As long as ALPINA models exist, there will be debate about whether or not they’re actually better than the standard BMWs on which they’re based. Typically, that question has an easy answer — “yes”. However with the new ALPINA XB7 and the BMW X7 M50i, that answer might not be so clear cut. The X7 M50i is already a seriously good performance SUV and the ALPINA XB7 might be the least upgraded ALPINA product we’ve seen in awhile. Though, we haven’t driven the new XB7 so we can only compare their style. Let’s dig in.

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Up front, they’re extremely similar cars. The biggest differences lie in the front air intakes and the kidney grille trim. The BMW X7 M50i looks sportier, with darker grille trim and larger front air intakes. While the ALPINA XB7 is more elegant looks, with more subtle front air intakes, chrome grille trim and a tasteful “ALPINA” badge at the front. This is a wash, as personal taste between sporty and classy looks will determine which is better looking.

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In profile, the two cars are obviously extremely similar but the ALPINA XB7 has one distinct advantage — wheels. The XB7 has ALPINA’s classic wheel design, which looks gorgeous. What’s new for the XB7 is the 23-inch anthracite-finished wheels, which look the business. Those wheels alone make it better looking than the M50i, though the latter isn’t bad looking.

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The ALPINA takes the win out back, too. They’re essentially the same car from behind but the ALPINA XB7 gets those sexy quad exhausts, while the X7 M50i makes do with two little rectangles. So that’s an easy win for the ALPINA.

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On the inside, it really just comes down to which steering wheel you prefer. They’re both so similar on the inside that the rest makes little difference. The ALPINA XB7 uses a standard BMW X7 steering wheel and trims it in beautiful Lavalina leather and blue and green stitching. While the X7 M50i gets the typical M Sport steering wheel, which looks great but won’t feel as nice in the hand as the ALPINAs. Also, the XB7 gets ALPINA-colored gauge graphics. Personally, I’d go for the ALPINA XB7, just for the leather. But choosing the M50i for its sportier looking wheel is understandable.

In the end, the answer is pretty obvious — the XB7 is the cooler car. It’s sleeker, sexier and more unique. Sure, it’s not as sporty as the BMW X7 M50i but it has more style and more character, which sets it apart from every other premium BMW. The X7 M50i is cool but the ALPINA XB7 is cooler.