2021 BMW Alpina XB7 first drive review: Doing more with more
The BMW X7 is still pretty fresh on the market, it only reached dealerships about 18 months ago, but it filled a void so evident in the company’s lineup that it feels like it’s been here forever. Sophisticated, slightly elegant and undeniably majestic, the X7 is a superb SUV. It is also, if I’m being honest, the only car where BMW’s increasingly swollen kidney grille works without a doubt.
The X7 is also reasonably fast, capable of bringing its 5,661-pound mass to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. You’d think it would be enough for anyone, but for those lucky few who always need more – and who have the means – there’s Alpina.
Meet the Alpina XB7, a large three-row SUV that adds a certain layer of excess to BMW’s somewhat understated car. Much of that starts with what’s under the hood, with the X7’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 getting a little more attention than it typically does at the factory. Horsepower ranges from 523 horsepower in the M50i all the way up to 612 in the XB7, while torque jumps from 553 pound-feet to 590. That oomph is balanced by additional airflow in the form of extra radiators and an enlarged transmission radiator, with The most of the heat is vented via a new sports exhaust.
That exhaust’s four chrome tailpipes sprout from a revised bumper, part of a series of subtle but effective visual changes that help keep the X7’s sizable silhouette closer to the ground. A 21-inch wheelset comes standard, while the 23-inch Alpina spec monsters you see in these photos are optional.
I don’t know about you, but while I love the way those huge rollers fill the look of the car, I cringe when I think about how they will handle the decidedly rural roads in upstate New York. I’m pleasantly surprised to report that the XB7 feels just as compliant as the regular X7, yet at the touch of the button the rig will drop 1.6 inches. In this Sport Plus mode the car isn’t exactly lively, but it is incredibly balanced; the Alpine flavor with the addition of bespoke shock absorbers, active anti-roll bars and additional frame reinforcements. All of this results in a much more responsive package than it really has a right to be.
As impressive as it is, the power delivery is even more impressive. No doubt the XB7 has massive power and is incredibly eager, but the throttle curve adjustment and the way the power is delivered make this SUV extraordinarily easy to drive smoothly. This is absolutely critical in any three-row machine, even one with more than 600hp, and it’s good news that this fundamental aspect is maintained here.
Digging just a little bit deeper into the throttle, though, and the big XB7 lifts forward competently without effort, as if a Category 5 hurricane is pushing it forward. Despite all the turbo hydraulics, throttle response is superb and sheer power is intoxicating, aided by a sports exhaust that is subtle but engaging in all ways BMW’s current offerings generally aren’t.
Inside, the interior sees a few choice upgrades, with open-pore wood on the dashboard now paired with an excess of crystal reflections on the gearbox and rotary controller, plus there’s no shortage of Alpina badges scattered throughout. Even your passengers in the back won’t have any doubts that you paid extra for it.
And how much will you pay? The BMW Alpina XB7 starts at $ 142,295 after $ 995 for the destination. The model you see here has a few upgrades to choose from – such as $ 1,950 for the Ametrin Metallic paint, $ 2,600 for the 23-inch wheels, and $ 3,400 for the Bowers & Wilkins sound system – for a total price of $ 156,345. By way of context, this is roughly double the cost of a base BMW X7 xDrive40i, with its meager 355 hp.
Whether or not that’s good math is entirely up to you and your budget but, ignoring that financial reward, the XB7 offers a remarkably cohesive set of upgrades applied to an already stellar SUV – one that didn’t seem to be missing in the first place.