This sedan is sadly not one you hear talked about a lot.
Today I wanted to change that because quite frankly it is one of the most underrated four-door hacks out there.
I’m talking, of course, about the BMW Alpina B7.
The Alpina B7 stands alone both in class and hackability. It follows the lineage of the 7-series but has some serious differentiations that make it a better car and a better hack than the big-body mafia cars you may be more familiar with.
Many may wonder what even is an ‘Alpina’ as BMW is more known for putting an ‘M’ beside their higher-end/performance models. The M is just that, a performance car. A daily driver with racing DNA imprinted upon it and slightly tuned down to make grocery getting easy but also fun.
The Alpina is the other side of the coin, it is all about luxury. But that doesn’t mean that they neglected to tune up the engine. So not only are you getting a finely tuned, hand-built engine, but you are also getting a more luxurious and bespoke design feel. This gives you a gorgeous touring car that can still whip around the streets and take turns much like an M car.
Keep on reading to see why it should be your next hack.
I read something once and it stuck with me, “The M is the car for the track and the Alpina is the car to get you there.”
Alpina is a separate but combined entity with BMW, they are an automobile coachbuilder. They build the engines for these specifically by hand as well as craft the interior differently than any other BMW model. Then once done they ship all the parts mechanical and non over to a BMW factory where the car is finally assembled. This adds a bit of bespoke flavor to a rather machine-made type of brand.
The Alpina’s are not meant to be sporty, track toys like the M’s, they are made more to be a powerful and luxurious daily driver with both functionality and the ability to enjoy every moment behind the wheel or strapped into the seats in front or in back.
The hand-built engine packs a ton of power though, in true BMW fashion. With a 4.4L turbocharged V8 engine, this glorious beast is tuned up to 600 horsepower with 494 pounds of torque giving it the ability to go 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds which is an astounding feat of engineering.
Inside the cabin, you won’t hear the roar of the engine or even the whoosh of the turbos. Instead, you will hear silence and experience what is may feel like to drive a cloud down your local interstate. The cabin is incredibly spacious, making road trips or long haul drives with the family an easy task, with also plenty of room in the trunk to pack away suitcases, golf clubs, you name it. The BMW Alpina B7 can get you where you need to go with power in both comfort and luxury.
BMW Alpina B7 Common Problems
Alpinas, even though their certain parts and components are constructed separately from other BMWs, all contain the same essential parts and therefore seem to find themselves having the same common issues that lots of other BMWs notoriously have, such as:
Water pump issues
Oil pump issues
Waste gate/engine rattling issues
All of these issues can typically be foreseen or diagnosed at a pre-purchase inspection, which is something you should do with all vehicles you are looking to purchase for your next hack.
There are also some open recalls for the BMW Alpina B7 that you can look into here, make sure that either the previous owner has completed these recalls with documentation, or schedule an appointment with the dealer to have these recalls issued soon after taking delivery of the car.
BMW Alpina B7 Cost of Ownership/Maintenance
Many will claim that BMWs are incredibly expensive to fix, and this is 100% true.. if you continue to bring them to the franchise dealer for service after the factory warranty/service period has expired.
It is the result of clever marketing that we were raised to believe. Bring it to the dealer, and they will do the best job possible, and for such an expensive car, you want the best job.
However, this line of thinking is misguided.
You don’t have to have as much cash as the car is worth to be able to buy it, and you don’t have to bring cars back to their dealer for service. BMW has some of the least skilled mechanics in their shops. You are MUCH better going to an independent.
Hell, even my Porsche 918 goes to a third-party shop for most work. BUT it isn’t just any third-party shop, it is one that is well known in the community, well-vetted and one I built a relationship with starting with a Maserati Quattroporte and evolving over time all the way up to my hypercar collection now that includes my McLaren P1, Bugatti Chiron, Porsche 918, Ford GT, etc.
While it may be scary to put your trust in a third-party independent shop, following the guidelines, reading reviews, and building a relationship with them can help mitigate that apprehension. You will also be happy to see the difference in your repair bill as well.
You’ll find many reputable third-party shops were former factory-trained technicians who left to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams – who wouldn’t want to support that?
Alpina B7s are special, but their engines still use the same BMW parts that any shop can typically get their hands on, and a well-trained mechanic can work on.
Oil changes at BMW dealers typically can range from $300-$800, and that doesn’t include major services like spark plugs, cabin filter changes, etc. But at a third-party shop, you could potentially get all that work done in a routine service and more for half of the price.
Another great route is to also utilize services yourself when it comes to things that the car may need throughout its lifetime, buy your tires yourself from a site like Discount Tire Direct, bring the tires to the shop and simply pay them for the installation/mount and balance fee.
You’ll come to find the total is much cheaper than if you asked the dealer to order and install the tires for you.
BMW Alpina B7 Trim Differences
There are no additional trim levels to the Alpina B7 as it itself is the highest trim level of the BMW B-series line.
However, there was a generational shift from 16-19 to 19-present, with the 19+’s having some additional features such as a new internal display interface, updated facelift, etc.
BMW Alpina B7 Options
While Alpina’s are built a bit differently than the regular BMWs or the Ms for that matter, their option set up is still relatively the same. BMW doesn’t do so many ala carte options like Ferrari or McLaren, but more so packages that contain options inside of them.
Whilst having more of the packages is nice from a sticker standpoint, the Alpina in and of itself is already a high trim level car that comes with a premium interior, upgraded engine, and standard but still high-quality wheels and other options. Therefore, you want to ensure above all else you are getting a relatively and universally hot color combination with good mileage/year ratio with a clean PPI from a trusted shop.
If you’d like to take a look at the list of packages as well as a configurator for the exterior and interior color options, you can do so here
Best BMW Alpina B7 To Buy
If you are looking for perhaps the most budget-friendly option of the B7s, then you will want to go with the 16-17s. Seeing as the B7s are the highest trim level it is more about finding one in a strong color combination and decent miles than anything else.
If you want to pay more for the newer tech and slightly updated facelift, then go for a 19 in the second-gen.
A good rule of thumb to follow in terms of mileage: take how many years old the car is, and multiply that by 5,000. So a 17 is 5 years old (2022) and that would mean a good mileage allowance would be 25,000 miles on the odometer, always better to find less, and you don’t usually want to stray too far over unless the price point matches the mileage overage.
The BMW Alpina B7 may not be for everyone. For some it is too understated, wanting to drive something more branded and known like a Mercedes S63 or Audi RS7. But for others, this car may just be perfect, offering you an “if you know, you know” approach to ownership, and may just be the answer to the question of what daily driver should you get into next.