Weekend Wheels: BMW's Alpina B7 is a luxury rocketship
Google the teeny town of Buchloe in Germany’s Bavaria region and you’ll get slim pickings for search results.
It has a population of just 13,000. The Gasthof Eichel is the only B&B in town. And for fine dining you’re pretty much limited to the Hong Kong Garten. I heard the crispy duck with sauerkraut is divine.
Don’t believe me? Head to TripAdvisor and hit the ‘Things To Do In Buchloe’ tab and it actually comes up blank.
But to automobile lovers with a passion for BMW, a trip to Buchloe is the equivalent of a pilgrimage to Mecca. For there on Alpenstrasse just out of town is the headquarters of Alpina Burkhard Bovensiepen GmbH — Alpina, for short.
For the past 50 years, this teeny, family-owned business has been cranking out some of the most coveted performance BMWs ever built.
Cars like this exquisite $142,800 BMW Alpina B7 I’ve been piloting. Here is a 600-horsepower intercontinental ballistic missile of a four-door supercar that’s the fastest production BMW money can buy. How fast? Flat out it can top 205mph.
And this is not some one-off offering from a back-street custom shop. While the B7 has been developed by Alpina, BMW builds it, it comes with a full BMW warranty and, here in the U.S., it’s sold exclusively by BMW dealers.
What the B7 offers is the most exclusive, most bespoke, most exquisite new BMW money can buy. Fewer than 400 Alpinas are sold in the U.S. a year, making them rarer and more exclusive than any Bentley.
The car is based closely on BMW’s latest flagship 7 Series. Yes, the one with the super-sized kidney grille. Alpina takes the stretched 750i model and performs its Merlin-like wizardry on pretty much every mechanical component — honing and uprating, enhancing and upgrading.
The result is nothing short of spectacular. The stock 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 gets uprated to a magical 600-hp and 590 lb-ft. The 8-speed automatic is optimized for the new engine’s muscley low-end torque. The turbos blow harder, the new exhaust breathes deeper, the all-wheel drive system directs more power to the rear for more agile handling.
It also gets the discreet yet head-turning Alpina “look.” That set of trademark, thin-spoke 20-inch Alpina alloys, the deeper front spoiler, flared side sills, rear lip spoiler, and new lower diffuser accommodating a quartet of tailpipes. Changes designed to keep the B7 stuck to the asphalt at 205mph.
Inside, it’s BMW quality and craftsmanship taken up a notch. The buttery Nappa leather gets special stitching, there’s unique reddish Myrtle veneer on the dash and doors, a gorgeous thick-rim Alpina wheel to grip, and lots of subtle Alpina badges and illuminated tread plates.
But the B7 is all about the driving. And here is the justification for investing a non-trivial $40,150 in stepping way-up from 750i to Alpina B7. In truth, there’s simply no comparison. The comparison should be with the mighty V12-engined 760i, at $157,700. But here the B7 is much more the Ultimate Driving Machine than the 760i will ever be.
Click the stopwatch and the B7 can lunge off the line and hit 60mph in an insane 3.5 seconds. That’s supercar fast. And the acceleration is even more mind-warping when you pull out to pass and summon up all 600 horseys. All this with a car that tips the scales at 4,800 pounds and looks like a stretched limo.
The B7’s true magic, however, comes to the fore when you face that twisty back road. The poise and balance of the handling, the precision of the steering, the suppleness of the ride. Just wonderful.
Of course the B7 isn’t for everyone. A flagship V12 760i xDrive is a formidable alternative. A stock 750i won’t disappoint either.
But if you’re looking for exclusivity, to stand out from the crowd, and love the pure joy of driving a technical masterpiece, this bullet from Buchloe is hard to resist.
Test drive the 2020 BMW Alpina B7 at Reeves BMW Tampa, Ferman BMW Palm Harbor, Bert Smith BMW St. Petersburg, or Fields BMW Lakeland.