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2014 BMW Alpina B7 Overview
The 2014 BMW Alpina B7 has all the classic elegance and high-end comfort of a traditional BMW 7 Series sedan, and then throws more power and exclusivity on top of that already luxurious mix.
Alpina is a German tuning company that has been modifying BMWs since the early 1960s. Although it works closely with BMW, Alpina is still an independent company, and it maintains separate production facilities, where it created about 500 Alpina B7 models for 2014.
After making some exterior style and powertrain changes in 2013, there are only a few infotainment changes for this year's version. The base audio system is now a 16-speaker Harman Kardon unit that features a premium amplifier, graphic equalizer, speed-sensitive volume, voice recognition, steering-wheel-mounted controls, MP3 capabilities, an auxiliary input jack, a single in-dash CD player and a 6-disc player mounted in the glovebox. The iDrive system, which controls all information, entertainment and comfort features in the vehicle, has been updated with a multi-touch surface on top of the control knob to simplify access to the entire system.
The primary difference between the Alpina B7 and its 7 Series siblings lies under its shapely hood. The Alpina B7 starts with the same twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 that powers the 750 sedans, but it increases the boost on the turbo and adds larger turbochargers to up the horsepower from 445 to 540 and the torque from 480 lb-ft to 538. To accommodate that additional horsepower, the Alpina B7 has a larger intercooler, a transmission oil cooler and upgraded pistons, brakes, tires and suspension. The rear-wheel-drive Alpina B7 versions get 16 mpg city/25 highway, while the all-wheel-drive (xDrive, in BMW parlance) versions get 16/24. All versions come with an 8-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and Alpina Switch-Tronic sequential shift control.
While the Alpina B7 is too big (it weighs 4,866 pounds) to truly handle like a sports car, there's no doubt it's a high-performance vehicle. It can move from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 188 mph. The specialized front and rear spoilers, sport-tuned and adaptive suspension, 4-setting ride-control system and re-calibrated shocks make sure the driver can control all that power. The emphasis on handling does decrease a bit from ride quality, and the Alpina B7 can feel a bit rougher over broken pavement than one might expect.
There are some interior touches that also differentiate the Alpina B7 from other 7 Series sedans: blue illuminated door sills, a hand-stitched steering wheel in Lavalina leather, a unique LCD instrument cluster and exclusive Myrtle Burl wood or Piano Black interior trim.
This regal road conqueror can be had in four 4-door variations—rear-wheel drive with short wheelbase (SWB), xDrive with SWB, rear-wheel drive with long wheelbase (LWB) or xDrive with LWB. The LWB adds 5.5 inches in length and about $4,000 to the sticker price, and the xDrive system costs an extra $3,000. The LWB models do have an option for power reclining and cooled rear seats, but otherwise the features are the same on all 4 trims.
Exterior highlights include directionally adaptive headlights with washers, front and rear fog lights, a chrome grille, power open and close trunk, heated power mirrors, sunroof, spoiler and special Alpina 21-inch silver aluminum wheels that hide the air valve inside the hub for increased aerodynamics and wheel balance. The interior features include goodies like dual-zone front air conditioning, rear air conditioning with separate controls, 12-way power heated and cooled adaptive bucket front seats with memory, heated rear bench in SWB models, leather seat trim, Bluetooth, cruise control, voice recorder, head-up display, keyless access system, theft deterrent system, ignition disable, navigation system with voice activation and a DVD entertainment system with a first-row LCD screen and 2 second-row LCD screens.
Standard safety features include lane-departure warning, 4-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, driveline traction control, stability control, anti-whiplash head restraints, low tire pressure warning, BMW Assist eCall service, front and side impact airbags, overhead airbags, curtain airbags and knee airbags. There's also plenty of optional safety technology like a front-collision warning system, night vision with pedestrian detection and active blind-spot detection.