Back those finer details. Open the table-sized clamshell bonnet, gaze upon the engine bay and you'll see there are some very clever touches. The B7’s new intake ducts now take a shortcut directly from bumper to block, and to achieve this Alpina has threaded them through – that's right, through – the strut-braces. This is art where you’d least expect to find it. You'll also notice a pipe linking the intercoolers. It's not specific to Alpina, but does reduce the severity of the air pulses between each bank of cylinders, in turn reducing turbo-lag and sharpening throttle response.
To help the hardware cope with the flood of torque low in the rev-range, Alpina also reinforces the planetary gearsets of ZF's eight-speed torque converter (with lock-up clutch), and the cooling system is upgraded, not least with additional radiators. The knock-on benefit of strengthening the ’box is that Alpina then doesn't need to reduce torque during upshifts, and so the car is more stable during while accelerating out of corner. While we're at it, in Sport mode, shifts have also been quickened.
How has Alpina changed the 7 Series' appearance?
The looks? Highly subjective. Aesthetically the car certainly isn’t as incognito as we’ve become accustomed to from Alpina, and to some extent that's deliberate; to some extent it's enforced. Owners suggested the previous model was a touch too demure for something so special – and expensive – but then BMW upped the donor car’s Instagram game substantially.
There isn’t much Alpina can do about the new 7 Series’ awkward maw, but even without, it the new car – available only in long-wheelbase form – commands attention like little else on the road. At the rear it gets a modest spoiler with an equally subtle diffuser, but there’s no mistaking the quad-tailpipes, or the drooping chin spoiler, or the deko stripes, or the hue of our test car – ‘Alpina Blue’. Park up next to that S63 AMG and you’d wonder to where the Benz had disappeared, which seems a ridiculous thing to say but, in the metal, the B7 really does have monumental presence.
Of course, kerbside appeal and performance only part of the deal here. Really, this optimised take on the recently facelifted BMW 7 Series is more about the chassis. The B7 uses the same height-adjustable air springs as the G11 7 Series, and the tuning is largely carried over from the previous B7. It is, however, now programmed to drop a stance-enhancing 15mm lower than the BMW 750i donor car when set to Sport Plus mode or driven faster than 140mph.
Alpina says the dampers have been recalibrated, not only for ‘the very highest level of driving comfort’ but also a level of control alien to most cars of this ilk, and the active anti-roll bars have been retuned to reduce body roll to the realistic absolute minimum without impinging on that ride quality. The front axle is said to possess unshakeable stability – a hallmark of all Alpina's cars – and the B7 is able to execute warp-speed lane-changes on the Autobahn without breaking a sweat.
Grounding this 2175kg car is a set of forged 20in wheels made of high-strength aluminium and wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, though 21in items are an option, if not entirely suitable British roads by Alpina's own admission. Either way, their design stands the B7 out as something unsual even from one-hundred paces.
How does the Alpina B7 handle on a circuit?
Ignore the pictures, which were taken on the country roads around Alpina's base at Buchloe. Because of the WTLP testing backlog afflicting the whole industry, the B7 isn’t yet homologated for road use, so our first experience behind the wheel is confined to the track – the very fast and very bumpy Salzburgring.