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. The Alpina B7 is based on the regular-length 750i. The V-12-powered 760Li comes only in the extended length, based on the 750Li.
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. According to their respective automakers, the S8 does the same run in 4.9 seconds and the S63 AMG takes 4.5 seconds. Why BMW entrusted Alpina with this project rather than build its own M version, such as the M3 and M5, is a mystery.
Alpina says it will build as many B7s as are requested, but buyers need to special-order the car through BMW.
In contrast with the treatment BMW's M cars get, the B7 isn't dramatically distinguished from the 7 Series on which it's based. Changes include revised bumpers and glossy Shadowline trim around the windows. The trunk has 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 larger 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
Today's 750i and its 4.8-liter engine were not around when development began on the B7, so its engine is a supercharged version of the 4.4-liter V-8 from the earlier 745i. (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 at 5,500 rpm and 516 pounds-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm, 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.