Freshly updated, the new BMW 7 Series offers two performance flagships.
So you've settled on getting a new BMW 7 Series. Congratulations. Now which one will you get?
The Bavarian automaker is offering no fewer than six powertrain options for its new flagship sedan in the US, and most of them are pretty straightforward. The six-cylinder 740i is the base model, and can be had with or without xDrive all-wheel traction (standard on all others). Then there's the eight-cylinder 750i (pictured), and the plug-in hybrid 745e. But what if you want the top performance model? What might be a simple matter with some models is anything but with the 7 Series.
As with the previous, pre-facelifted version, the top tier of BMW's flagship sedan lineup is shared by two models. In one corner: the M760i xDrive, with its Rolls-Royce-derived 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12. In the other: the Alpina B7 xDrive, with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. Simple matter, right? There's no replacement for displacement, they say, and in most math, twelve beats eight any day of the week. Only not here. Not necessarily.
Both the M760i and B7 boast the same amount of horsepower: a nice, round 600. But with the M760i employing more cylinders and a higher displacement, it produces more torque: 627 lb-ft compared to the Alpina's 590.
So you'd figure the M760i would be faster, right? Only it isn't. Though both utilize all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic, the B7 is quicker off the line – by all of a tenth of a second: where the M760i is quoted to hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, the Alpina is said to take just 3.5. And without a speed limiter imposed, the B7 will keep pulling to 205 mph, after the M760i cuts out at 155. (Highly academic, unless you're on the Autobahn.) So if all else is equal, but the M760i has more torque, why is it slower, you wonder? Because it's heavier.
Where the M760i weighs 5,159 pounds, the B7 (with its smaller engine) tips the scales at "just” 4,855. And the extra 304 pounds make it a bit more lethargic.
Then there's the price. While it's not likely to make a huge difference at this level, the B7 is cheaper by $16,000 – the Alpina commanding $142,695 (delivered), the M760i $158,695. What you get for that extra scratch is the smooth power delivery that only a V12 can offer. Whether that's worth the premium may be largely a matter of personal taste. So if you were making the choice, which would you go for?