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608hp Alpina B7 gains xDrive with facelift

Low demand for the rear-drive UK B7 has convinced Alpina to send the continental-spec car here

By Sam Sheehan / Monday, February 11, 2019

Guess how many Alpina B7s the brand has sold in Britain since the F01-generation was introduced here in 2017. Nope, less than that. Lower... There exists only one UK-specification F01 B7, which, you might remember is significantly different from the model sold on the continent because it was rear-wheel drive. We don our hats to the lone buyer of a right-hooker B7 in UK trim, a person who clearly prefers their 608hp channelled through the back wheels only.

Of course, with such little demand, it's of no surprise at all to learn that the facelifted B7 offered in Britain will now be directly aligned with its European version, which uses xDrive all-wheel drive as standard. It's a sad day for those (or should we say the one person) who enjoyed pulling powerslides in their long-wheelbase limo from Buchloe. But for those who desire more effortless cross continental pace, the adoption of four driven wheels may be welcomed.

It certainly helps this 2.1-ton limo get up and go with more gusto. The latest all-wheel drive B7 can sprint from 0-62mph in 3.6 seconds, a tenth quicker than the pre-facelift European B7 and four tenths better than the old rear-drive UK model. Most of the improvement from the latter comes thanks to traction, because the 4.4-litre Bi-turbo motor under the bonnet remains largely as it was before, with the same 608hp and 590lb ft on offer from its two banks of four-cylinders.

That being said, there have been internal improvements, with larger turbines for the twin-scroll blowers and a new interconnection between the intercoolers to more effectively balance pressure between the V8's banks. These changes, along with new engine management software, have helped to make the engine's peak torque more accessible (590lb ft from just 2,000rpm) and quicken throttle response. Lovely.

Also contributing to the better stats is the use of ZF's latest eight-speed Sport Automatic gearbox, a torque converter that gets closer ratios and flicks between cogs faster. It works quickest in Alpina's Sport mode but retains Comfort and Efficienct Dynamics functions from the regular 7 Series. The tone of the stainless-steel sports exhaust system mirrors the settings applied to the powertrain; Alpina says it's freer breathing than the original BMW item.

The chassis remains 7 Series long-wheelbase only, using air suspension combined with Alpina-tuned dynamic dampers and active roll stabilisation technology. While the new car is unlikely to provide the sort of throttle adjustability we assume the single owner of the UK-spec B7 gets to enjoy on a daily basis, the new car's use of rear-wheel steering should help to sharpen things up a bit. The back wheels can turn up to three degrees, enhancing low-speed manoeuvrability and high-speed stability.

Elsewhere, the changes follow those of the facelifted 7 Series, with a pair of enormous (and divisive) large kidney grilles the most prominent new arrivals, although Alpina has also added a new front apron. Inside, passengers can now use the very latest Driving Assistant Professional system, but the Nappa leather-wrapped interior is largely the same as before. Not that anyone has ever complained of it lacking in luxury. Anyway, Alpina allows buyers to customise such vast amounts of the car that the launch specification is more of a baseline than example of what you might see on the road.

On that subject, Alpina is confident it'll sell more examples of the facelifted B7 in Britain because, well, it's already matched the old one by receiving an early order. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but something in the region of £120,000 is expected. Pricey, but ultra-plush long-distance machines that can smear the landscape across your face without breaking a sweat don't come much more capable than this. Or rarer, as is evident on the classifieds...

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