We like it more than any M car. And here's why.
If you walk into a BMW showroom and ask a salesperson to see their best model, they will likely show you a car with an M badge. BMW's M cars are the company's fastest and most hardcore models and usually carry the highest price tags. But there has never been an M version of BMW's flagship sedan, the 7 Series (only an M760i xDrive M Sport variant). The M760i is a luxury beast with its 600 horsepower 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine but it isn't the only fast 7 Series you can buy.
Alpina has been building its own versions of BMW cars since 1965. The company is now closely integrated with BMW's manufacturing process and even sells cars through the BMW dealership network in the US. Earlier this year, Alpina recently revealed a facelift of its B7 for the 2020 model year, which coincides with a model year update for the 7 Series. We recently had a chance to drive the 2020 Alpina B7 and quickly found it to be the best BMW on sale today. Here are seven reasons why.
BMW received some flack for putting a massive front grille on the facelifted 7 Series. But Alpina has done a much better job of masking it. Alpina's changes to the exterior are subtle but if you look closely, you will notice a revised front end, rear trunk spoiler, and a set of signature wheels (which we will discuss separately). Customers can choose from eight BMW factory colors but we recommend opting for one of the two Alpina-specific colors - Alpina Blue Metalic or Alpina Green Metalic (pictured here).
Alpina has experimented with different wheel styles throughout the years, but the 20-spoke design with hidden valves under the center caps is the most famous of them all. Alpina says its wheels are inspired by motorsport and are specially designed to be lightweight. Wheels designs tend to change drastically as car designs evolve but Alpina's wheels are simply timeless. 21-inch wheels are available but the example we drove was fitted with the smaller 20-inches, which provide a more supple ride.
The B7 we drove was equipped with the $3,900 Luxury Rear Seating Package, which adds heated/ventilated rear seats with massage function and power adjustment as well as a heated steering wheel and front armrests. Driving the B7 is a wonderful experience but sitting in the back is a pleasure all on its own. In addition to the fixed controls on the center armrest, rear occupants have access to a removable Samsung tablet that controls the massage, seat adjustment, side and rear sunshades, and the Sky Lounge roof.
Even before you put it into drive, the Alpina B7 already feels like one of the most comfortable BMW models you can buy. The seats are plusher than most BMWs and the cabin is nearly silent. You'd think that all 7 Series variants are comfortable but this one is on another level. We actually tested it back-to-back with a plug-in hybrid 7 Series and the sportier Alpina was easily the softer of the two. When we went over a speed bump in comfort mode, the impact was completely erased. But when we went back and drove over it again in sport mode, we could feel it more through the suspension.
Alpina has added its own two-axle air suspension system and Dynamic Damper Control, which is self-leveling and can adjust itself up to 1.4-inches. At speeds of over 140 mph, the system can even lower itself by 0.6 inches. The BMW M Division can tune a car to rip around a race track but we've never driven an M car that was this comfortable. We'd describe it as the perfect cross between a BMW M5 and an old-school Lexus LS.
Just like the exterior, Alpina adds its own touches in the cabin to let you know you are driving a special vehicle. There are various leather colors and trim materials to choose from but our favorite is Ivory White leather combined with the Alpina Myrtle Wood trim. Even if you opt for a more mundane color combination, all B7 models include a special plaque below the iDrive control, signaling it as an Alpina. BMW no longer uses analog gauges on the 7 Series, meaning Alpina can no longer include its signature gauge cluster. But the company has designed a special take on BMW's virtual gauges, which are exclusive to Alpina-branded models.
The Alpina B7 isn't just about comfort, it's fast too. BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 has been specially tuned to produce 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It can rocket to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds, which is a strange feeling as your body is pinned back into a cushy massage seat. This car was built for Autobahn top speed runs so unlike other BMW models, it doesn't have a limiter and can go 205 mph.
On a back road, Alpina's suspension does an excellent job managing all the weight. Rear-axle steering also comes standard to help the big bruiser get around tighter corners. If you want one of the most comfortable cars on the road that is also capable of ripping your face off, this is it.
The best part about buying an Alpina B7 is knowing you may never see another one. Whereas M cars are a dime a dozen, Alpina cars are still extremely rare in the United States and still feel special. It is even a bit of a bargain. At $142,695, the B7 is even less expensive than the BMW M760i, which costs $158,695. This rarity, sadly, won't stop the B7 from depreciating like other high-dollar BMW models but it will make you feel special when you own the only one on your block, possibly even your entire state.