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500 Horsepower 2011 BMW Alpina B7 Returns To United States - Web Exclusive

Jan 11, 2010

BMW of North America announced that the 2011 BMW Alpina B7 sedan will join BMW’s product range as the most dynamic 7 Series model. Both short- and long-wheelbase models will be offered.

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The B7 represents the second generation of Alpina automobiles based on the 7 Series to be offered in the US. The first B7 was offered as a limited edition for the 2007/08 model years.

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The most interesting aspect of the B7 is its powertrain. It is equipped with BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4 liter, all-aluminum, High Precision Direct Injection V8 engine, which has been enhanced by Alpina to produced 500hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. This rear-wheel drive performance/luxury sedan achieves 0-60mph in 4.5 sec. With maximum torque available across an unusually broad engine range, from 3000 to 4750rpm, the B7 accelerates effortlessly from virtually any speed.

The two turbochargers operate in parallel, with turbine vanes measuring 44mm in diameter. Thorough exploitation of the engine’s potential was achieved by means of optimizing the watercooled intercooler with its short intake paths and flow-optimized intercooler tracts. All three intercoolers, the low-temperature intercooler integrated into the radiator package, as well as the two near-engine intercoolers were enlarged by approximately 35% to ensuring high thermodynamic efficiency. High-performance pistons were also specified to withstand the thermodynamic forces created by a 9.2:1 compression and a maximum turbo boost of 1.0 bar. The result is a formidable specific output of 115hp per liter.

This wide powerband, coupled with the six-speed sport automatic transmission gives the driver high levels of power. The Alpina Switch-Tronic transmission offers tailored shift characteristics for every driver and situation thanks to its Sport and Manual modes. To manually select the gears of the automatic transmission, the driver uses buttons on the back of the Alpina-tailored steering wheel. This results in shifts taking place in a few hundred milliseconds with minimal power interruption.

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Ending in two polished double-tailpipes, the stainless-steel Alpina exhaust offers a deep and sonorous yet unintrusive V8 sound that enthusiasts expect from Alpina.

Although not yet so well-known in North America, Alpina is famous in Europe and around the world for putting a performance accent on BMWs. The two companies, both from Bavaria, have a long history of working together to produce special BMW automobiles.

Burkard Bovensiepen, son of the founder of Alpina Business Machines and an enthusiastic racing driver and engineer, began his automotive career path in 1961 by developing a dual-carburetor setup for the just-introduced BMW 1500 sedan. It was a predictive beginning: to take an already competent yet practical BMW sedan and make it perform even better.

By 1964, BMW had officially recognized ALPINA’s contribution to BMW performance. Not long thereafter, Burkard Bovensiepen founded Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen KG that continues today, creating special versions of BMW automobiles.

Outside the circle of dedicated BMW enthusiasts, Alpina has kept a low profile in North America. In addition to racing versions of BMWs, Alpina developed a progression of cars based on 3, 5, 6, 8, Z4 and Z8 models and offered them on a limited-production basis. The B7 is the newest manifestation of the unique BMW- Alpina synergy - once again based on the BMW 7 Series luxury sedan. It includes state-of-the-art adaptive suspension technologies plus shorter and uniquely calibrated springs to reduce front and rear ride height by 15mm and 10mm respectively.

The result is that the BMW ALPINA B7 captures an agility associated with much smaller sedans, while preserving the ride quality associated with the BMW 7 Series.

The light-weight 21" wheels, with their new interpretation of the Alpina Classic wheel design, are shod with a specially selected staggered Michelin PS2 tire set-up: 245/35 R21 front and 285/30 R21 rear.

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The B7 sedan is finished with Alpina aerodynamics, including front and rear spoilers, which not only enhance the appearance but also improve stability and performance at high speeds. In true "form-follows-function" fashion, the Alpina front integrates the air requirements of the transmission and engine oil coolers, which are separated out of the main cooler module for improved efficiency. The spoilers reduce lift at the front by 30% and rear by 15%. The exhaust system’s two double tailpipes are seamlessly integrated into the rear bumper.

The interior of the B7 sedan features Alpina blue illuminated door sill trims, the Switch-Tronic steering wheel in hand-stitched Lavalina leather, and the Black-Panel LCD screen instrument cluster branded with Alpina. Exclusive interior luxury wood trim in the form of Myrtle Burl, a knotted burl of the Laurel only found on the Pacific Coast of the United States, provides a warm and traditional ambience. Optional Alpina Piano Lacquer interior trim with its silver diagonal rhombs, offers a modern alternative.

The full complement of BMW 7 Series exterior colors remains available, in addition to the signature Alpina Blue metallic paint.

Discreet metal Alpina emblems adorn the upper seatbacks of the standard leather Comfort seats and are inlayed in the wood trim. An additional Alpina plaque indentifying the car is mounted on the inner roof panel just ahead of the sunroof. Even the engine bay carries a subtle signature by tidily presenting itself with a newly-designed Alpina engine cover.

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