunning achievement.
A host of suspension upgrades are intended to counter the B7's considerable weight, providing both stable cornering and the ability to cosset like any well-sorted large luxury sedan should. The Driving Dynamics Control system allows you to choose between Comfort and Sport modes, while there is even more customization within these modes. For instance, in Sport+ mode, the B7 sits 0.8-inches lower to the ground to reduce the center of gravity and ultimately improve handling.
Does it all work? Yes, indeed. Comfort+ sees the B7 gliding down the road and smothering surface imperfections as if they weren't there. Together with the 7 Series' inherently high refinement levels, this makes sitting in the back of the B7 and being driven around an extremely relaxing affair. However, swap seats with the chauffeur, and you're likely to be just as impressed. There is reasonable feel through the steering, which is well-weighted and neither too light nor too heavy. In Sport mode, the B7 surprises with its ability to haul itself through a couple of tight turns, although you'll very often be aware of its sheer size. Still, body roll is admirably kept in check, and while the Sport setting will firm up the suspension, it never gets harsh or uncomfortable. The large brakes are similarly up to the task with brilliant bite and good feedback through the pedal.
While the decision to purchase the Alpina B7 is unlikely to be swayed by its efficiency, EPA-rated estimates for the B7 work out to 17/25/20 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a large 20.6-gallon gas tank, the mixed cruising range will be 412 miles. Premium unleaded fuel is required. These are nearly identical economy numbers to those of the Mercedes-AMG S 63.
A few Alpina touches have given the 7 Series' rather conservative interior design a lift. However, there's no denying the quality of the materials used and the logical layout of most of the controls. Unique to the Alpina B7 are blue gauges, Alpina badging in place of the traditional BMW roundel, and the availability of Alpina-specific trim options. There's plenty of space on offer, while rear legroom is exceptional. The soft seats are trimmed in fine leather and are wonderfully comfortable. There's also no shortage of on-board tech, and even more so now that a raft of driver-assist safety features have been added.
Seating five passengers in the lap of luxury, the B7 makes you feel like you've made it, regardless of which seating position you find yourself in. Ingress and egress are simple thanks to large doors with an automatic soft-close feature. The front seats offer an opulent amount of padding and a wide range of adjustability. At the back, the lengthy wheelbase provides stretch-out space for all, although the two outboard seats are significantly more comfortable than the slimmer middle rear seat. Unlike the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe, the B7's more traditional roofline means that headroom isn't a problem.
A choice of 12 interior colors and different leather upholstery options ensure that you can drive away with the B7 that suits you best. Nappa leather is standard and available in Black, Canberra Beige, Cognac, Ivory White/Black, Mocha, and Zagora Beige/Black.
Full Merino leather is an option, and the color choices here are Black, Caramel/Black, Cashmere Beige/Black, Fiona Red/Black, Smoke White/Black, and Tartufo.
In general, you'll have a hard time spotting any cheap bits of plastic inside the cabin of the B7. Everything looks and feels suitably premium. A wide range of interior accent trim choices is available, including striking Myrtle luxury wood.
More than just a high-speed missile, the B7 also has a commodious 18.2 cubic feet of trunk space available, which is one of the biggest in this class. Two large suitcases and two smaller totes could fit comfortably, or even four sets of golf clubs. The wide, squared-off opening also makes loading bigger items easier. There is also a pass-through for loading longer and narrower objects, while a powered trunk is standard.
There's a useful amount of small-item storage dotted around the interior, including a center console that is a decent, although not massive, size. The glove box is smaller than average, but well-sized door bins and a center rear-seat armrest with additional storage space do help.
Priced below only the M760i within the 7 Series range, the B7 is available with many standard features. The front seats are heated and power-adjustable in virtually every direction. There's also four-zone climate control, a rearview camera, a power-adjustable steering wheel to easily achieve the optimal driving position, a panoramic sunroof, soft-close doors, a rearview camera and hands-free operation of the trunk lid. Standard driver assistance features are a welcome inclusion for the 2019 model year, with blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and mitigation, and lane departure warning making the B7 safer to pilot than ever before. A generous range of packages and options add even more luxury, with an available luxury rear seating package that includes rear seats with both ventilation and massaging functions.
It was the controversial E65 7 Series that first introduced BMW's iDrive system to the world in the early 2000s. Heavily criticized for its confusing and distracting ways, BMW has thankfully improved the system to a point where it is now top-of-the-class. So, this means that the B7 also gets a 10.2-inch touch screen, which offers clear graphics and high processing speeds. It's linked to a standard navigation system. Beyond the touch screen, you can also control various functions using voice commands and gesture control, the latter loved by some and hated by others. A 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay with a one-year subscription, wireless phone charging, USB ports, HD radio, satellite radio, and Bluetooth connectivity are all standard. Android Auto integration is not available. Both a rear-seat entertainment system and a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system are optional.
With a J.D. Power score of 88 out of 100, the 2019 Alpina B7 promises to offer buyers a good ownership experience. However, the Lexus LS tops the class with an exemplary rating of 95. Still, standards in the large luxury sedan segment are exceedingly high. While the 7 Series range has had three NHTSA recalls over the last two model years, none have specifically affected the Alpina B7.
