2017 BMW Alpina B7 first drive review: a better BMW Page 3


And yet the B7 does well in the corners, as demonstrated by its performance on the famously twisty and bumpy Carmel Valley Road. The active rear steering steers with the front wheels in tight turns, making the B7 corner like a smaller car, and the forgiving suspension handles uneven surfaces like a champ. I had driven a Ferrari 488GTB, a Lamborghini Huracan LP610-4 Spyder, and a Jaguar F-Type SVR on the same road over the previous few days and found the B7 the most fun simply because it can handle the corners without punishment from the suspension.

On the open roads and in between the tight corners, I nearly unleashed all of the Alpina’s stable of 600 horses. Power is effortless and intoxicating. It comes on immediately—but not jarringly—and keeps building. BMW says 0 to 60 mph takes just 3.6 seconds, almost a second quicker than the last B7, and that feels right to my backside.

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

Enlarge Photo
2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

Enlarge Photo
2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

Enlarge Photo

Track chops

The power is even more explosive when you can unleash the full beast out on a racetrack, and that’s just what we did when we took it out for a few laps on Laguna Seca. With BMW M2 and M4 lead cars setting the pace, the B7 didn’t work hard to keep up. At 4,800 pounds, this car may weigh a half ton more than those cars, but 225 extra horses mean it will lap this circuit quicker than those rather accomplished track weapons. We only reached speeds of around 120 mph, but the B7 will top out at 193 mph.

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While the power is a plus, the B7 is fighting against its weight and long wheelbase to carve corners when pushed as hard as possible. The Sport Plus mode lowers the car 0.8 inch to lower the center of gravity and the Michelins help it stick to the pavement, but all that inertia means you really have to get the car slowed down and under control to slice through a corner. Go in too hot, and it's going to push, no matter how much the active roll bars and rear steering help. All of the B7’s suspension hardware helps it handle better than it should, but there is only so much that can be done with 4,800 pounds and more than 16 feet of car to wrestle through a turn.

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

2017 BMW Alpina B7, 2016 Press Drive, Salinas, California

Enlarge Photo

Alpina says the brakes offer great street performance on par with carbon ceramic brakes but with higher levels of comfort. The claim about carbon ceramic performance may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the B7's big binders handled Laguna Seca without overheating, pulsing, or fading, and that’s saying something.

Final thoughts

The 2017 BMW Alpina B7 doesn't come cheap. It is priced at $137,995, almost $40,000 more than a 750i xDrive model. BMW says the premium for the B7 is about 20 percent over the cost of a comparable 7-Series. When you consider the additional standard equipment and the amazing job Alpina does turning a great car into an even better one, the sticker price starts to sound reasonable. BMW may never build an M7, but it doesn't need to. Alpina already has a comfortable and refined performance sedan. In this case, B is greater than M.


 
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