Edmunds Senior Writer Carlos Lago explores the all-new full-size luxury sedan 2017 BMW Alpina B7, from its comfortable ride to spacious back seat. He even checks out its suite of features like that in-cabin cologne spritzer.
SPEAKER 1: That right there is the BMW Alpina B7. What is Alpina? That's a great question. They're not really an in-house tuning company, but they're not a outhouse tuning company either. That sounds like an entirely different form of business altogether. Alpina exists as technically a separate company in Germany that happens to build cars based on BMW's. Now BMW North America has imported a very few amount of these vehicles and is selling them at dealerships. And that should be exciting for reasons that we'll get into as we talk about this car. Alpina's are not sports cars. They're less focused on performance like the BMW's M division cars are. They're all about refinement and luxury like this B7. The changes to the B7 which is based on the BMW 7 Series look from the outside pretty minimal, but they create a pretty striking change when taken as a whole. For starters, under the hood is a 4.4 liter twin turbo V8 that makes 600 horsepower, and that's a good start. But the majority of the changes to the front end are plainly obvious. The big change up here is the fascia. The lower facia is quite different with the Alpina script pretty proudly right there at the bottom. One interesting thing beneath this-- you notice that right here both parts of the elements of the fascia sort of go downward as they go away. It's something I'm not sure if I quite like once I notice because now I can't unsee it. But it does sort of back up these horizontal slats that they have to contrast against these vertical slats in the kidney grills. Although they don't look like kidneys anymore, do they? As we get the profile, let's come in and take a look at these wheels. All Alpina's have 20 spoke wheels. In this case, they happened to be 20 inch wheels front and rear. It's a really nice look that matches the overall profile of the vehicle, and in fact, I would kind of like to see more 7 Series with a wheel design like this. And you also get is a nice detail-- the Alpina badge right there, which is a pretty cool crest with car parts inside of it. That crankshaft on the right, and then the blue brake calipers front and rear. It's a nice little thing to reinforce like the Aplina branding. Details are pretty few in terms of numbers on this BMW 7 Series. And that's nice because the less complex a design is if you can make really simple things work, the overall package looks a bit more elegant, and it should age a lot better too. And if you notice here how big this rear door is. This is not an especially long wheel base variant of the car. It's a standard wheelbase that says the same as normal 7 Series, but you really appreciate how much width you have in this door and how much glass. And that speaks volumes about how much rear passenger space you get as well. Now coming back around to the rear-- again, there's not much. The design is really, really simple, but I think that helps it because they've made this design work well. You have the Alpina and the B7 logos on the back. Of course, the quad exhaust finishers. They're not really exhaust tips. The tips are further up in there, but the overall profile is something that will look different to people who know what they're looking for. But not necessarily stand up too much, and that's an important thing for a luxury car of this caliber. You may want to something you can enjoy. Something that's slightly different, but doesn't stand out too much in the crowd. And they've accomplished that with this B7. As much as we love to drive cars like this on empty roads with the glorious scenery behind us, the truth is this is how we drive cars-- on busy streets with lots of traffic. So what better way to explore some of what the B7 Alpina can do than by doing just that, cruising up and down Venice Boulevard. It's here on this rough surface with all of these cars around us that the B7's strengths really shine. You notice as we're cruising along this really bumpy not so well-maintained road, it's quiet in here. You get a little bit of tire noise from these massive wheels and tires, but the whole cabin-- the experience of driving in this is so isolated from the unpleasantries of everything outside the car. You can almost ignore it. I'm cruising with the seat ventilator on. I have the seat massage function set the whole body activation. Yes, that's a real setting. I've got the cologne system on the lowest setting, so I can get a faint whiff of whatever scent that they've plugged into this. You can choose your own though. And as I just sort of lightly cruise down the street, I don't really have to do much. In fact, I could turn on the adaptive cruise control, and the lane keep assist, and just gently guide the car with my fingers while it steers itself and manages the throttle and brake all by itself. I've done that on the freeway a few times, and in rush hour traffic it's really, really nice to not have to focus on what you have to do with the gas and brake. Just sort of read the traffic and drive accordingly. There's 600 horsepower powering this car, but you don't get it from the engine. The engines quiet until you ramp it up to sport mode. Then at that point it becomes very vocal and just thrusts you along at a pace that doesn't seem believable. We're at a red light. This is a perfect opportunity to get to the legal speed limit very quickly. Put the shifter in the sport setting. The exhaust is burbling a little bit more loudly, and let's just goose it. [LAUGHTER] We got to the speed limit very, very, very quickly. That felt good. [LAUGHTER] We have to also talk about the ride quality. It's quiet. It's smooth. But even on these super bumpy surfaces, you have a softness and a compliance. You don't register many of the bumps on the road unless they're the kind of bumps that need registering. I have a very commanding view of the road around me. The seat adjustability is fantastic. I can put myself in a position where all the controls are neatly laid out in view. Clear view of the speedometer, the tack, all relevant information there. We also have a head up display that you can disable if you want. You can control which information appears there, and it's a really nice sweet features that keep you in