In Depth – 2011 BMW Alpina B7
Not many of you know that Alpina is not a tuning company, but an automobile manufacturer. Established in the 1970s, Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH (“Alpina”) has become world-wide known for their suspension upgrades, factory-quality power units as well as cosmetic upgrades, turning BMW models into high-performance street cars, even before BMW’s M Division got started.
The latest creation of the company is the F01 B7 BiTurbo, based on the 7-Series platform developed by BMW. The car is available with rear- or all-wheel drive as well as both in the standard and long wheelbase versions. Among the four configurations, the sportiest would have to be the rear-wheel drive short-wheelbase model, which is the Alpina Blue Metallic you see in these pictures.
All of the Alpina models come with a hand-crafted engine and this car is no exception to that rule. The 2011 BMW Alpina B7 features a heavily modified version of the N63 engine developed by BMW, which is the one that can be found in the 750i, a 4.4-liter V8 direct-injected unit that offers plenty of power, but not enough according to Alpina. While the normal N63 engine produces 400 hp and 450 pound-feet of torque, the one on the B7 churns 500 hp and offers a 516 pound-feet of torque. The engineers over at Alpina modified this engine by installing high-performance pistons as well as reinforcing the cylinder heads in order to withstand the additional effort due to the higher compression ratio. The car’s intercooler is now 35% larger and has been configured for lower intake temperatures. The car’s electric fan was also upgraded and now the airflow has increased through the freshly installed components.
In order to offer more airflow through the engine, Alpina installed larger turbochargers that have vanes measuring 44 mm in diameter. The engine management software has also been tweaked, the boost has been increased to 14.5 PSI and the traction and stability control have been configured for a more aggressive ride. The engine of the car is now linked to the Switch-Tronic transmission developed by Alpina, which is in fact a heavily modified ZF 6-speed automatic gearbox. The car now features small buttons covered in leather in the back of the steering wheel for manual selection of the gears.
The Alpina B7 comes with BMW’s Dynamic Damping Control as well as Active Roll Stabilization, like the other models from the 7-Series but the engineers tweaked it a little bit and the spring rates have been increased by 20% while the ride is now half an inch lower. The driver has the ability to select from one of the following three suspension settings: normal, comfort and sport.
To stop the car, the engineers installed massive brakes which are sourced from the 7 Series “Protection” models (the heavier armored), measuring 14.72 inches in the front and 14.57 inches in the back. The car rolls on Alpina’s 21-inch rims covered by 245/35ZR21 tires in the front and 285/30ZR21 in the back. According to the company, the weight of this model, the RWD SWB model is 4,564 pounds while the xDrive LWB has a curb weight of 4,861 pounds. Regardless of the variant, the weight distribution is 51.4:48.6.
Giving it an outside look, you will notice the twin double tailpipes along with the special front and rear lower spoilers. According to the company, the latter reduce lift by 30% at the front and 15% at the rear, improving stability during high speeds without affecting the drag coefficient.
Moving inside the cabin, the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 is equipped with sports seats that are covered in Alcantara leather, “Myrtle” wood trim, new instrument faces that have red needles over a blue background, a hand-stitched proprietary steering wheel, branded illuminated door sills and Alpina floor mats.
If you start the engine you will be surprised due to the muted idle but once you step on the gas, the massive 4.4-liter power engine comes to life and will rock your world. Although the B7 is a pretty heavy car, it is able to reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, quite impressive in our opinion. The long and bountiful collaboration between Alpina and BMW is very noticeable in the B7 as the suspension tuning of the car is borderline perfect, the directional changes are very fast and fluid, basically the car is everything you have hoped for, except maybe for the shift buttons, located behind the steering wheel, which are quite uncomfortable.
The price tag of this 2011 BMW Alpina B7 is quite attractive, standing at $122,000 which is considerably lower than the 12-cylinder 760i model that starts from $137,000. Taking into consideration the fact that the E60 M5 has been discontinued and the F10 M5 is still a couple of months away, the B7 looks very interesting in our opinion. Of course, the car has a worthy rival – the Mercedes S63 AMG, priced from $138,000. The engineers at Mercedes decided to retire the naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter V8 that produced 507 hp and installed a 5.5-liter V8 twin-turbocharged that packs 536 ponies and offers 590 pound-feet of torque. These numbers go up to 563 hp and 664 pound-feet if you choose the Performance Package which will set you back $7,300. Although the Mercedes might be just as good, I for one love how the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 looks, both inside and out.
[youtube width="470" height="344"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjUO1bXiJK4[/youtube]
Alpina will be making approximately 1,000 units of their B7 model per year and less than half of them will be delivered to customers living in the United States.
Combining sporty performances with the most luxurious features you can find in a car nowadays, the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 offers the perfect blend between speed and comfort, a mix that not many cars are capable of. The car feels like it shaves off pounds once you start hitting that gas pedal, it is an amazing car to drive and although it is a sedan, it rides like a sports car, when you want it.
Post tags: Tags: 7 series, alpina b7, BMW