Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 1, 2018
There’s a 7 Series for every kind of executive really. V8 muscle for the rich, V12 power for the excessively rich, and even a plug-in hybrid for the excessively frugal. But I firmly believe that the Alpina B7 stands above them all, and meshes every conceivable hedonistic quality you could imagine into a fine four-door vessel.
For those uninitiated to the Alpina brand, don’t fret. They’re not too well known in Canada. In fact, they only export two models, the B6 and B7, and around 400 total vehicles into North America annually. Alpina is an automotive manufacturing company based out of Bavaria that takes a stock BMW and modifies it with a variety of hand finished tweaks and upgrades, similar to what BMW’s in-house M Division does to their M cars. Alpinas however have a heavier emphasis on torque, automatic transmissions, and coveted luxury interiors. It also comes with a full BMW warranty.
You can read my full review of the Alpina B6 and B7 here, but standing before me clad in Frozen Grey is this 2019 BMW Alpina B7 Exclusive Edition, a special edition model made only for Canada to celebrate 21 years of partnership, and it’s actually the most expensive BMW you can currently buy at $193,000. There will only be 21 of these unique models available, in three sets of seven, each set draped in three paint colours: Frozen Black, Frozen Grey, and Black Sapphire Metallic. This Exclusive Edition simply adds black chrome to the exterior elements including the kidney grills, exhaust tips, model badging, and iconic 21-inch classic Alpina wheels - my heart skips a beat when it sees the latter, possibly my favourite set of wheels in existence.
The interior adopts very minor additions including "Alpina Exclusive" designation badges, embossed headrests, and dark grey stitching on the steering wheel and floor mats. The B7 comes in long wheelbase form only, meaning limousine-like rear accommodations are standard including massaging seats and a detachable Samsung tablet that can be used to control the lighting, seats, window shades, and the cabin temperature. Newcomers can spend hours in this vehicle and not even manage to scratch the surface in terms of capability and functionality, let alone struggle to stay awake on these contoured seats complete with headrest pillows and heated armrests.
The powertrain remains the same with the B7. Alpina takes a stock 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 sourced from the 750Li and upgrades its internals. That means a revised intake and intercooling system, upgraded turbochargers to accommodate an explosive 20.0 psi, and new pistons and spark plugs. Total output, if you must ask, is a bewildering 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, and rockets the B7 from 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, quicker than the Cadillac CTS-V and even the Porsche Panamera Turbo.
Out on the open road, the B7 delivers a relentless amount of torque, enough to make you dizzy struggle to maintain driver focus as the trees blur in your peripherals. You really don’t need more power, and anyone saying otherwise just wants the bragging rights. But there is the slightest amount of disconnect between hammering the accelerator and actual forward propulsion. One quarter of that lag comes down to the 8-speed ZF transmission kicking it down a few cogs, and the rest of it is because maximum thrust requires a bit of warm up, and juices out 494 lb-ft at the 2,000 rpm mark and all 590 lb-ft at 3,000 rpm. We experienced a similar thing with the 750i’s standard V8 powertrain.
This Alpina is still a heavy car whichever way you spin the facts, but the B7 does its best at keeping its weight in control. In Sport Plus mode, the body stays relatively flat but you do feel those lateral forces squeezing you into the seat bolsters ever so slightly. For such a heavy sedan, it warrants praise. But stick the B7 into Comfort mode, cruise along the motorway, and it becomes one of the softest and most supple executive sedans out there. I’m talking S-Class levels of suspension damping, and ever-so-nearly Bentley Continental GT levels of cabin insulation. On that note, the cabin is so well insulated that the exhaust note is rather muted. The V12 in the M760Li still provides a more dramatic and emotional soundtrack.
Though the Alpina B7 Exclusive Edition is purely an aesthetics package, it adds that desirable “blacked out look” to an already beautiful sedan. The B7 is in a class of its own in terms of exclusivity, and with only 21 of these available in Canada, I wouldn’t be surprised if all these luxury cruise missiles have already been accounted for. Alpina may not be a household name or have much of a cache in Canada, but apparently that’s just what some of these elite buyers desire. Those who know, know.
Model: 2019 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive Exclusive Edition
Paint Type: Frozen Grey
Base Price: $193,000
Price as Tested: $193,000
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,250 / 1,902 / 1,491
Curb weight (kg): 2,180
Engine: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 600 hp @ 5,750 - 6,250 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 3,000 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport