So I walk out my door this morning and to what do I find looking back at me? A2007 Alpina B7 - black with a black interior. So first thing runs through my head is that there are what 100 or so of these that have actually been made so far? The second thing I think is that this giant sedan will flat out molest anything else within a given radius from where I stand. The exhaust note is subdued but has a nice burble, the wheels are gigantic but not obnoxious, (as with the spoiler) it costs less than its competitors and provides better numbers and sure is more rare. I can imagine the torque smashing me back into the seat as the speedometer climbs. Then it happens - the light up ahead went green and the car in front turns right and Alpina disappears in an abbreviated rumble as quickly as it had come.
Yes, yes it is "just a 7 Series", but it is not. It is the reason for Pebble Beach and outrageous prices at classic/exotic auctions - it is a rare hand tinkered toy that takes a car already out of most individuals hands and makes it a treasure. Something that one day will be at show and questioned and swooned. A GT500 in its own time. Oh and it is in the US - an Alpina rarity. I copied over a recent C&D write up below with some hard numbers.
In the company’s words, Alpina “builds fine automobiles for the connoisseur.” These are big-torque BMWs with automatic transmissions, more of a luxury bent than BMW’s own high-performance M cars.
The first thing one of these connoisseurs might notice on the Alpina B7—it amounts to a hot-rodded 7-series—are the mammoth, concept-car-worthy 21-inch, 20-spoke BBS wheels. That’s because they are simply spectacular to behold. And that’s before they start moving; then the spokes blend together in an envy-inducing blur. Splendid.
However, within an hour of the B7’s arrival, one of our connoisseurs punctured one of the ultra-low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires. It cost us $500. Phew, good thing he didn’t damage one of the zoomy wheels—they’re $4200 each! A telltale ring of grime in the trunk was a sign that we weren’t the first to use the beautiful 18-inch matching spare in our B7’s brief, 1700-mile life.
Why the B7? BMW acknowledges there’s room for a super 7-series but not a high-revving, hard-core M version. And the company concedes that the short-wheelbase, V-12–powered 760i that was the sporty choice from 2004 to 2006 wasn’t enough in light of the torque-crazy supercharged V-8 or twin-turbo V-12 available at the time in Mercedes’ S-class.
Meet Alpina, a German company whose history with BMW goes back 46 years but is little known in the U.S., as the B7 is only the second model officially brought to our shores. The first, about four years ago, was the Alpina Roadster V-8, essentially a version of the Z8 roadster with an automatic transmission. All 450 bound for North America found owners.
Alpina’s partnership with BMW—B7s roll off the assembly line in Dingolfing, Germany, with standard 7s—separates it from other BMW tuners, and that is particularly helpful when tweaking hugely complex 7-series electronics to deal with a supercharger.
The B7 imported here is based on the short-wheelbase 750i, but since Alpina started development back when the 7-series—the 745i—was powered by a 325-hp, 4.4-liter V-8, that’s the basis for the B7. To handle the 11.6 psi of intercooled boost whipped up by the centrifugal *supercharger, the engine gets lower-compression-ratio pistons as well as a *stronger crankshaft and connecting rods. The result is a mighty 500 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful 7-series—wait, it’s the most *potent BMW—on offer.
A centrifugal supercharger doesn’t make big boost at low rpm, and in fact, a half-throttle launch in the B7 feels much like the power delivery of a turbo, with a surge appearing around 2500 rpm. That means the B7’s sticky Michelins are never overwhelmed, which adds to the B7’s deceptively quick mystique. Sixty mph arrives in 4.4 seconds—a full second quicker than the 750i, and the gap widens from there—as the cabin fills with a subdued bellow from the V-8. Wind roar isn’t really noticeable until—Whoa! Does that say 100 mph? And the supercharger never makes a peep.
How’s this for thrust? The B7 ties the Audi R8, which is 1100 pounds lighter, at 12.8 seconds through the quarter-mile, at which point the gargantuan Alpina starts pulling away. The 551-hp Bentley Flying Spur can’t keep up, and Audi’s 450-hp S8 is so much slower it’s hardly worth mentioning. To 60 mph and through the quarter, the B7 is within 0.2 second of the 510-hp, twin-turbo V-12 Mercedes S600, which means the Alpina will likely outrun the less torquey, naturally aspirated 518-hp 2008 Mercedes S63 AMG.
But the B7’s immense capabilities go beyond its mondo acceleration, hauling its 4684 pounds around the skidpad at a planted 0.91 g. Mauling the throttle, however, can convince the rear tires to break loose, and the B7 will indulge your drifting fantasies until you tire of painting jet-black arcs on the pavement (we had to try). Brake-pedal feel is excellent, and the one-inch-larger brakes (from the Euro-spec 760i) resisted fading despite repeated 150-mph stops, although stopping distances didn’t improve significantly.
The ride is unexpectedly compliant considering those huge wheels, but there is an element of trust needed to push the B7’s limits, as heavy steering and a general sense of isolation make it less involving than we might like, not instantly syncing the driver to the car’s capabilities as does a Porsche Boxster. Somehow, the B7 numbs your senses—well, you are sitting in a supremely comfortable 20-way-adjustable seat—into thinking you’re traveling about 20 mph slower than you actually are, which makes staying below triple-digit speeds a constant struggle, even with a sluggish throttle that needs to be booted to get results. That said, competitors such as the S-class have a long way to go to be this communicative.
Think the aggressive bodywork—extended front and rear fascias and a rear spoiler that extends from the trunk—looks a bit juvenile on a car like this? Know that Alpina is confident enough in its aerodynamics to remove the speed limiter, allowing a claimed 186-mph top speed that we didn’t have the facility to verify.
Ah, yes, the price. The B7 starts at $117,075, some $40,500 more than a 750i but $8,000 less than a 760Li and not out of line with competitors such as the upcoming S63 AMG, which we expect to go for $125,000. Of course, the B7 gets BMW’s four-year/50,000-mile warranty with all service included—wonder what that’s worth on a car like this.
In Europe, Alpina offers a full lineup of modified BMWs in addition to the B7, including the B3—a higher-output, 360-hp 335i—as well as 5- and 6-series cars (B5 and B6) with the B7’s powertrain. We think the B5 and B6 could find a following here as they have just as much horsepower as the M5 and M6, a bunch more torque (516 pound-feet versus 383), an easy-to-live-with automatic, a 30-percent-better fuel-economy rating, and perhaps even more performance. In fact, in a test by the British mag Autocar, a B6 outperformed an M6 to 60 mph, to 100 mph, and from 0 to 100 and back. So it’s not surprising that BMW has no plans to bring either of those two potential M spoilers—or any other Alpinas, for that matter—to the U.S.
For now, we get to enjoy the B7, of which BMW plans to sell about 1000 copies total, roughly 200 in the first year. Warning to Corvette drivers: You will not be able to ditch the 68 7-series connoisseurs who are already on the loose.
More pics from BMWM5 - http://www.bmwm5.com/articles.php?id=20&page=3