The B7 is large, luxurious, four-door Sedan that just happens to be fast. We measured zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds and the top speed is 188 miles per hour.
As few BMW fans, you might have heard the name of Alpina and those figures don’t surprise you. But Alpina is really not that well-known in America. It is a German company that specializes in modifying BMWs for fifty years. The company got its start back in early 60s when BMW introduced the 1500, its first model in the car. A guy in Germany named Burkard Bovensiepen looked at the car and saw it had only one carburetor and he decided to put two and added 12 horsepower which was a fair chunk in those days in that car and this is how Alpina got its start. They have been modifying and racing BMWs for the fifty years since then.
Of late, Alpina has started distributing some of its cars to BMW dealerships in America. If this sounds a little bit like AM and GM Mercedes, you are not far off. But there is a difference. Mercedes and AMGs started collaborating in that way about 20 years ago and 10 years ago Mercedes bought AMG. So it is a wholly owned subsidiary. Alpina is still an independent company. They were close to BMW but they still have their own facilities and those facilities are really vast. So this is no backyard tuning operation. And since Alpina is based in Bouveria, not BMW’s headquarters, they know that their cars had to perform high speed because when they make a car to go faster, a German customer is gonna go out to buy and drive it fast. So the brakes, the tires and the suspension are all upgraded to match the additional horsepower.
The strongest characteristic of this car is performance. You floor the throttle and the car just shifts away and shoves you into the sea in blast off. Now at 140 mph, it will be taking no time at all. That is what 540 horsepower does even in a 5000 lb torque. You will never get tired of floating the throttle like that. If you do it 70 miles per hour, you climb up to 100 and it just keeps accelerating all the way until it hits180, which is this car’s top speed.
But there is a split personality to it. And that is you get that tremendous performance when you match the throttle to the floor.
The heart of any Alpina is the modified engine and under the hood of B7 we have basically the same 4.4 liter twin-turbo charged V-8. That powers a regular BMW 750. Except in this case the power is going up from 445 horsepower to 540 and the torque has gone up from 480 foot lb to 538. You might think of the turbo engine in any backyard tuning just cranking up to boost and do that. But Alpina has not done it the easy way because they want this engine to live. So they have increased the boost but have also added larger turbo-charged. They can efficiently run with low restriction run and greater amount of airflow into the engine. They have also upsized the inner cooler so that a greater airflow can be properly cooled and brought down the temperature. Internally they have put new pistons into the engine that are more durable and withstand high heat developed by the higher horsepower engine. And of course they have recalibrated the power training so that it makes this horsepower but still meets the emission standards in the United States and the rest of the world.
In order to make sure that the car lives with its elevated power level, Alpina has completely reworked the cooling system. In the centre (front side) , the main radiator pack is larger with a much bigger inner cooler that deal with a higher airflow in the engine. In its bottom, there is transmission oil cooler because the transmissions have got a harder work, especially when it has 540 horsepower. The two openings are the brake ducks to make the front brakes more effective and this whole lower assembly is designed to reduce lift from front axle. Alpina says it cuts by 75 percent.
In order to deal with the higher speed at the higher power it can produce, Alpina has completely reworked on B7: the shocks have been recalibrated; there are new springs which lower the car; and we have a new wheel entire package. These are 21’’ wheels, Michelin Pilot Sport tires. These 21 inch tires are the characteristics of Alpina design; they came up for racing some years ago. They are lighter than conventional wheels and are really pretty elaborate. Let me show you a trick: if you notice, there is no air valve around the periphery of this wheel. If you pull off the Alpina wheel cup at the centre and put the key in, you can pull off the cover and that is where you add the air. And to make this work, of course, this spoke has to be drilled and allowed to communicate with this area (rubber). So this is not an easy thing to do but it helps make the wheel lighter. It pulls this out of periphery and it does not intend to imbalance your car that much.
One of the easiest ways to distinguish the B7 from regular 7 series is this rear spoiler. It is not a pretty well spoiler but it also cuts rear lift by 75 percent and this is not a just random off the market spoiler; this is a device that Alpina designed, developed and tested in the BMW wind tunnel. So it works well.
Inside the BF7 is like the stock B7 regular 7 series, which means it is a very roomy and luxurious. But there are a few key details to distinguish the Alpina. First, there are B7 silver plates. We have an Alpina instrument cluster and we have a special Alpina steering wheel. It has its own leather rim; it has its parallel stitching that holds it all together so it is easier to glide your hands along the rim. And it has buttons on the back that let you do for manual control shifting when you want it.
This B series is available in four basic configurations: short wheel base; long wheel base; rear drive; and all wheel drive. The Alpina BF7 is also available in four versions. This one happens to be a long wheel base.
Now you might wonder why anyone needs a long wheel base version of what is already a pretty big car. But it actually has a feature: the luxury seat package that allows me to adjust the rear seat and really recline the seat too if I want to. And when I start doing that I certainly see a reason for an extra room. Because as I recline the seat the leg room starts going away and actually needs a little bit more space. So if you really want to be comfortable from the back seat of the car, get this seat package with a long wheel version.
One of the most important aspects of the many high-performance cars is steering feel. In this generation, 7 series have not been known for steering feel and I would say B7 is not a tremendous exception. However, the fact is that steering is very accurate; it is nicely weighed; in the great sense of feedback.
The brakes of this car are very powerful; they look to be stock calibrates, but they are grabbing very large voters and they have got lots of cooling airflow. I can’t imagine owners overpowering this easy brakeage.
Now one thing you might wonder about when you see those 21 inch tires, how do this car ride? The fact is the ride is firm; it is a high-performance car; it needs a lot of wheel control; speed is capable of achieving it; but by and large the track calibration are very good and the car does not beat you up.
But if the pavement is really broken, you will be going to notice that 21 inch wheel entire package. The tire is only 30 or 35 series, have not been very compliant, and broken pavement, the suspension is going to deliver a rattling feeling into the body.
Before you buy one of these cars you always have to take a test drive to make sure you can put up with that pavement in your area. Good handling has been an Alpina’s virtue for years and this car is no exception. It has 0.9 3G as a grip which is quite a big for a car like this. And it is very comfortable and a hard point.
But you will never lose side effects: this is a pretty big car and it is not the sort of machine that I feel very comfortable trying a side and get sideways. In particular this all wheel drive is not going sideways at all but you can go through corners very well.