The B7 Alpina is clearly for a tiny slice of the executive-sedan market that wants exclusivity and an extra measure of performance. The price is largely immaterial, I suspect, for this audience, who just don't want to drive the same 7-series as their neighbor on the other side of the cul-de-sac. It's a beautifully engineered car that oozes Germanic authority; the entire time I was driving it, I was fantasizing about how fabulous it would be to have one for the run from, say, Berlin to Frankfurt on the autobahn. I imagine myself barreling along in the left lane, three passengers luxuriating in the huge, comfortable cabin, barely cognizant that I'm running at 150+ mph. Lesser cars quickly scoot out of my way as that broad BMW snout and modified lower front apron loom in their rearview mirrors. If they dare to dawdle, the Alpina's beefy brakes authoritatively scrub off speed, and once the lane opens up again, a simple press of my right foot brings the full force of the 500-hp, twin-turbo V-8 into play. Ah, Germany!
The truth is, I drove the B7 Alpina to a wedding in the woods, to a dinner party, and to the grocery store; I hardly hit an American interstate, let alone the autobahn. Yet when I took it out onto my favorite stretch of twisty road and pushed it toward triple digits, I was astounded by its ride comfort and composure but disappointed by its steering, which seemed slow to react to quick changes of direction. I suspect, though, that it's tuned perfectly for that Berlin-to-Frankfurt run that figures so largely in my fantasies.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor