First Look: 2011 BMW Alpina B7

The F01/F02 BMW 7 Series-based Alpina B7, which is making its North American debut at the 2010 Chicago show, is the latest offering from the Bavarian factory-supported BMW tuner (Alpinas are sold at BMW dealers and covered by BMW warranties) and is only the second B7 to be offered in the U.S.

Underhood, BMW's 4.4L, twin-turbo V-8 remains under the unique Alpina engine cover, but with new pistons, enlarged intercoolers, and a 14.5-psi max boost pressure, the mill produces 500-hp and 516 lb.-ft. of torque -- the latter comes on tap at 3000 rpm. For those keeping score, that's 115 hp per liter, and a worthy improvement over the 750i's 400 hp and 450 lb-ft. This newfound power, Alpina claims, will propel the rear-drive B7 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.

Yet acceleration plays but a bit part. In the handling department, angling for a neutral experience behind the wheel, Alpina has fitted shorter springs, dropping ride height by 0.6 inches front and 0.4 inches rear. The B7 also makes use of BMW's Dynamic Damping Control and Active Roll Stabilization, offering three setups: Comfort, Normal, and Sport. Each setting affects items like the suspension, power steering resistance, dampening, and throttle response. Throw the Alpina six-speed automatic into sport mode, and shifts take a "few hundred milliseconds" when commanded by buttons on the back of the steering wheel.

Alpina wraps Michelin PS2 tires, measuring 245/35 front and 285/30 rear, around its unique 21-in wheels. New front and rear splitters compliment the rolling stock, and Alpina claims reduce front lift 30% and rear by 15%. The revised fascia also integrates multiple engine and transmission coolers.

With the performance components set, Alpina turned to the interior, adding illuminated doorsills, hand-stitched leather to the steering wheel, and Myrtle Burl trim, which a wood unique to the B7 and the Pacific Coast. Piano Lacquer interior trim is optional. You'll find Alpina logos on the upper seatbacks, on the LCD cluster, and on a plaque mounted on the inner roof panel just ahead of the sunroof. The standard allotment of 7 Series exterior colors are available, as is Alpina's signature blue metallic.

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