2011 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive

Matt Tierney

Many European tuners appear to think the secret to creating the perfect high-performance luxury sedan is to pack it full of power, wrap it in garish bodywork (bonus points for surfaces crafted with carbon fiber), and embellish it with an equally unattractive interior. Alpina's B7, thankfully, is a far different creature.

In typical Alpina fashion, the tweaks made to transform a 750Li into a B7 are subtle, to say the least. A new front air dam and side skirts give the large sedan a lower profile, and also reportedly help reduce lift at high speeds by 15-30 percent. 21-spoke wheels are also part of the visual package.

Overall, the B7's cabin doesn't look all that different from a standard 7-series, but you notice little touches like the illuminated door sills, the blue-tinted gauges, the nameplate on the headliner, accents on the front door panel trim, and the leather-wrapped steering wheel with blue and green accent stitching. All combine to convey the impression that this is something special.

That notion is confirmed behind the wheel. As my colleagues note, the B7 behaves like any other 750i model around town. Drop the hammer, however, and the beast comes alive. BMW suggests the B7 can sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, meaning you can find yourself reaching illegal speeds in no time. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 is tweaked to churn out a solid 500 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, nearly 100 hp and 66 lb-ft more than the stock engine. That certainly sounds hot -- which is why B7 models receive a number of tricks (including an extra radiator, larger intercoolers, and an external transmission oil cooler) to help keep things cool.

Alpina says its spring rates are roughly 20 percent stiffer than the standard car's, but you'll be hard pressed to feel the difference unless you dial up sport mode. Here, the active dampers help the car dance through corners as if it were half its size.

The B7 already faces a lot of equally expensive and powerful competition, so why buy an Alpina in lieu of an AMG or a custom-built model? Exclusivity is certainly one factor (only 1000 B7s will be built, and half are destined for the U.S.), but flexibility may be another. Alpina will build off either a short- or long-wheelbase 750i, and in either rear- or all-wheel-drive forms. Good luck trying to order 4Matic on a Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG...

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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