tune with whatever car's doing. So this just from the perspective of how it looks going down the road, it's presence on the road, it's services are really important thing in just making you feel good, and being a cool looking car that also happens to be really stinkin' fast, and super quiet, and comfortable. This is a really nice blend of a lot of the qualities that you would want when you're looking for a full size luxury sedan that can do a high 11 second quarter mile. It's a really nice mix of a lot of those features. [MUSIC PLAYING] The interior of this Alpina B7 is bizarre to put it mildly. The absurdly bright brown and the bright wood trim is a shock to everybody who hops in it. And it's not just the big brown detailing in wood trim. It's the contrast stitching. It's the white stitching that looks like a rope. It's the badge right here. It's an interior that makes an impression immediately when you get in the car. It might not be up to my tastes, but fortunately, you can get a different type of wood here. I'm pretty sure you can get this in an aluminum look. You can get a different color interior. Everybody who's hopped in this car as I've been driving has been like, whoa, at the interior. And I think it does it on purpose. It's kind of leaning into the say more German styling cues that you might hope an Alpina would deliver because there's a lot to talk about when it comes to technology. It's run rampant in ways that are really good and in ways that are maybe a little questionable. You operate the entertainment control through you have a volume dial here. You have steering wheel controls. You have a dial down here that adjusts things, but you can also adjust things through gestures. If I raise my finger like this and make this gesture, the volume turns up. If I do it the other way, the volume goes down. And if I make a gesture like this, it has an effect. You just heard it beep. It's a neat thing to show off. But in practice when you do it, you realize it's way more time consuming to try to do this to turn the volume up instead of just doing it on the steering wheel or reaching this knob. Also as I've been driving it, if I have a coffee here, I drink my coffee. I put my coffee down. Somewhere in that process it triggers a gesture. It misfires and goes forward in the song I'm listening to 30 seconds. It ends up being more frustrating than not. Similarly, a lot of the capacitive controls-- the air conditioning system is all controlled through this touch screen right here. It works nicely, but you have to look at it in order to understand what you're activating. You can't do it by feel. The I-drive controller-- this surface here is touch sensitive as well. And you control it by resting your fingers on it. So often you find that when you're trying to do something, you end up accidentally hitting this, triggering the screen to change. Now those are some really minor complaints. They seem pretty small and inconsequential. But they kind of annoy the driving experience. And those annoyances stack up, and they become something that detracts from the overall experience. The upside is the foundation of tech underneath this car works really well. This entertainment system is fast. It switches from screens really quickly. It supports Apple CarPlay if you spend $300 on the option. It doesn't support Android Auto at all, but there's enough functionality to approximate the experience that you get on a smartphone. Now looking forward we have what looks like a fairly traditional gauge cluster, big speedo on the left, big tech ometer on the right. It's actually a digital display though. The rim of the speedo is outlined. But as you change driving modes, you realize the whole screen is capable of changing and doing some neat things. What it really comes down to though is this is a luxury car. What's the interior of this luxury car? What's that experience like? Well, we have massaging. We have heated seat, heated armrests. We have ventilated seats. I almost forgot to talk about the types of cologne you could spray through the cabin via the controller here. Like the S-class Mercedes, in the glove box there are these little pods with little aromas you can put into the car. And if you activated here, it will spritz them through the cabin. This is a very expensive luxury car, so let's talk a little bit about build quality. Overall, things look very, very, very nice with the right level of fit, and the materials seem excellent. We have to talk about the camera system that can help you park with this vehicle. When we pull it up on the screen, you see we have a top down view. We have the backup lines. That's really nice, but we can also select this angle as well. You get a look at the vehicle-- its relationship to all the stuff outside of it in a unique angle that could help you park. We also have to hop in the backseat because there's plenty to talk about back there. Life's pretty good in the back in of the Alpina B7. Let me check my vanity mirror of which rear passengers get two, one each, looking all right. As I lean back into my seat, let me turn on my massage function back here. I also have duals on climate control back here as well as heated and ventilated seats. The headrest is more of a pillow, and the leg room here means I can cross my leg. It's very, very nice. There's so much space back here, and that massage feels good. It's almost like sitting in a lounge rather than a back seat. This arm rest is massive. You can technically sit an additional person here, but you wouldn't want to. That center there is pretty firm, and so is this backrest. They would also be sitting elevated. This seat is extraordinarily comfortable. Storage areas are OK. You even have little fold out ash trays on each of the doors. Does it get better? If you liked what you see here, hit subscribe or check out more on Edmond's YouTube channel. Seriously, we have a ton of stuff and even more on the way.
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2017 BMW ALPINA B7 Sedan Overview
The 2017 BMW ALPINA B7 Sedan is offered in the following styles: xDrive 4dr Sedan AWD (4.4L 8cyl Turbo 8A). ALPINA B7 Sedan models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The 2017 ALPINA B7 Sedan comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 8-speed shiftable automatic. The 2017 ALPINA B7 Sedan comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.