Usually, giving a vehicle tons of extra horsepower, brakes powerful enough to stop a train, and huge, sticky tires is a recipe for success. And to be fair, the Alpina XB7 is pretty amazing for what it is. During our recent Performance Vehicle of the Year competition, judges were shocked by what Alpina achieved tuning the big SUV.
To assess that achievement, you can read Jonny Lieberman’s full story for yourself, but here are the highlights and what they mean in the context of the BMW X7 40i we’re putting through a yearlong test: Alpina modified the X7 M50i’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 to produce 612 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque (compared to our car’s 335-hp, 330-lb-ft I-6). That’s enough power to allow the behemoth BMW to zip to 60 mph in a scant 4.0 seconds and cross the quarter mile in just 12.4 seconds at 114 mph (1.6 seconds and 1.8 seconds/17 mph ahead of our long-termer). The Alpina also wears 23-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires and massive brakes, which bring it to a stop from 60 mph in just 100 feet—yes, you read that correctly. That’s 2 feet shorter than an M3 Comp and 10 shorter than our X7.
Better than our base-engine X7 40i? Not really.
Let me be clear about what I mean. Comparing the XB7 to the X7 40i by the numbers, the Alpina is the clear winner in every category. It’s quicker and faster, it stops sooner, and it’s slightly more luxurious. The story from the driver’s seat is unfortunately different. My biggest complaint about our X7 dynamically is the lack of body control, and Alpina did not fix this problem.
Oh, and did I mention our X7 is nearly $60,000 less expensive? A new BMW M3 starts around $70,000, which means for the price of the Alpina you could almost buy our nicely equipped and luxurious X7 as your daily driver plus a dedicated canyon carver with an M badge. And in case it matters to you in an SUV pushing six figures, the X7 also gets better gas mileage.
I’m not ignorant; I know potential XB7 buyers aren’t cross-shopping two-car solutions that include base-model X7s. The Alpina is the biggest, baddest three-row BMW, and most potential buyers likely already have a dedicated sports car. The XB7 looks awesome and, like every Alpina product, will set you apart from the other X7s and AMGs of the world. But for comparative purposes, the XB7 isn’t really any better at being an X7 than our long-termer is. At the end of the day, the X7 is meant to coddle its occupants, and we’ve spent more than enough time in our X7 40i to know it does so just as well as the Alpina for a lot less.
Looks good! More details?