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Lightning Lap 2017: BMW Alpina B7 xDrive

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/5/2017 K.C. COLWELL, JOSH JACQUOT, TONY QUIROGA, AARON ROBINSON, ERIC TINGWALL

2017 BMW Alpina B7 xDrive
Lap Time: 3:04.3

Class: LLTransporter

Base Price: $137,995

As-Tested Price: $152,545

Power and Weight: 600 hp • 4901 lb • 8.2 lb/hp

Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sport, F: 255/40ZR-20 (101Y) R: 295/35ZR-20 (105Y)

The BMW M760i suggests that a 17-foot-long, two-and-a-half-ton sedan designed around the rear seat has no business lapping a track. The Alpina B7, in turn, proves that the M760i has no business wearing an M badge.

With the B7, the 55-year-old tuning house in Buchloe, Germany, demonstrates a better understanding of the M’s mission brief than BMW’s own engineers. Alpina’s massaging of the 7-series chassis is what transforms it from luxury sedan to sports sedan. The B7 responds faithfully to quick jukes and high g’s, happily playing along with the Lightning Lap conceit. The steering wheel turns with confident heft. The suspension tamps out excessive roll. Wider Michelin tires elevate lateral grip, with the B7 recording 0.97 g in Turn 1, compared with the M760i’s 0.93 g. Scanning the laps side by side, it becomes clear that the B7 doesn’t earn its lead over the M760i in any one spot. It simply covers most sections of the track at a faster pace.

Lightning Lap 2017: BMW Alpina B7 xDrive© K.C. COLWELL, JOSH JACQUOT, TONY QUIROGA, AARON ROBINSON, ERIC TINGWALL Lightning Lap 2017: BMW Alpina B7 xDrive

The Alpina’s twin-turbo V-8 doesn’t have the same presence as the M760i’s honeyed 12-cylinder, but it is the key factor in the B7’s 157-pound advantage and $18,500 discount compared with the M760i. Oddly, the B7’s eight-cylinder suffered a similar affliction as the M760i’s V-12, stumbling at high rpm, cutting power, and leaving us frustrated by our relatively small set of uninterrupted fast laps. But in the B7, the car’s sure-footed handling made it easier to get up to speed quickly, meaning the lap time you see here reflects an honest assessment of its abilities.

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