One might assume that even the most discriminating big sedan buyer could find satisfaction from one of the nine versions of BMW’s flagship 7-series. One would be incorrect. For that ultra-discerning person, there’s the BMW Alpina B7: more power, more athletic handling, more exterior styling, more cabin cosseting and, with only 2,000 produced per year, more exclusivity.
Alpina, a limited vehicle production company in its own right, has been partnering with BMW for 40 years to make already exceptional vehicles even better. The B7 is the latest Alpina collaboration, based on BMW’s refreshed 750i and 750Li (the long-wheelbase version) with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Alpina starts its magical B7 transformation by tuning up the 4.4-liter V-8 with bigger turbos, intercoolers, high-performance pistons and cylinder heads that result in 540 horsepower and 538 lb-ft of torque, well above the 750i’s 445 hp and 480 lb-ft. The B7 roars from 0 to 60 in 4.3 seconds and boasts a top speed of 194 mph with rear-wheel drive (193 mph for all-wheel-drive models). The Alpina-enhanced ZF eight-speed transmission puts all that power to the ground with undetectable, lightning-fast gear changes, while massive brakes bring all that whoa to a halt in a hurry.
But Alpina B7 drivers demand more than just power; they want an incomparably elegant, understated package with harmonious handling, style and elegance. And that’s what the B7 delivers. Control and drivability are paramount in the B7, which, after all, is a big, heavy (around 5,000 pounds) land yacht that nevertheless feels solid and sporty while carving up curves and turns without breaking a sweat.
In terms of looks, the exterior emphasis is on elegance. The sporty front bumper and rear spoiler don’t elicit dramatic visual responses, nor do the four exhaust pipes. Even the stunning 21-inch wheels (with Alpina’s signature 20-spoke design) seem demure. The overall effect, however, is pleasingly aggressive without being overly dramatic.
The cabin is equally well thought out and much more dramatic than the exterior. Everything is covered in leather, most all of it hand-stitched. Customization options are mind-boggling, and trim options include myrtle burl wood or black piano lacquer with silver insets.
And seriously, is there an audio system better than a Bang & Olufsen? Crank up “The Sound of Music,” and yodel your way along life’s highways and byways.
Available by special order through your local BMW dealer, Alpina B7 pricing starts at $128,495 for the short-wheelbase, rear-drive B7, while the long-wheelbase version runs $132,395. Adding all-wheel drive adds $3,000. Delivery takes about 12 weeks, maybe longer, but there’s no rushing art.