Words: Calvin Chan
Published: May 20, 2020
The day has come, when Alpina has finally brought an SUV to our Canadian shores. This is the Alpina XB7, the closest thing we’ll probably ever see to a full-performance X7. No, XB7 doesn’t roll off the tongue easily but neither does RSQ8 or MP4-12C. BMW still sells an in-house X7 M50i, but that only produces power figures in the mid-500s. Alpina has done us all a favour and re-tuned the 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 with larger twin-scroll turbochargers, two additional water coolers, a larger transmission oil cooler, new intercoolers, and a new stainless steel exhaust system, for a grand output of 612 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. That’s enough to scoot you and six other passengers from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. The XB7 also receives the full gamut of driver tech, including rear wheel steering and a two-axle adaptive air suspension. With its new exhaust, the XB7 should sound the part as well, and should be similar to the Alpina B7 we drove late last year. You can listen to our Exhaust Notes clip of it here.
Aesthetically, the XB7 sets itself apart with a new body kit. That includes standard 23-inch wheels with the classic Alpina 20-spoke design (21-inch wheels are optional), larger front air intakes, front splitter with Alpina script, and twin tailpipes out back. Oh, and that gorgeous palette of Alpina Blue and Alpina Green. Inside you will find the typical Alpina garnish with Myrtle Wood panels, an Alpina badged steering wheel wrapped in blue and green stitching, and logos along the center console and rotary dial.
If the X7 M50i was any indication of how absurd yet effective a performance three-row SUV can be, we can only imagine how this more powerful Alpina will perform on the road. It’s a good move from BMW, as the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, Audi RSQ8, and Range Rover SVAutobiography have all been insanely popular with the masses. But I don’t see why BMW does not see a business case for an X7 M, as it’s competitors do. One interesting note: whereas Alpina would traditionally take a BMW vehicle straight off the factory floor and ship it to Buchloe for tuning, the XB7 will instead be built alongside the X7 in the Spartanburg factory in South Carolina. We asked BMW if they plan to invest more money and revamp part of the plant to configure Alpina-only vehicles, and they mentioned that a dedicated team of Alpina engineers will be on site for the XB7. You can see their full e-mail response below. Fingers crossed for more of these rarified German unicorns to hit our shores. B5 Touring, anyone? Check back on this space.
The 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 will carry an MSRP of $165,900 CAD, with first deliveries scheduled for September 2020. Full press release below.
"The all new BMW ALPINA XB7 is the fourth BMW ALPINA model to originate from BMW’s manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina in the United States.
- Previous models originating from there but not available in the USA included the ALPINA ROADSTER S, and ALPINA SAV models based on the BMW X3 and X4.
- In addition to incorporating primary ALPINA hardware such as powertrain, suspension, and other parts early in the production line, the BMW ALPINA XB7 receives bespoke ALPINA hand-finishing treatment inside the BMW Spartanburg Special Vehicle Operations unit, where a specialized team trained by the ALPINA manufactory staff from Germany apply white glove expertise in true ALPINA tradition. Each BMW ALPINA XB7 undergoes a final test and shake-down drive on the extended test circuit on plant Spartanburg property.
- Essentially, for USA and Canada bound vehicles the bespoke and traditional hands-on production which usually takes place at the ALPINA HQ in Buchloe, Germany, has been replicated in a specially implemented finishing infrastructure in Spartanburg. Vehicles destined for markets outside of the USA and Canada are finished at ALPINA in Germany.
Today, ALPINA is proud to introduce its first Sports Activity Vehicle for the Canadian market, the new BMW ALPINA XB7. Based on BMW’s X7 model line, the XB7 joins the B7 Sedan in ALPINA’s Canadian lineup this Fall. The power and torque produced by the performance ALPINA 4.4-liter V8 and the agility and handling capabilities of the ALPINA sport suspension place the XB7 firmly among the highest-performing Sports Activity Vehicles in the world.