The B7's basic warranty extends to four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. There is also a four-year/50,000-mile drivetrain warranty and roadside assistance for four years, regardless of the miles covered.
The Alpina B7 hasn't been crash-tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, which is frequently the case within this segment. However, BMW has an excellent safety record, and the B7 is fitted with a full house of active and passive safety equipment, so there's little reason to doubt its ability to keep passengers protected.
For 2019, the Alpina B7 gets the previously optional Driving Assistance Package as standard. These active safety features include blind-spot detection, forward collision warning, city collision mitigation, speed limit information, lane departure warning, and daytime pedestrian protection.
These features are in addition to dual-front airbags, side and head airbags front and rear, and a driver's knee airbag. The optional Driving Assistance Plus package adds side collision avoidance, an active lane keeping assistant, and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality.
The Alpina B7 is an exceptional luxury car and potentially the best 7 Series you can buy. Not only does it match the V12-engined M760i's performance, but the B7 does so at a cheaper price and while offering a unique aura that is difficult to quantify until you experience it. Alpina's expertise shows in the way the B7 accelerates, rides, and handles, without compromising on any of the 7 Series' traditional strengths. Comprehensive exterior and interior detailing also sets the B7 apart as something special. These same differences also leave the Mercedes-AMG S 63 - an exceptional luxury car in its own right - looking a bit too familiar. Plus, the B7 isn't all about explosive performance and head-turning looks, either - it now also offers additional driver assistance safety equipment, and the large trunk ensures it's practical enough for most daily duties. Whether you're seated behind the wheel or behind the driver, Alpina's B7 is a mightily impressive luxury sedan.
The single-model BMW Alpina B7 with xDrive starts at an MSRP of $139,350 before options. The price is exclusive of taxes, licensing, registration, and a destination fee of $995.
There's just one variant of the Alpina B7 available, so there's no need to go sifting through multiple trim levels. Fitted with a 4.4-liter Twin-Turbo V8 engine, the Alpina B7 xDrive produces 600 hp and 590 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive are both standard.
Equipment levels are high, with the flashy exterior emphasized by 20-inch Alpina wheels, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, and a bespoke rear spoiler and diffuser. Quad tailpipes with a chrome finish are also unique to this model. Changes to the interior over the standard 7 Series include an Alpina steering wheel with buttons for changing gears manually, blue-shaded instruments with red needles, and an Alpina production plate sited on the center console. The leather front seats boast heating and extensive power adjustment, while there is also four-zone climate control. A rearview camera, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, the iDrive interface with a 10.2-inch touch screen, and several driver assistance safety features are all standard.
|Alpina B7 xDrive LWB||
4.4-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
The Driving Assistance Plus Package adds even more driver-assist safety gear to the B7's arsenal. Active cruise control with stop and go, a traffic jam assistant, side collision avoidance, and lane keeping assist are all yours for $1,700.
The $1,800 Interior Design Package adds upgraded interior materials for an even richer environment to travel in. An Ivory White Alcantara headliner, additional wood trim, and luxury rear floor mats form part of this package.
Two of the most expensive and desirable packages both enhance the rear seating area. The Luxury Rear Seating Package costs $3,900, and the Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package costs a whopping $5,750. The latter deletes the rear center seat and also allows for a reclining seat and footrest behind the front passenger seat. Intriguing standalone options include remote parking and a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system.
With just one trim to choose from, choice will come down to which packages or options you choose for your B7. If you can make the stretch (excuse the pun), we'd highly recommend at least the cheaper of the two Luxury Rear Seating packages. These rear seats are majestically comfortable, offer both ventilation and massaging functionality, and make the Alpina B7 an absolute joy to be driven in. Plus, you'll still walk away with a cost-saving over the equally rapid M760i.
Two ultimate luxury sedans with limousine-like comfort and the performance of a supercar. While the S-Class is often viewed as the default large luxury sedan and the BMW 7 Series is the more anonymous choice, the same doesn't really apply to the Alpina B7. Both have similarly vicious V8 engines and all-wheel-drive. The S63 has an even more magnificent interior that edges the B7's for style and top-class detailing. Both have sensational comfort in the rear seats and can be upgraded to offer rear-seating that any A-lister would be satisfied with. While the AMG has the more aggressive growl, the B7 has a breadth of ride and handling talents that is incredibly wide. These two constantly trade blows, but the B7's rarity over even one of the great AMG models gives it the edge.
An altogether different animal to the B7, Audi's A8 is nevertheless an accomplished player in the large luxury sedan segment. The 4.0-liter TFSI uses Quattro all-wheel-drive to put down its 453 hp. While this makes it rapid, it can't compete with the B7's outputs. This variant of the A8 is, however, over $40k less expensive. Dynamically, the super comfortable A8 provides a serene ride but isn't as consistent as the B7 over a range of different surfaces. The Alpina is also the more engaging of the two when the road gets twisty. Both have lovingly crafted cabins, and each can overwhelm with the sheer amount of on-board tech, although the B7's more old-school layout is easier to digest at first glance. The Audi A8 is a beautifully balanced luxury sedan and a good buy, but the Alpina B7 tugs at the heartstrings like few other sedans in this segment.