BMW tuner-turned-manufacturer Alpina will venture further into SUV territory when it unveils its first evolution of the X7. The biggest Alpina-badged model to date is scheduled to make its public debut online on May 19.
Called XB7, the high-riding behemoth is important enough to receive its own website, which Alpina calls First-Class Adventures. It's not what it sounds like; it's safe for work, we promise. All that's on it right now is an image of an Alpina-branded iDrive dial and a clock counting down the days until the model breaks cover.
Official details are few and far between, but the XB7 nameplate confirms power will come from a gasoline-burning engine; it'd be called XD7 if it received a turbodiesel. Alpina normally shoots for the top of the range, so it's reasonable to assume it will start with the M50i model, which uses a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 tuned to 523 horsepower. An output in the vicinity of 600 horsepower is likely, while comprehensive updates to the brakes and the suspension will help drivers make the most of the extra horses. It won't be a corner carver, though.
One of the most important differences between Alpina and BMW M is that the former makes cars for the autobahn, while the latter peddles machines that feel right at home on the Nürburgring. This distinction partially explains why Alpina can credibly turn the X7 (pictured) into the XB7, but M refuses to put its name on one.
We expect the XB7 will receive the standard round of subtle visual updates Alpina makes to every car that leaves its workshop. Its front end will receive a splitter, its rear end will wear a new-look bumper, and thin stripes will tell other motorists they're not getting passed by a run-of-the-mill X7. Alpina-specific alloys will round out the look. Inside, the upgrades will be limited to trim and upholstery changes (including the nearly grain-free Lavalina leather found only in its cars and a handful of Rolls-Royce models) plus a redesigned digital instrument cluster.
Alpina's smaller models, like the 3 Series-based B3 and D3, aren't available in the United States. It hasn't revealed whether it will sell the XB7 here, but we'd be extremely surprised if the SUV doesn't join the B7 in showrooms sooner rather than later. BMW developed the X7 largely for the American market, and it makes the model in its Spartanburg, South Carolina, factory. We're one of the biggest markets for big, high-performance SUVs so selling the XB7 here would make a tremendous amount of sense. It's doubtful that Alpina would have been able to put together a business case for it without relying on power-hungry, SUV-loving American motorists.
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