Each detail of the new BMW ALPINA XB7 has been finely crafted to provide comfort and sensory delight. Three rows of seats generously accommodate six or seven occupants. Elegant ALPINA detail refinements, such as the iDrive Controller in crystal glass with laser-etched ALPINA logo, contribute to an exquisite interior ambiance. The exterior design emphasizes power and presence, while improving both appearance and aerodynamic properties such as reduced aerodynamic lift for maximum high-speed stability.
Warp-Speed Power: 4.4-Liter Bi-Turbocharged V8 Engine
A state of the art performance powertrain spawns the powerful and confident character of the new BMW ALPINA XB7, with linear and responsive power delivery across the entire engine speed range. The engine has been carefully calibrated to reflect the superior driving experience that has been signature to the most-powerful ALPINA models throughout the company’s 55-year history. The engines character is best described as early, torque-filled urgency followed by a surge of mid-range power and a hard charge to redline.
The 4.4-liter V8 engine with bi-turbo charging, gasoline direct injection, and BMW’s Valvetronic delivers an output of 612 hp @ 5,500 – 6,600 rpm and a maximum torque of 590 lb-ft which is available from an extraordinary 2000 rpm all the way to 5000 rpm. The BMW ALPINA XB7 needs just 4.2 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, and completes the ¼ mile sprint in just 12.6 seconds. Maximum speed is limited to 290 km/h when equipped with the optional 21 inch wheel and performance tire setup.
The engine’s power characteristics and superb throttle response are the result of detailed optimizations of the turbocharging and cooling systems. Two twin-scroll turbochargers with 53 mm turbines facilitate the near-instantaneous conversion of exhaust gas energy into boost pressure, even at low engine speeds for early maximum torque. The cooling system with two additional external water coolers, an enlarged transmission oil cooler and a low-temperature cooling system (air/water/air) with ALPINA’s specific intercoolers, ensure thermodynamic stability even under highest loads.
The all-new, stainless-steel ALPINA sport exhaust system is responsible for the BMW ALPINA XB7’s signature V8 sound. Designed to reduce back-pressure, the system is similar in construction and operation to that fitted to the 3rd-generation BMW ALPINA B7 Sedan also sold in Canada. Active exhaust system flaps allow the driver to influence the sound: restrained in COMFORT mode for best possible travel comfort or clearly pronounced in SPORT mode.
Smooth and Fast: Eight-Speed Sport Automatic and Active LSD Differential
The new BMW ALPINA XB7 features the latest generation 8-Speed Sport Automatic Transmission with the industry-original ALPINA SWITCH-TRONIC wheel-mounted shift buttons. In cooperation with the experts at ZF, the 8HP76 transmission has been specially designed to cope with the engine’s high torque. Offering unparalleled shift comfort and the capability to execute shifts in tenths of a second means power is delivered effortlessly and instantaneously at all times.
The high-performance transmission unit features an aluminum transmission oil sump located in the underbody where it is cooled effectively.
The complete redesign of the electronics and mechatronics in this new-generation transmission ensures precise operation and responsiveness. In SPORT and SPORT+ modes, shift points are optimized for driving performance and gear shifts are considerably more dynamic. The COMFORT and COMFORT+ mode allow for relaxed, luxurious cruising at low engine rpms even when travelling at highway speeds, taking advantage of the signature ALPINA torque responsiveness.
The BMW ALPINA XB7 drivetrain features an electronically-variable active limited slip differential on the rear axle, with a locking torque of up to 1475 lb-ft. This improves traction when driving dynamically by ensuring that slip-induced losses are minimized, and torque is distributed effectively to the wheel with the most grip at any given time. The degree of lock is continuously and actively adjusted depending on wheel speed, friction coefficients and steering angle among other things. The behavior of the active limited slip differential unit is specifically calibrated to suit the dynamic character of the BMW ALPINA XB7 and it operates in conjunction with the other driving dynamic systems.
A New Dimension in Driving Dynamics: ALPINA Sport Suspension and Kinematics
The BMW ALPINA XB7 is fitted with cutting-edge suspension technology, opening a new dimension in driving dynamics for the performance-luxury Sport Activity Vehicle segment.
