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2021 BMW Alpina XB7 is a 600-hp SUV that should put Bentley and Lamborghini on notice

Alpina is known for churning out some of the best Bimmers you can buy, and the hotted-up X7-derived XB7 looks to be no different.

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The XB7 is obviously based on BMW's excellent X7 SUV, but don't let its looks fool you -- there's plenty of difference for the money.

BMW

The name Alpina might not be immediately recognizable if you're not a big fan of BMW and its offerings, but to those who know, Tuesday's announcement of the BMW tuning arm's first US-market SUV is a big deal.

Alpina is an independent company founded in 1965 with the express purpose of tuning Bavaria's finest automobiles. Typically, Alpina's high-performance take on BMW's production models sits somewhere between the hardcore M (M3, M5, M8, etc.) version and the more pedestrian M-Sport versions that most people buy. (Or, in the case of the Alpina B7, in place of a proper M7.) This works out to a car with added luxury and styling touches, but mostly a crap-ton (this is a technical term) more performance and a more daily-driver-friendly ride. If this sounds like the recipe for a seriously good X7 SUV, you're probably right, and Alpina agrees.

The 2021 Alpina XB7 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, alongside the standard BMW X7 SUV, but that's mostly where their similarities stop. See, the Alpina XB7 won't have the X7 M50i's paltry 530 horsepower. No, it'll have its wick turned up to the tune of 612 hp and 590 pound-feet of torque. Apart from the added jam under the hood, the folks in Buchloe have worked some wizardry on the transmission with help from the engineers at ZF to make the eight-speed 'box withstand all the punishment the 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 can deliver. Longevity is cool, right? There's also a special Alpina exhaust to help that engine sound its best and make regular X7 owners feel inadequate.

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The X7's interior was already good, but Alpina upgrades materials to make it a lot more special.

BMW

Alpina's also rejiggered the X7's air suspension for better handling. It will drop itself up to 1.6 inches depending on speed and performance mode (or if you want to look super boss when hard parked with the gang during your responsibly socially distanced car meet). Rear-wheel steering is also along for the ride and should help hide some of the XB7's considerable bulk when driving enthusiastically.

Inside the cabin, you get some bespoke Alpina touches like a crystal iDrive control knob that's been engraved with the tuning company's (super awesome) crest, a blue illuminated gear selector switch, an Alpina production plaque, illuminated door sills and an Alpina sport steering wheel trimmed in the company's Lavalina leather with its iconic blue and green stitching. There are also several interior trim finishes on offer, including Myrtle Luxury Wood, Piano Lacquer and Natural Walnut Anthracite.

Other than that, what you get with the XB7 is high-spec X7 goodies, and that's no bad thing. There are lots of driver-assistance systems onboard as well as tons of infotainment and convenience tech. Check out our X7 review for the full skinny on all of that.

All of this power and luxury put the XB7 handily in Bentley Bentayga Speed and Lamborghini Urus territory, but with arguably better looks and at much lower price. The Bentayga Speed starts at around $200,000, and Lamborghini's Urus for $207,000 before options. The Alpina XB7 is a comparative bargain at just $142,295 (including destination). Of course, that's before options, but Alpinas typically come nicely equipped.

The Alpina XB7 can be ordered through your friendly local BMW dealer starting this month, with deliveries expected to begin sometime in September.