Okay, we’re not the first to speculate in this direction; Jalopnik has already predicted that the next Alpina to come to America will be based on the BMW X7, even though for some years our only choices were the B7 or the B6; by intertial logic, then, the next Alpina would be based on the car descended from the 6 Series, the 8 Series—and surely a B8 Gran Coupé would be a beautiful thing indeed.
But what about the M8? Is that howling monster not available as a Gran Coupé? Well, no, not yet—but we’ve already seen it in paisley pajamas, and its M8 coupe and convertible cousins are already on the road, if not quite in your dealer’s showroom. So yes, the M8 Gran Coupé is definitely growling in the wings.
And surely BMW—especially BMW M GmbH—would not care to be upstaged in the high-performance arenas of its cars. So if you can get an M version, there’s probably not going to be an Alpina version available to you.
Consider, too, that Alpina has been spending much of its time lately making ferocious versions of various BMW SAVs and SACs that are not sold in America; there’s something ominous about standing close to an Alpina XD4. You just know it’s about to break loose and go on a rampage.
But just when you think it would be a simple matter for Alpina to make a petrol version—and it would! It would!—remember that M thing: BMW already makes an X4 M. And an X3 M. And an X5 M. And yes, there’s an X6 M, too, about as outrageous a midlife-crisis mauler as could be imagined. So don’t expect to see those carrying Alpina badges, at least in this country.
What does that leave? The X7.
To begin with, let’s remember the economic status of the person who’s looking at the X7. First, we’ll ignore the base-model six, as in X740i, because come on! X7! So we’re left with the V8 starting at Ninety Large. The buy-in for the somewhat Emmified X7 M50i pushes a hundred grand. So these folks are not going to have difficulties nudging their way into Alpina XB7 monetary territory.
Nobody at BMW of North America or at Alpina’s Buchloe plant is pooh-poohing the idea, either, as they usually do when I hint at something outrageous, so I’m taking that as a sign.
However, there are certainly some logistics to be worked out. Currently, nascent X3s and X4s travel from South Carolina to Buchloe, near Munich, where they are Alpinified and sent on to their eager owners in Europe and elsewhere. But it doesn’t make sense to send a car from the U.S. to Bavaria, tweak it, and send it back here; I think that Alpina will either set up a facility near the Spartanburg plant, or even carve out a corner of their own in that huge factory. I suspect that they will follow the former course, because there is a distinct identity to Alpina, distinct from BMW itself. They certainly don’t want to be swallowed up as just another brand within the brand, and an Alpina B7—or XB7—will be something quite different from, say, an AMG Mercedes.
I’d say it should take about a year to confirm my speculations.—Satch Carlson
[Photos courtesy ALPINA Burkard Bovensiepen GmbH + Co. KG., BMW AG.]