by Jared Rosenholtz
American shoppers have only been given a small taste of BMW's Alpina brand with models like the B7 sedan and discontinued B6 Gran Coupe. Alpina's smaller models would not be profitable enough in the US market but with the growing demand for SUVs, we knew it was only a matter of time before BMW brought an Alpina-branded version stateside. The 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 has just landed as BMW's first Alpina-branded SUV model in the US market.
Sitting atop the X7 range, the XB7 is now the most luxurious SUV in BMW's portfolio. Alpina differs from BMW's own M Division because it tunes cars to be fast but still retain comfort, while M cars are designed more for the race track. This unique philosophy puts the XB7 in a unique niche within the luxury SUV segment that should appeal to the most astute car enthusiasts in need of a family hauler.
4.4-liter Twin-Turbo V8 Gas
Starting with the X7 as a base, Alpina has dressed the luxury SUV with its own unique design elements, chief among which is the brand's legendary wheel designs. The XB7 will ride on 21-inch wheels as standard but buyers can also select a 23-inch forged wheel option featuring the 20-spoke Alpina Classic design. Alpina has also designed its own unique front fascia, housing 'Alpina' lettering, and a rear bumper featuring menacing quad exhaust tips. As with previous Alpina-fettled models, the XB7 is the better-looking version of the SUV that it's based on. A number of color options will be available from BMW's pallette but as with all Alpina models, we recommend going with either blue or green.
Alpina is obviously constrained with what it is able to change about BMW's cabin design but with the X7 as a starting point, this is no hardship. The XB7 takes what was already a world-class interior and dials up the luxury with bespoke touches. Multi-contour seats come standard wrapped in Merino leather while blue/green stitching reminds occupants that they are sitting in an Alpina.
Customers can choose from a variety of trims including piano black or a new anthracite option but we highly recommend the Alpina-specific myrtle luxury wood. As with other variants of the X7, the XB7 features a glass shifter and Drive controls, which have been given a special Alpina design. The XB7 also gets a unique gauge cluster design with blue and green coloring and an Alpina production plaque on the center console lid.
Rather than reducing the number of seats down to four, creating an ultra-luxury experience, Alpina has opted to leave the X7's passenger accommodations intact. Buyers can select either a bench seat or captain's chairs in the second row, offering seating for six or seven passengers respectively.
The Alpina XB7 weighs in at a planet-rivaling 5,860 pounds. You wouldn't expect too much performance out of such a heavy vehicle but with a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 firing out 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, the XB7 is sports car quick. BMW says it will hit 60 mph in four seconds flat, go on to a top speed of 188 mph, and complete the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds. Remember, this is a vehicle carrying up to seven seats and massage chairs.
Unlike an M car, we expect the XB7's performance to feel refined, allowing drivers to blast up and down Germany's de-restricted Autobahn in perfect luxury. This level of performance will be overkill in markets like the US, where speed limits top out at around 80 mph, but whoever said we don't love overkill in the US?
Since the Alpina XB7 will be built in South Carolina, it will be arriving relatively soon in the US. Deliveries are expected to begin in September 2020 with pricing starting at $141,300. The XB7 will come decadently equipped as-standard but we are sure there will be room for options. BMW has been clever with the XB7's pricing, carefully finding a sweet spot in the ultra-luxury SUV segment.
The XB7 is priced above mainstream options like the Mercedes-Benz GLS but well below exotic options like the Bentley Bentayga, Mercedes-Maybach GLS, and Rolls-Royce Cullinan. It most closely competes with the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, which starts at $126,150 and packs 603 hp, but since the Alpina packs more power and its own unique heritage, we doubt there will be too much cross-shopping.