The standard two-axle air suspension with ALPINA-specific damper and kinematic set-up are primarily responsible for the balance of driving dynamics and ride comfort. It allows for a remarkable and noticeable 20 mm change in ride height, depending on driving situation and Mode selection. At speeds below 30 km/h, the ride height can be raised by 20 mm for challenging ramp angles or other clearance requirements. More importantly, the BMW ALPINA XB7’s ride height can be lowered by 30 km/h, either dependent on speed or at the driver’s request, resulting in a substantially lower center of gravity. When selecting SPORT mode or at speeds above 160 km/h, the ride height is lowered by 20 mm. The ride height is lowered another 20 mm for a total of 40 mm beyond speeds of 250 km/h or when selecting SPORT+ mode. The resulting lower center of gravity and changes in suspension geometry, with associated increases in negative camber, have a significant positive effect on dynamic handling and road holding.
An ALPINA specific dome-bulkhead strut and reinforced torsion struts increase body rigidity. In addition, the electromechanical anti-roll bars of the Active Roll Stabilization system and stiffer rear axle bushings reduce body roll substantially.
Agility: All-Wheel Drive and Integral Active Steering
The BMW ALPINA XB7 all-wheel drive is based on the BMW intelligent xDrive system, which fully and variably distributes torque as required between the front and rear axles. The ALPINA specific adaptation of the torque distribution maximizes traction and neutral driving dynamics in all conditions.
The Integral Active Steering, standard on the new BMW ALPINA XB7, offers direct steering response with exceptional feedback and improves overall agility. The Active Kinematics Control System from ZF enables the wheels of the rear axle to pivot a maximum of 2.3° left or right. At low speeds, the rear axle steers opposed to the front axle for increased agility and dynamic handling. Conversely, at higher speeds the rear axle steers “with” (congruent to) the front axle for maximum directional stability. The driver can choose from three steering modes: COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+. While in COMFORT mode the focus is on smooth directional stability and safety at higher speeds while the SPORT mode aims to maximize responsiveness.
Excellent Road Holding with Maximum Grip: Wheels, Tires and Brakes
Specially-developed wheel and tire combinations underscore the powerful, elegant appearance of the BMW ALPINA XB7 and are instrumental in offering impressive levels of grip and road holding, especially for a vehicle of this size category.
The new BMW ALPINA XB7 rides, as standard, on all-new 23" forged-alloy wheels in the iconic ALPINA CLASSIC 20-spoke design and finished in Anthracite. Their high-strength, high-density construction as a result of forging allows a significant weight saving of 12.7 kg per vehicle. In collaboration with the experts at Pirelli, the performance summer tires for the 23" wheels have been explicitly developed and specified for the BMW ALPINA XB7. Measuring 285/35ZR23 at front and 325/3 ZR23 rear, they provide impressive grip and guaranteed visual presence around town.
Optionally, 21" ALPINA DYNAMIC wheels are available and can be specified with performance summer or all-season runflat tires, measuring 285/45R21 front and rear.
Four-piston fixed brake calipers from Brembo with brake discs of 394 mm diameter on the front axle and floating brake calipers with brake discs of 399 mm diameter on the rear axle offer excellent and consistent deceleration. Brake calipers are finished in ALPINA Blue and feature a white ALPINA logo.
The Best of Look, Touch and Feel: Design and Equipment
Expressive presence: each detail of the new BMW ALPINA XB7's design conveys dynamic luxury. The powerful appearance is accentuated by a modern design language, elegant details and precise contours that draw attention to its generous dimensions.
The front bumper with large air intakes and free-floating ALPINA lettering is aerodynamically optimized to reduce uplift for maximum high-speed stability. Large air intakes facilitate the effective flow of air to the performance ALPINA cooling system. At the rear the ALPINA sport exhaust system with two twin tailpipes is beautifully integrated into the design of the ALPINA rear bumper. The middle of the rear bumper is accentuated by small diffusor fins.
