Tired of your neighbors boasting that their hot-rod European sedan can beat your BMW 7 Series? Get in line for the Alpina B7, a version of BMW's flagship that gives the Audi S8 and Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG something to chew on. German tuner Alpina has had its way with many cars in BMW's lineup, but the only other one to hit U.S. shores — officially, anyway — was the Roadster V8, a modified version of BMW's Z8 sports car.
For the 7 Series, Alpina offers a supercharged V-8 delivering 500 horsepower to the rear wheels, enough to hustle the full-size B7 from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. How does that compare? According to their respective automakers, the S8 does the same run in 4.9 seconds and the S63 AMG takes 4.5 seconds.
The B7 went on sale at the beginning of 2007. Alpina says it will build as many as requested, but buyers need to special-order the car through BMW. Delivery takes about four months.
In contrast with the treatment some of BMW's M cars get, Alpina dressed the B7 to look a lot like the 7 Series it's based on. Changes include revised bumpers and glossy Shadowline trim around the windows. The trunk holds a spoiler, which sticks out a few inches beyond the deck lid. Twenty-spoke, 21-inch wheels display massive 14.7-inch front brakes, which are an inch bigger than those on the 750i.
In addition to the host of standard equipment in the 750i, the B7 adds heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, an Alcantara leather headliner and sunshades for rear passengers. If the doors aren't closed all the way, a soft-closing feature pulls them the rest of the way shut. Audio hardware includes a 13-speaker stereo with a six-CD changer.
Alpina exclusives include a new instrument cluster with a 200-mph speedometer, a blue background and red pointers. The steering wheel has green stitching and Alpina's shield logo in place of the BMW emblem.
Under the Hood
Alpina put the 745i's 4.4-liter V-8 in the B7, as today's 750i and its 4.8-liter engine were not around when development began, and the 760Li's V-12 was deemed too heavy for a sporty offshoot. Modifications to the 745i's engine include a supercharger, a strengthened crankshaft, new pistons and fuel injectors, and a new exhaust system. Total output is 500 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque, a considerable increase over the 325-hp 745i — not to mention the 360-hp 750i and 438-hp 760i. Alpina says the B7 can reach a top speed of 186 mph, and it earns a respectable 23 mpg on the highway.
A six-speed automatic transmission includes shift buttons on the steering wheel for manual control.
Eight airbags are standard, including front knee airbags, side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags for both rows. Side-impact airbags for the backseat are optional. Four-wheel-disc brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system are standard.