The professionals at Car and Driver recently published their test results of the Alpina XB7. Unveiled in 2020 before quickly selling out in terms of production allotments for the year, the Alpina XB7 is based on the X7, the largest BMW model yet and the first SAV from the automaker to come standard with three rows and seating for seven. As had been discussed here and elsewhere, BMW was rather slow to enter the three-row SUV market, after Mercedes-Benz and Audi first jumped in during the mid-2000s. The wait was likely worth it though, as X7 sales have been strong since the model become available, and it’s also won an award.
Like the 7 Series, BMW doesn’t build an M version of the X7, and this is where Alpina enters the equation. Although BMW still makes a V12 range-topper in the form of the M760i xDrive, the updated Alpina B7 costs less and outperforms it, all while affording more in the way of luxury and isolated comfort. Outside of Alpina, the fastest version of the X7 you can buy is the X7 M50i, which makes do with a 523-horsepower V8 with 553 pound-feet of torque—the same figure as the M5 and M8. That’s enough for the X7 M50i to sprint from zero to 60 in 4.1 seconds according to Car and Driver, precisely in line with BMW’s own claims.
If you want the ultimate X7 though, and what is perhaps the ultimate BMW SAV, the XB7 has your name on it. Based on the X7 M50i in the same way the Alpina B8 Gran Coupé is derived from the M850i, the XB7 is perhaps best thought of as an M equivalent that’s likely the better choice for every day use. Output of 612 horsepower from 5,500 to 6,500 rpm and 590 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 come courtesy of the Alpina N63 V8, which is hand-assembled in Buchloe prior to installation. The numbers are on par with the latest and greatest from BMW M, but the Alpina XB7 (and the B8 Gran Coupé) don’t come with the performance-at-all-costs ride quality the current M model portfolio is known for.
When Car and Driver tested the Alpina XB7, the results were rather unsurprising for those who’ve been following BMW’s latest models over the past few years. Although BMW claims the XB7 can accelerate from zero-to-60 in four seconds flat, during Car and Driver‘s instrumented test, a 2021 model year example pulled it off in 3.7 seconds. The rolling start five-to-60 test takes 4.9 seconds, and the quarter mile come and goes in 12.1 seconds at 117 mph. Those figures are impressive on their own, but even more so when considering the 5,864-pound curb weight of the XB7.
The next closest competitor that prospective buyers are likely to be cross-shopping is the Mercedes-AMG GLS63. The Mercedes weighs a bit more at 5,927 pounds, but also has 627 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 rpm to make up for the added mass. During Car and Driver‘s testing of the model, the GLS63 AMG was able to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and cover the quarter mile in twelve seconds flat at 115 mph. The rolling start from five to 60 acceleration test took 4.8 seconds, meaning the Alpina XB7 is precisely 0.1 seconds slower than the GLS63 AMG all all of the aforementioned metrics. The XB7 boasts an advantage of being more compliant and comfortable in terms of ride height though, even when optioned with 23-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires. Put the AMG and Alpina next to each other at speed and gun it, and the two are nearly indistinguishable, with the XB7 said to pull slightly ahead of the GLS63 during the 30 to 50 mph test and the 50 to 70 mph passing test.
The performance of the Alpina XB7 places it among the fastest three-row SUVs available, a short list which includes the 710-horsepower Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat. The Durango Hellcat covers the quarter mile in twelve seconds at 115 mph and accelerates to 60 from a dead stop in 3.6 seconds (identical to the GLS63 AMG), but weighs significantly less at 5,300 pounds, and was the worst of the three in terms of fuel economy and road-holding, yet the fastest of the bunch over the five to 60 mph rolling start test, at 4.2 seconds.
Considering the exclusivity and all-around quality of the XB7, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better in the segment.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]