The generous interior features three rows of seats as standard. The second row either features a rear bench with three seats or – optionally – two comfortable individual captain’s chairs with integrated armrests. Depending on the seat configuration, the luggage compartment provides capacity ranging from 1476 to 2560 litres. For comfortable loading, the BMW ALPINA XB7 can be lowered by up to 51 mm at the push of a button that is located in the luggage compartment.
An extensive range of standard equipment including high-end Merino Leather, Multicontour Seats, Seat Heating, Soft-Close Doors, Alcantara Headlining and a Leather Instrument Panel ensure maximum comfort and a luxurious ambiance for driver and passengers. The standard three-part panoramic glass sunroof contributes to a light and airy atmosphere in the interior, which emphasizes the generous space. To enhance exclusivity even further, the optional Panorama Sky Lounge LED Roof, generates a very special aura when darkness falls, with LED light spreading evenly across the glass surfaces to illuminate more than 15,000 graphic patterns and generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky.
The interior’s distinguishing details and features which set it apart from the mainstream: exclusive 'Crafted Clarity' glass application and iDrive controller in ALPINA design, blue illuminated gear selector switch, ALPINA production plaque, illuminated ALPINA door sills and the unique ALPINA sport steering wheel hand-finished in finest LAVALINA leather and featuring trademark Blue/Green stitching. In addition to the ALPINA Myrtle Luxury Wood interior trim, two further ALPINA trim variants are optionally available: Piano lacquer and all-new Natural Walnut Anthracite. Each of the ALPINA wood trim variants features the ALPINA roundel logo.
The full-color 12.3 inch digital instrument display with ALPINA design features advanced configuration options, sport displays, and customizable views, and forms part of a large display combination with BMW’s traditional driver orientation. The cockpit design offers a convincing user experience, with intuitive operation via a high-resolution 12.3 inch touch display, direct selection buttons, or iDrive Controller, voice, or gesture control.
Full Suite of Standard Driver Assist Systems
The BMW Driving Assistant Professional included as standard offers a high degree of active safety with its comprehensive package of innovative assistance systems. The systems really come into their own when driving longer distances by relieving the strain on the driver in monotonous situations, such as traffic jams or slow-moving traffic. They enhance comfort and safety both in urban traffic and on longer trips by providing targeted assistance in complex traffic situations. The driver assistance systems process camera images as well as the data gathered by ultrasonic and radar sensors to monitor the vehicle’s surroundings, to warn of potential hazards and to minimize the risk of an accident with corrective braking or steering inputs.
The standard Active Driving Assistant on the new ALPINA XB7 includes Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Collision Warning, Frontal Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Collision Mitigation (which now also alerts the driver if cyclists are detected) Cross Traffic Alert Rear, and Speed Limit Information.
Also standard is Driving Assistant Professional, which offers comprehensive assistance for comfortable and safe driving and includes Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go function. It can be used at speeds up to 209 km/h and maintains the desired speed while taking not only the traffic situation into account, but also the selected distance to vehicles in front. If required, the system is able to brake the car to a stop then pull away again automatically after being stationary for up to 30 seconds, meaning greater comfort in stop-start traffic. Camera images and data from a front radar system are used for distance control.
Another component of Driving Assistant Professional is the Lane Keeping Assistant with Active Side Collision Protection. This system is designed to help the driver guide the vehicle back onto the correct path with an active turn of the steering wheel. Besides emitting visual warning signals and causing the steering wheel to vibrate, active side collision protection also uses active steering intervention to help avoid a collision. Moreover, Extended Traffic Jam Assistant for limited access highways, allows for even more relaxed driving at speeds lower than 60 km/h during highly congested highway traffic situations. Driving Assistant Professional Package also includes Evasion Aid, which now also reacts to pedestrians and Front Cross Traffic Alert – which reduces the danger of a collision when maneuvering forwards towards roads that are obstructed from the driver’s view.
Finally, Parking Assistant Professional, standard in the ALPINA XB7 enables automatic selection and use of parallel parking spaces. These parking spaces are detected by ultrasonic sensors as the vehicle passes them. The Parking Assistant function is activated at the touch of a button on the center console. The system then takes care of the acceleration, braking, steering and gear changes necessary to maneuver into the space.