Alpina-tweaked 7-Series gains AWD, hits 330km/h
As far as obscure super-limousines go, the Alpina B7 sits right at the very top – even though we’re up to generation six of this BMW 7-Series-meets-tuner-nutter.
Just two have been sold in Australia so far though that shouldn’t limit the interest factor in this quietly unhinged Bavarian Bahnstormer.
It’s the left-field response to punters wanting an M-badged BMW 7-Series, without foisting the high-revving, hard-driving nature of a traditional BMW M car onto this stately sedan. Instead, BMW-affiliated tuning house – Alpina – gets to do the dirty work, the latest example of which is this uprated B7 xDrive.
Packing a modified version of BMW’s familiar 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, Alpina says the 2020-model-year B7 is good for 447kW from 5500-6500rpm and 800Nm from 2000-5000rpm (instead of 3000-5000rpm), as well as a slight improvement in its 0-97km/h acceleration time (now 3.5 seconds). Yet maximum speed has copped a serious hike – up from 312km/h to a pretty spectacular 330km/h.
As per the 7-Series it’s based on, the uprated B7’s kidney grille has expanded to a new level of vastness. It’s paired with new slimline headlights, a tough new front bumper with functional air intakes, and an Alpina-specific bodykit that includes a rear spoiler that reduces lift to almost zero.
Alpina’s trademark multi-spoke alloys measuring 20-inch are standard (or 21-inch optionally), clad with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres – 255/40ZR20 front, 295/35ZR20 rear – that thankfully forego the ride-destroying run-flat technology of other BMWs for the sake of comfort and steering feel.
Other changes include new laminated glass for the side and rear windows, not just the windscreen – now thicker at 5.1mm – and some tweaks to the B7’s incredibly sophisticated suspension.
As you’d imagine a 330km/h sedan should, the B7 boasts every dynamic trick imaginable. Air suspension with Dynamic Damper Control, Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview (which reads the road ahead and pre-empts surface changes by adjusting suspension rates) and Integral Active Sport Steering (which combines a variable-ratio rack with rear-axle steering) are all on the menu.
But it’s the xDrive all-wheel-drive system that’ll be the big new for our right-hand-drive market. The current B7 is rear-drive only for Australia, whereas the updated 2020 model (and 7-Series LCI) will finally introduce rear-biased all-wheel-drive traction to right-hook countries like ours.
Alpina expects US sales of the new B7 to begin in the third quarter of 2019, though the mega-sedan’s Australian arrival will be some time next year. Given the current car’s $369,720 list price, expect the uprated B7 xDrive to come in somewhere north of that.