Entrepreneur Drives: 2021 BMW Alpina XB7
We hit the road in one of the most powerful SUVs on the planet.
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August 4, 2021
5 minutes to read
If you want to give a vehicle a good driving test, you take it on a closed course and connect all kinds of monitors and computers to get precision measurements while you test it by braking, accelerating and in bends.
But if you really want to stress test a vehicle, which pushes it to its limits in the most extreme conditions, you skip the track and the tech, and instead load it with family members, suitcases and boards bodyboard and cover 125 miles to your first vacation from containment. This is the test I did on the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7.
Our journey began among the manicured lawns of Westchester, New York and ended in the spray of the crashing waves of Montauk at the far end of Long Island. While this three-row SUV looks understated and refined from the outside, there’s a terrible secret under the hood: a twin-turbo V8 engine producing 612 horsepower. For those unfamiliar with it, that’s a lot of power. A similarly sized Honda Pilot has 280 horsepower and the 2022 Corvette has 490. So what does that mean? As I discovered on a rare stretch of the Long Island Freeway that wasn’t bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Alpina can movement.
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Car and driver the magazine says the Alpina goes from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds. Considering my precious cargo (i.e. my wife, two teenage sons, and a chic beach chair with a built-in umbrella), I didn’t try to figure it out for myself. But without publicly admitting anything that would get me to traffic court and / or jail, I’ll say I pulled a Tesla or two off the line as I pulled up at red lights passing through the Hamptons. (Of course, the other pilots didn’t really know they were racing me, but still, I smoked them.)
All those hours of play Tetris finally pay.
The Alpina lets you choose from two different driving modes, which affect performance and suspension: Sport and Comfort. Sport mode makes the vehicle faster and dumber. Comfort mode, as you can guess, is more comfortable. Now, as anyone who’s ever taken a road trip with their family that lasts longer than 10 minutes, whining in the backseat can put an immediate dent in your great vacation. So while the ‘dude’ in me wanted to live in the rumble of Sport mode for our three hour ride, we mostly sailed in comfort.
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On this front, the Alpina delivers a lot. The front and passenger seats give the impression of sitting on a butter cloud made of leather and good life decisions. At the rear, we folded down the third row to maximize our trunk space. The second row can have either a three-seater rear bench or two individual captain’s seats. Our vehicle was equipped with a bench and our teenage sons were able to stretch out as they wished. And the individual entertainment screens in the backs of the front seats fought over which SiriusXM station would provide the minimum soundtrack for our trip.
Horn if you’re fancy.
Everything in the interior of the Alpina is scary. I hesitated at least 15 seconds before bringing a cup of coffee inside. The gear selector has clear glass, an illuminated blue button, the fully tilted audio system and the massive panoramic sunroof make you feel like you’re driving in a convertible that will never ruin your job. I really dug it all in, but I was really, really struck by the navigation system. My sense of direction is, to say the least, hot garbage. The Alpina’s large touchscreen with pinch and zoom capabilities saved my butt on several occasions as I tried shortcuts to avoid traffic and hopelessly got lost on back roads. Oh, and speaking of hot rubbish, I have to mention that the front seats have built-in air conditioning vents. After three hours of battling traffic in the 90 degree heat, you would expect to step out of your vehicle with a soggy back and not-so-cool feeling. But if you are driving the Alpina, you are wrong.
The exterior of the Alpina is luxurious, but understated. Loved the rims and the cool light pattern thrown by the running boards as you approach them at night. And honestly, I loved that even though this is a super luxury vehicle that starts at around $ 140,000, it doesn’t shout that fact out to the world. You, the driver, experience all the features and performance that its price offers without feeling like you’re showing off. Or go through a terrible midlife crisis.
The only thing about this test drive that I didn’t like was the part where I had to bring it back and go home in my 2008 Saab, whose air conditioner in failure has two modes: hot and you will die. I’ll never forget you, ventilated seats!
Price: From $ 140,000
0-60: 3.7 seconds
Powerful : 612 hp
Seats: 6 passengers