Mercedes-Benz has been at this game longer than BMW and far longer than ALPINA. Making big SUVs fast is something that the three-pointed star has been good at for ages. It all started with the Mercedes-Benz GL63 AMG, a three-row SUV with a stonking twin-turbocharged V8 a more performance than an SUV had the right to have. However, the folks in Stuttgart no longer have the monopoly on such cars, as BMW introduced an uber-fast, three-row SUV of its own — the ALPINA XB7.
Admittedly, the XB7 isn’t actually an entirely BMW product. It started out life as one but then ALPINA took a standard BMW X7 and gave it some juice. Now, it’s stronger, faster and more luxurious and right in line with the fastest brute from Affalterbach (home of AMG), the Mercedes-AMG GLS63. Being that we’ve driven neither, we can’t comment on how they drive. That said, we can compare how they look. So let’s do that now.
Up front, it looks like Mercedes-Benz saw the X7’s monstrous grille and decided to one-up it. Both have disproportionately large grilles. However, it actually seems like the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is the better looking car of the two. Its grille is enormous, sure, but the rest of it seems more cohesive. The XB7’s headlights are too slim and its lower front fascia just seems a bit too dainty. There is something to be said about the way an “ALPINA” badge makes the front end look better, though.
Out back, the win goes to the ALPINA XB7, though. While modern Mercedes’ have great front end designs, their butts seem to lack that same style. Every modern Mercedes’ rear end seems like it’s sagging and the GLS63’s is no exception. Whereas the XB7 is tighter, sleeker and more athletic looking from the back. Also, quad circle exhaust looks better than quad square (rhombus?).
In profile, I think the win has to go to the ALPINA XB7 again. While they’re both a bit too tall and upright to look sporty, it’s those stunning ALPINA wheels the do the trick. They instantly make the XB7 look sexier and really make the difference here. That said, the Mercedes-AMG GLS63 isn’t actually too far behind. They’re both pretty close in overall profile.
Inside, this is a bit of a toss-up. Personally, I like the design of the GLS63’s interior more. It looks more special, exciting and expensive. However, I’ve been inside the standard GLS-Class and the standard X7 and the latter is the one with better material quality. Considering that ALPINA is typically superior to BMW in terms of build quality, it would stand to reason that the ALPINA XB7 would feel better on the inside than the GLS-Class. Still, without sitting in both cars, we can’t comment either way definitively.
Where we can comment definitively is in space and comfort. Again, I’ve personally been in both the X7 and GLS-Class and the interior space isn’t going to change from either of those cars to these more powerful versions. In both the second and third rows, the BMW is more spacious, more practical and features more amenities. The X7 is the one you’d want to travel in the back of for longer and the XB7 will be too.
Considering that the ALPINA XB7 wins in terms of practicality but the AMG GLS63 wins in terms of style, we’ll call the inside a wash.
So with the interior being tied but the ALPINA XB7 winning two of the three other categories, it’s the ALPINA that wins this comparison. The Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is a very cool car and one with a super-stylish interior but, overall, it’s the XB7 that looks better.