The Alpina delivers its power in a more understated and buttery smooth manner.
The BMW 7-series is pretty high up there in the rankings of flagship sedans. In fact, the M760Li (reviewed here) is the only V12 sedan available for less than $200,000, because Mercedes-AMG’s S 65 is significantly more expensive. BMW makes “M” variants of many of their other vehicles, including the X5 and X6 crossovers, but stubbornly has refused to produce a real M7. This 2019 BMW Alpina B7 Exclusive Edition is the closest thing we Canadians can get at this time, and it really is a battleship of sorts.
With regards to the styling, the Alpina B7 is a 7-series that has been slightly massaged and offers paint, interior upholstery, and wheel options unavailable elsewhere in the standard BMW lineup. The plaque inside our B7 tester indicates that it’s one of just seven produced this year in this Frozen Grey paint scheme. It’s a real looker, but on multiple occasions we received comments that a car bearing the name of the bespoke company needs to be painted in Alpina Blue like the model we tested just over a year ago (reviewed here).
Not only was our test vehicle painted Frozen Grey, this Exclusive Edition model includes deep black 21” Alpina Classic wheels, embossed headrests with the Alpina logo, and BMW’s Full Merino leather in black. Contrast stitching on the leather and piano black wood are found throughout the rest of the interior, and it feels notably more premium and luxurious than the standard 750Li (reviewed here). Materials everywhere are just top-notch and unsightly panel gaps are virtually nonexistent, meeting all expectations for a $200,000 sedan.
This model is based on the long-wheelbase 7-series and while the model tested here did not have the luscious Executive Lounge package for the rear seats, but that doesn’t mean passengers aren’t in for a treat. The outboard rear seats are adjustable, there are two screens mounted to the rear of the front seats, and a Samsung Galaxy tablet mounted in the rear center armrest allows configuration of audio, sun protection (roof and side window shades), ventilation, heat, and massage settings.
This model is powered by a hand-built variant of BMW’s N63 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8. It also offers direct injection, Valvetronic, and a 10:1 compression ratio. As such, it puts out 600 horsepower between 5,750 and 6,250RPM, and 590 lb-ft. of torque at 3,000RPM. BMW Canada claims a sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds, which is on par with the latest M5 (reviewed here). It’s a wholly different animal than the brute force of the M5 offers, and from my point of view, a far superior car. Building on the standard N63, the B7’s unique parts include a freer flowing intake, stainless steel exhaust, new intercooler, turbochargers, and more.
The best way to describe the B7’s power delivery is effortlessly imperceptible with a real surge of power. ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission does an excellent job sending power to all four wheels, and the creamy smoothness of the car is conveyed right to the driver’s fingertips. The paddle shifters from the standard 7 have been replaced with small buttons behind the steering wheel, an indication to let the car conduct its business without much intervention. This is a seriously fast battleship, but doesn’t compromise for a single second in the comfort department. Oh yes, the exhaust system uses active valves to make for a discernable rumble in most settings without interrupting the quietness of the B7’s cabin.
There is an active adaptive damping system built into the four-corner air suspension, too. It has Sport, Sport Plus, Comfort, and Comfort Plus settings. The suspension has 40mm of ride height adjustment and ensures maximum comfort and isolation on demand. The suspension firms up in the sportier settings but still offers no real communication from the road. I know, this is a lot to ask for from a flagship luxo-barge, so I digress.
With regards to handling, the B7 is outstandingly capable (for its size). The steering is electrically assisted, but has some weight to it. Like most of BMW’s current lineup, there is little in the way of on-center feel, but once you get past that initial dead zone, turn-in is quick and the long-wheelbase flagship jumps into a corner like it’s nobody’s business. The xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard, and unlike other slip-and-grip setups, xDrive is always on and ready. When the settings are optimal for the conditions, the Alpina B7 eagerly will oversteer on demand. A standard set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires help grip around hard cornering.
The Alpina B7 requires 91-octane fuel as a minimum requirement, but recommends 93-octane or higher for optimal performance. Our test took place on 91-octane, and we observed 13.2L/100km over roughly 800km of combined driving. Trips that consisted of strictly highway driving effortlessly delivered below 10L/100km, but that’s about the best buyers can expect. Again, this is a car where comfort is the highest priority, not efficiency. Those wanting a greener 7-series have the option of the hybrid 740Le (reviewed here) with its plug-in capabilities.
Plenty of phenomenal technology is on board the 7-series, and it’s all based around the latest iteration of BMW’s excellent iDrive infotainment system. The four-zone climate control can be made to subtly let out configurable scents when asked, which is noticeable and, well, lovely. The iDrive infotainment screen is now a touchscreen as well, and BMW’s “Gesture Control” means you can point to the screen in certain (configurable) ways and control volume, music track, and answer/end calls in the slickest manner possible. Note: this will impress passengers and while it seems like a gimmick, it actually works very well.
The Alpina B7 Exclusive Edition only comes one way, and that means it’s absolutely loaded with everything you would want in a flagship. Highlights not already mentioned include the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond sound system, Alcantara headliner, Display Key with remote parking, Alpina embossing throughout the interior, and BMW Touch Command. The sticker on this model is $193,000 Canadian, with no additional options available.
When comparing the Alpina B7 to the M760Li, the Alpina delivers its power in a more understated and buttery smooth manner. It also lacks the M Performance tuning for the suspension and steering, and is far more tailored towards the business executive that prefers luxury in every aspect. The vast majority of flagship shoppers will be more than satisfied with a well-optioned 750Li, but for those who really crave that extra uniqueness, Alpina has the car for you. When comparing V8 flagships, the 2019 BMW Alpina B7 Exclusive Edition’s refinement is still a notch below the supple perfection of the S-Class (reviewed here), but that gap is shrinking rapidly.