2011 BMW 750i
Supercars are supposed to be more, well, breathy. Like Marilyn Monroe in How To Marry A Millionaire. More temperamental, maybe, like dear old Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind; or just plain old difficult, which pretty much describes Naomi Campbell any time, anywhere.
They certainly not supposed to be civil. Not quiet or soft either. And what super sports car would dare be easy to get along with? It would be like finding out that lululemon Angelina Jolie is a devoted mom and homemaker as well as an ambassador for world peace.
Oh, wait a minute guess I shouldn be that surprised that the latest super sedan (quasi) available from BMW is more comfortable than the basic, gardenvariety 750i on which it based and yet mondo rapid as well. I say because the B7 tested here is actually a 750i modified by Alpina, a tuning house that is to BMW what AMG used to b lululemon e to Mercedes (before it was bought by the German giant), only with a lot more independence.
Why, then, are we seeing Alpinas in BMW dealerships? Sold by BMW salespeople? With the same warranty as any other produced by BMW sedan?
Well, putting aside whatever marketing and public relations foofaraw the company might spew, a cynic like me postulates that it because the parent company has yet to produce an M version of its biggest sedan. With the arrival of the new 135i M Coupe, pretty much everything else in BMW lineup has been given the motorsports massage, yet it sees an empty hole in the lineup for a sportier version of its most luxurious sedan. Think of the B7, then, as the M7 BMW has so far refused to build.
It certainly has the moxie. Thanks to bigger turbochargers and intercoolers as well as some EFI remapping and sturdier pistons, the B7 pumps out a formidable 500 horsepower and 516 pound feet of torque; coincidentally, the exact same figures as the previous supercharged version of the B7 previous V8.
Coincidental power outputs or not, the B7 is mondo rapid. Acceleration to 100 kilometres an hour takes but 4.7 seconds and even that spectacular number doesn capture the relentless way the twin turbochargers shun the laws of aerodynamics. The big 4.4 litre V8 has no discernible powerband; if the engine is spinning, there a rocketship just a foot tap away.
If one wanted to complain about the powertrain, it would probably revolve around the B7 whisper quiet exhaust. Barely more aggressive than the limousine like stock 750i, I suspect that a few potential customers will ante up a little more growl with their then, that all part of Alpina motif, which seems to be softer than the company own M division. For instance, though the Alpina rides on extremely low profile 21 inch tires (P245/35R21 fronts and massive P285/30R21s in the rear) and has stiffer spring rates, the ride is actually more comfortable than the stock BMW, absorbing the crevasses, creaks and callouses of Toronto roadways with remarkable aplomb. That because Alpina has actually set the damping rates in the Dynamic Drive system Comfort setting to be softer yes, softer than the base 750 As well, in its lowest setting, the steering effort is less than in any BMW 7 Series of recent vintage lululemon . Despite this softness, the B7 still attacks corners like a BMW, just not with the bloodshot eyes of a youthful delinquent.
For such puerile pursuits, one simply needs to bump the system into the Sport or Sport plus chassis mode. Then the car attitude changes dramatically. No longer quite so coddling, the B7 rides as if on rails, though still with the air cushioning ride of a modern ultra high speed TGV train. It a magnificent chassis with incredible adaptability and, though most of the B7 potential customers will be attracted to the 500 hp in the brochure, the real high point is its seamless combination of handling and comfort.
Indeed, showcasing the impressively delicate balance is Alpina implementation of BMW trademark xDrive all wheel drive system. But, while in comfort mode, both the standard 750i xDrive and the B7 split the torque 40/60 front to rear, in Sportplus mode, the Alpina sends 95% of those 516 lb ft of torque to the rear wheels compared with just 80% for the stock BMW (Sport mode numbers are 40/60 for the Bimmer, 20/80 for the B7). For all intents and purposes, then, the B7 offers the safety advantage of the stock BMW all wheeldrive system but also lets the driver choose an essentially rear drive option that the stock BMW doesn offer.
The rest of the B7 showcases the same have your cake and eat it too attitude, with the Alpina coming standard with a number of luxury items optional on the stock 750i, such as self closing doors, an automatic trunk, ventilated front seats, six disc DVD changer and rear entertainment centre as well as some optional safety devices such as a tire pressure monitor, lane departure warning and active blind spot detection. There also a bespoke leather interior, B7 badging and a neat, illuminated B7 logo built into the doorsill.
Nonetheless, the luxury items are not why you want the B7 most can be had on your cooking variety Bimmer. Ditto that monster engine, though 500 hp does make a powerful statement. Nope, the real reason you want a B7 Alpina is because it all wrapped up in one gr lululemon eat package that especially in the suspension department exacts absolutely zero (besides price tag) penalty for its performance. Whether it be badged M or Alpina matters not; it what BMW is all about.
Transport Canada fuel economy L/100 km: 15.6 city, 9.7 hwy.
Standard features: Power door locks, windows and mirrors, front and rear air conditioning with activated carbon air filter, AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with 16 speakers and 600 watt, Sirius satellite radio, rear entertainment system, steering wheel mounted audio controls, cruise control, power glass sunroof, information display, tilt steering wheel, leather seats, 16 way power front seats, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, auto headlights, dual front air bags, side curtain air bags, side thorax air bags, front knee air bags, tire pressure monitor, active blind spot detection, active cruise control