What is it?
It’s Alpina new range-topper, in effect a BMW 7-series with a bit of extra grunt, a lot more torque, a bespoke interior and some very natty 21-inch alloy wheels that are no longer wrapped around runflat tyres.
This car is the first chance Alpina has had to tweak BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 motor, hardly a weakling in its own right. But the revamp is a comprehensive one, even extending to different metals used in the block.
Alpina also remaps the ECU and adds a wide range of extra coolers - including four new ones behind the front valence alone - to keep the engine, intercoolers, hydraulics and transmission in check. There’s no word on the automatic gearbox’s specification, incidentally, but given the tweaked engine’s stats - 500bhp and 516lb ft - we’d be astonished if its internals were regular BMW kit.
The B7 weighs over two tonnes, so the brakes are uprated too; the spec is one often fitted to BMW’s ultra-heavy armoured vehicles.
What Alpina has really created is a rival for the Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, a car that BMW itself seems reluctant to build. Performance is staggering, with 0-62mph in a claimed 4.7sec and a top speed - restricted, mind - of 174mph.
What’s it like?
Rapid. Really frighteningly rapid. Okay, so there might be the teeniest delay if you nail the throttle at idle. But by, say 1500rpm, a huge surge of torque is already propelling you way past the UK legal limit and onto speeds that are only of use on autobahns. It feels every bit as quick as the hot Merc - more so, I’d say, given the huge shove offered by the twin turbos.
It’s still a big car, mind you, so don’t think that you’re going to chuck it around like it doesn’t weigh two tonnes. The B7 has four chassis set-ups, but the two extremes - comfort and sport plus - feel unduly wafty and uncomfortably tail-happy respectively.
The two middle set-ups are more effective, but while the B7 feels agile, it feels like a big agile car. Don’t expect 5-series levels of chuckability. The steering is also a little vague around the straight ahead, although it does weight up nicely when you’re pushing on.