Alpina has always been an exclusive brand for those with as much wealth as taste. After decades of cranking out hot rod BMW cars for the road, they’ve turned their attention to the X7 SUV in order to deliver the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7.
Exterior tweaks on Alpinas have always been subtle. A lip spoiler here, an art-deco stripe kit there, an iconic set of big turbine-spoke alloys and boom, just enough to catch the eye of connoisseurs without drawing too much attention from the general public. The familiar styling changes continue on the XB7 with a re-shaped front bumper, a deep front lip spoiler featuring the Alpina text, some low-key sideskirts and a monochrome rear valence featuring a quartet of oval exhaust tips. Rolling stock comes in the form of massive 23-inch forged alloy wheels with smaller 21-inch alloys available.
On the inside, the little changes continue. An Alpina-specific steering wheel wrapped in ultra-soft Lavalina leather dominates the cockpit while bespoke Alpina-engraved crystal glass iDrive controller, Alpina logo door sills, a special gauge cluster, available Alpina-specific dash trim and a unique plaque in the centre console remind drivers that they’re piloting something very special. The rest of the interior is standard top-spec X7, which means it’s a lovely place to be. Leather and aluminum abound and the front seats come standard with a massage function. BMW’s SkyLounge light-up panoramic roof is also available, great for fans of starlit skies.
Underneath the shiny exterior of the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 are where the big upgrades have been made. The 4.4-litre twin-turbo N63B44T3 V8 has been reworked with special intercoolers, two additional coolant heat exchangers, an enlarged transmission cooler and an Alpina-specific active exhaust system to produce 612 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque. If our maths are correct, this makes the XB7 the most powerful production three-row SUV in the world. The 0-100 km/h dash is dispatched with in a scant 4.2 seconds, the quarter mile in just 12.6 seconds and, with enough open autobahn, the XB7 will rocket up to a top speed of 290 km/h with the right wheel and tire package. Heady stuff. The ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic transmission has been retuned for faster and smoother shifts and the electronically-variable limited-slip differential is said to have a locking torque of up to 1,475 lb.-ft. To keep the big Bavarian on the ground, the air suspension has also been thoroughly retuned. In Sport mode or at speeds above 160 km/h, it automatically lowers 20mm for a lower centre of gravity and reduced drag. Select Sport Plus mode or smash through the 250 km/h barrier and it hunkers down an additional 20mm. Wicked. Four-wheel steering also comes equipped standard, with active roll stabilization available as an option.
For those who yawn in the Mercedes-Maybach GLS 600’s general direction, the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 should feel like an intravenous shot of Red Bull. Pricing starts at $165,900 in Canada and those looking to reserve their ultimate X7 may want to move fast as BMW tends to only bring a handful of Alpina cars to Canada every year.