2021 BMW XB7 Alpina Pros
- It’s real fast, and not just for a three-row SUV
- The performance in no way compromises comfort
- It’s different, unique, special…
2021 BMW XB7 Alpina Cons
- The exhaust note is a little bland given the performance
- You’ll have trouble finding one
The world of ultra-exclusive, high-performance three-row SUVs shouldn’t exist, and yet here we are with models like the 2021 BMW XB7 Alpina. Who needs a three-row SUV that delivers over 600 horsepower and costs as much as two Porsche Caymans? No one. But the automotive industry isn’t in the need business, it’s in the want business.
I certainly don’t need a BMW XB7 Alpina, but after driving it I want one. Really badly. Before getting to why that is, a little background on the model itself.
Alpina: A Different Take on Performance
BMW has two ways of injecting insane performance into its cars. The first is the M division which we all know and that is much more visible on the road. The second is Alpina which isn’t a division. It’s more like a friend of the family. What started as an office equipment manufacturing company became a BMW tuner in the 60s (weird transition, we know) that, today, sharpens and improves some of BMWs most luxurious models.
North America has only seen Alpina’s premium stuff. There’s the B7 Alpina which is based off the 7 Series, as well as the B6 Alpina, an upgraded 6 Series. The German tuner does tune the 5 Series and the 3 Series, but those are reserved for Europe while here, we only get M versions of those two.
Alpina doesn’t go to the extremes the way BMW M will. An Alpina car isn’t as hardcore as an M car, offering a better balance of comfort and performance as opposed to feel-every-pothole suspension settings and wake-up-your-neighbors exhaust notes. And that’s why here, BMW chose to give us the XB7 as opposed to a BMW X7M. It’s the same reason we get a B7 Alpina, not a M7 7 Series.
BMW sees the X7 as its flagship premium SUV which it is, and the refinement and comfort it provides shouldn’t be compromised in the name of performance. And so, enter the 2021 BMW XB7 Alpina. The results are a near perfect execution of balance between luxury and sportiness, fast accelerations paired with remarkable stability, and impressive cornering despite soft dampers.
2021 BMW XB7 Alpina: The Performance is There, But Never At The Expense of Comfort
The last BMW I drove prior to the XB7 Alpina was the BMW X6M Competition and although I loved the performance and ruckus exhaust, I couldn’t get over how harsh it was cruising down the highway. The thing is loud, it sends every bump right through your spine, and it just gets to be too much if you driving anywhere that’s not a track.
No such feeling arrives in the XB7 Alpina. The cabin is as quiet as the regular X7 interior, the seats are as plush and although they offer decent bolstering, it never gets to be constrictive. The 23-inch distinctive wheels and sport-tuned suspension should be comfort-killers, but Alpina has managed to make the XB7 glide over the road, absorbing imperfections before they reach the passengers. It much the same was as a Rolls-Royce or Bentley makes you forget you are riding on massive rims, the XB7 gives you style with no compromise.
It also gives you tremendous handling which, again, leaves you with more questions than answers. How XB7 can feel smaller and smaller as speed increases around a corner is one of those unique automotive engineering curiosities. Various systems like an active anti-roll system and air suspension contribute to giving the Alpina XB7 its stability in tight corners, and only if you really push the envelope will you be reminded that the thing weighs over three tons.
On the other hand, only a few large SUVs will beat it in a cornering match. The Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT, and Audi RS Q8 come to mind, but then again those aren’t three-row SUVs, and they aren’t as comfortable or quiet as the XB7 Alpina. I haven’t driven the new Mercedes-AMG GLS 63, but Matt did review it and he will soon publish a comparo of both so we’ll have to wait to see if they match up.
For now, what is confirmed is that the XB7 Alpina has exceptional handling and cornerning abilities for its size and the comfort it provides.
As for straight-line performance, well, the Alpina has that covered as well. It is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 engine that unleashes 612 horsepower and, more importantly, 590 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. This means the XB7 is always ready to go and gets off the line with as much confidence as it climbs in speed. It delivers 89 more ponies than the X7 M50i and reaches 60 mph (97 km/h) in the 4.0 seconds.
When you do floor the right pedal, you feel more of a rush of speed than an explosion of power. Again, we must reference Rolls-Royce here, because the feeling of forward motion is similar. It doesn’t throw you into your seat, but you do feel the speed building and the posted speed limit coming dangerously closer. It’s a much different feeling than a full-out acceleration in an M model like the BMW X5M or X6M. It may not appeal to true enthusiasts as much, but I’d bet they wouldn’t look at a model like this anyway. The only downside I can think of is that the exhaust note is definitely dialed down. I loved that the XB7 Alpina preserves comfort and gives you three rows of useful space, I just wished it sounded better when accelerating. Or rather, that it sounded more.
That said, this is an easy high-performance SUV to fall in love with. You’ll have a blast taking the long winding highway entrance ramp and then flooring it when it straitens out, and then once on the highway you’ll enjoy the level of luxury and comfort the 2021 BMW XB7 Alpina provides.