2018 BMW Alpina B7 review

If you need to get rid of almost $400,000 and want the automotive equivalent of a velvet sledgehammer, the Alpina B7 may be the limousine for you.

Don't even look at the price tag. The BMW Alpina B7 BiTurbo isn't a car bought by somebody after bang for their buck or free floor mats. It's a luxury grand tourer that is built to assault Autobahns and turn fuel into smiles.

With a price tag of $369,720 plus on-road costs, the Alpina B7 builds on an already healthy base set of features from its 750Li donor car.

You'll spot the Alpina B7 in traffic courtesy of an Alpina badge on the left rear, with a B7 BiTurbo badge on the right rear. Enthusiastic owners can even option the Alpina stripes on the sides and the additional Alpina body kit, like you see on our test car. The biggest giveaway, though, is the incredible-looking multi-spoke Alpina Classic 21-inch alloy wheels.

Open the driver's door and you're greeted with a stunning interior that features bespoke Alpina highlights. The steering wheel is hand-stitched Lavalina leather, while Alpina build badges and emblems are masterfully featured on the dashboard and steering wheel. Gone also are paddle shifters, instead replaced with soft-touch buttons.

It's impossible to fault the level of luxury on offer within the cabin. It even smells luxurious – partially thanks to the fragrance canisters in the glovebox that pump out user-selected odours while driving.

Buyers can also customise their Alpina beyond the standard specification. These changes include an almost endless range of interior colours and materials, all handcrafted by Alpina's craftsmen. It's possible to drop over $30,000 on a custom Lavalina leather interior, if that's your thing.

Audio lovers will want to head directly for the $10,651 Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround-sound system. Featuring a 10-channel 1200W amplifier and 16 speakers, surround sound comes courtesy of a seven-band equaliser with three analogue crossover networks and five sound settings.

I could spend hours listing all the features within the cabin, but the main highlights include heated/cooled/massage seats, rear seat entertainment with two 9.2-inch colour touch screens, radar cruise control with semi-autonomous driving, BMW Display key, power door closers, power boot, quad-zone climate control, BMW Laserlights, iDrive 6 with Apple CarPlay and a 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

The Alpina B7 BiTurbo is built from an already healthy base in the BMW 750Li. Alpina uses the 750Li's 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine and tunes it to extract even more power and torque.

The N63 V8 from the 750Li begins life as an engine that produces 330kW of power and 650Nm of torque. It'll move from 0–100km/h in 4.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 260km/h. The Alpina B7 bumps that up a notch, pumping out 447kW of power and 800Nm of torque, shaving the 0–100km/h sprint down to just 4.2 seconds, with a revised top speed of 330km/h.

Alpina achieves these ridiculous numbers by making a number of changes to the original BMW engine. These changes include a new intake and intercooler, upgraded turbochargers, a dual-mode Alpina exhaust system, around 20psi of turbocharger pressure, Mahle pistons and a new set of super-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

Hit the starter button and the V8 engine turns over with minimal fuss to a quiet thrum. It idles gently and there's barely any indication of what lurks beneath. Even in Sport mode the idle is quite subdued – it's not like an S63 or S65 at idle.

As you set off, the refinement of the package begins to shine through. Self-levelling air suspension allows the ride to offer several levels of comfort. In Comfort mode, the ride is incredibly smooth to the level that it's Rolls-Royce-like.

The only issue you'll come across with low-speed driving is that the front end literally scrapes on the slightest of driveways. It's worse than even the sportiest of sports cars. Kind of strange given this car should be the carefree comfortable option – not the one you need to worry about scraping out of virtually every driveway.

At low speeds the steering is light, but still offers ample communication. The throttle in Comfort mode can be a little dull at low speeds. Minor inputs take a little while to respond, but it's something that you easily become used to.

As the speed picks up, we weren't able to find a surface that would unsettle the B7. It soaks up even the worst of roads to the point you forget what potholes and corrugations feel like to drive over.

Beneath the B7's skin is quite a complex suspension set-up. The twin-axle air suspension teams with Dynamic Damper Control and a feature called Road Preview that uses a stereo camera to view the road surface ahead and actively predict a damping mode to even out the ride. Damping is controlled electronically for both rebound and compression.

Rear wheel steering works in unison with Active Roll Stabilisation to minimise body roll and offer precise response to steering inputs. In Sport+ mode, the suspension drops by 20mm and increases the speed at which the variable-ratio steering rack interacts with the rear active steering module. At low speeds it works in an opposite direction, while at higher speeds it works with the front wheels at a maximum of three degrees of lock.

The first time you drop the hammer is an unforgettable experience – 800Nm of torque peaks between 3000–5000rpm, and it's in that sweet zone that the speedometer climbs at a chilling pace. The sprint time from standstill to 100km/h is really irrelevant because if you ease off the throttle at 100km/h, you'll be nudging 130–150km/h before the car stops accelerating.

Move over to Sport mode and the throttle becomes razor sharp and torque delivery is even more urgent. It's not hard to see why a top speed of 330km/h makes this an appealing option for German residents or those close enough to exploit derestricted sections of Autobahn. While those front and rear spoilers may look a bit out of place on a 7 Series, they help the B7 reduce lift at higher speeds.

As you roll into some twisty roads, the B7 begins to show its weight. It measures in at just under 2000kg, and despite all the technology crammed beneath its skin, there are limits to what it can do. But in saying that, it's hard to imagine how a car this size can perform as well as it does.

The Michelin rubber allows it to hold on tight even under heavy throttle, to the point it's difficult to gauge just how far you can push it before the limits are reached.

Braking is taken care of thanks to huge four-piston 394mm brakes up front and 369mm at the rear. They take several confident hits with little indication of fade. It's this type of big braking system needed to pull the B7 up confidently from over 300km/h.

Even in Sport+ mode the car could do with more noise from the exhaust. While it does offer a confident thump when it switches gears, it misses that soul-shaking bark of a Mercedes-AMG.

Gear shifts come courtesy of a stellar ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel consumption is officially rated at 9.6 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle (up from 8.5L/100km in the 750Li), but you can expect much higher if you get stuck into the throttle regularly.

Mind you, with a mix of city and highway driving, we managed low 11s without too much struggle. Not bad for a car capable of over 300km/h.

Despite its big price tag, the Alpina B7 delivers an unparalleled driving experience. It's fast when it needs to be fast and comfortable when it needs to be comfortable. It's also conservative enough to blend into traffic, while trainspotters will fall over themselves to give you a thumbs up.

The Alpina B7 really is a true masterpiece of automotive engineering. If you're lucky enough to be in the market for a fast limousine, you couldn't spend your money on anything else.

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