Alpina XB7 2020 review
3 August 2020 - autocar
Alpina’s most powerful SUV to date builds on the strengths of the X7 M50i with outstanding pace and impressive dynamic traits, but it’s thirsty and boasts a high CO2 figure
What is it?
The BMW X7 M50i not extreme or perhaps exclusive enough for you? Alpina thinks it might have you covered with this, its most powerful series production SUV to date, the new XB7.
The latest addition to the German car maker's growing line-up is based on the already potent X7 M50i. Changes include a heavily revised engine and gearbox, tweaked suspension and brakes, and all the usual up-market Alpina cabin accoutrements, including the option of either a six- or seven-seat layout.
As roomy and luxurious as the XB7 is, it is its engine that is the star of the show. The twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 petrol unit gets larger twin-scroll turbochargers, two additional water coolers, reworked intercoolers and a stainless-steel exhaust. Power is up by a not insignificant 90bhp at 623bhp, while torque increases by 37lb ft to 590lb ft on a band of revs between 2000 and 5000rpm.
To put this in perspective, the Bentley Bentayga W12's twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 engine delivers 600bhp and 664lb ft of torque between 1350 and 4000rpm.
The X7 M50i's eight-speed automatic gearbox has also been reworked with Alpina's Switchtronic paddle shift program, a new aluminium oil sump and new mapping – all aimed at speeding shifts and ensuring it can deal with the higher levels of torque. BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system has also been subtly revised with new program maps.
What's it like?
Alpina has done a spectacular job of upping performance while retaining the overall responsiveness, linearity of delivery and mechanical smoothness of the donor car. With so much accessible torque, there's serious punch on a loaded throttle in sport mode, and a suitably angry exhaust note, too. The claimed 0-62mph time improves on the X7 M50i by 0.5sec, while top speed, limited by the tyres according to Alpina, is pegged at 180mph.
The pinch comes with average consumption, which is put at just 20.3mpg and gives the new Alpina a CO2 rating of 316g/km.
We drove the XB7 on a circuit, so conclusions on its real world driving characteristics, including its ride quality, will have to wait for now. The steering feels quite a bit sharper than that of the M50i and, with an air suspension that reduces ride height at speed, it also boasts outstanding body control for such a big and heavy SUV.
It is fun to push through a challenging set of corners despite the early onset of roll steer, which more than outright grip, proves its limiting dynamic factor.
Should I buy one?
Not that many prospective owners are ever likely to experience the new Alpina model in full flight. Which is a pity, because it is a even more controlled and engaging drive than the X7 M50i. And predicatably a good deal more expensive as well.
Alpina XB7 specification
Where Bilster Berg, Germany Price £130,000 (estimated) On sale Q4 2020 Engine V8, 4395cc, turbo, petrol Power 613bhp at 5500rpm Torque 590lb ft at 2000-5000rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2655kg Top speed 180mph 0-62mph 4.2sec Fuel economy 20.3mpg CO2 316g/km Rivals Bentley Bentayga W12, BMW X7 M50i, Mercedes-AMG GLS63 4Matic