There’s always something intangibly wonderful about an ALPINA. It’s not the extra speed or the quality of the leather. It’s something else entirely, something that can’t be seen, touched or measured. Drive any standard BMW back-to-back with its ALPINA sibling and the latter will always be the car you want to continue driving.
Oddly enough, there’s also something surprisingly wonderful about the BMW X7, as it’s far more enjoyable to drive than it should be. So if you mix the two together, ALPINA and the X7, you should get something extra special, right? Well, you get this — the ALPINA XB7.
Welcome The Most Powerful ALPINA Ever
The latest edition to the ALPINA fleet is the XB7, its largest, most powerful and most luxurious production vehicle to date. Like most ALPINA products, the XB7 is subtle in its design at first glance, so it doesn’t look unlike a normal BMW X7, until you get up close.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the new lower front valance with the classic “ALPINA” badge built in. Out back, a subtle rear diffuser sits nestled in between quad exhaust pipes that hint at the power underneath. When it finally stops moving, you’ll also notice the stunning optional, Anthracite-finished 23″ classic ALPINA-style wheels (21″ wheels are standard). But overall, the XB7 is a subtle looking car, one that doesn’t shout about its power or luxury.
Step inside and that same sentiment remains. The interior looks similar to that of a standard X7 but it’s only after a closer look that you’ll notice the fine differences. And they are fine differences. While the Merino leather seats are carryovers from the X7 xDrive50i, the steering wheel has been wrapped in ultra-fine Lavalina Leather.
There are also little ALPINA touches, such as badges and plaques throughout the car. For instance, there’s the classic ALPINA model badge on the center console tray, illuminated ALPINA door sill plats and even some badging on the rugs. Aside from that, though, it’s not too different from an X7.
However, there are some major differences between the ALPINA XB7 and the BMW X7, they just all lie under the skin. But let’s start with what’s under the hood.
Revised and Improved V8
Powering the XB7 is an ALPINA-tuned version of BMW’s 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged engine. This is nothing new, as it’s effectively the same monstrous engine that powers the ALPINA B7 sedan. So it gets the same tuning treatment; bigger twin-scroll turbochargers, upgraded intake and exhaust manifolds, additional water, transmission and oil coolers and a new stainless steel exhaust system.
All of that combines to make 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful ALPINA to date, even if it’s just by a few ponies.
According to BMW and ALPINA, the XB7 is capable of 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat and can nail the quarter-mile in just 12.6 seconds. That makes it faster to 60 mph than an F82 BMW M4, despite weighing as much as the M4 with a Mazda MX-5 on the roof.
The ALPINA XB7 also gets a revised eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic gearbox, which has been tuned for both faster responses and smoother shifts. That gearbox is still paired with an xDrive all-wheel drive system but one that’s also been tuned by ALPINA and features an electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential. So it should be a more impressive athlete than a hulking SUV of its size has the right to be.
Helping to improve its lateral athletics is a new ALPINA-tuned suspension. The engineers in Buchloe have given the ALPINA XB7 bespoke suspension kinematics and geometries, as well as a two-axle air suspension, to keep all of that weight in check when hustling it around. ALPINAs have a long history of higher-speed stability than their Bavarian siblings and the XB7 should be no different.
Its as-standard air suspension can raise and lower and different speeds, for different reasons. At low speeds, the suspension will raise to clear steep driveways or speed bumps. At higher speeds, though, the ALPINA XB7 will lower its suspension and ride height for better stability.
In Sport Mode, at speeds of over 100 mph, it will lower itself 0.8 inches (20 mm) and additional 0.8 inches if speeds crest 155 mph. Think 155 mph is high for a nearly three-ton SUV. Well, the ALPINA XB7 is capable of blowing right past that to an electronically-limited 180 mph. Though, it can only hit that 180 mph top speed with its 21″ wheels and performance tire package.
This sort of power speed in an SUV is simply not for the sane. The desire to drive a nearly three-ton SUV at speeds dangerously close to 200 mph would make anyone fit for a straitjacket. Is it weird that I kind of want to do it more, now?
The ALPINA XB7 is priced at $142,295 (including $995 destination), a $41,700 over the $100,595 ask for the BMW X7 M50i. Deliveries are set to begin in September.