While the M badge proclaims a hardcore high-performance BMW, the Alpina logo signifies a high-speed luxury GT. And for 2021, it appears on the German brand’s range-topping SUV, the BMW Alpina XB7. But if you want to storm down roads in comfort, there’s also the equally-expensive 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63. So, which of these premium SUVs comes out on top? YouTube team Throttle House decided to investigate.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 and BMW Alpina XB7 have serious speed and serious luxury
BMW isn’t making an M-badged version of the X7. The 2021 BMW Alpina XB7, then, is the next best thing. But considering it starts at $141.3k, more than $66,000 over a base X7, it’s by no means a consolation prize.
Weighing roughly 5900 pounds, the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 isn’t exactly light. But it still goes 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, Motor1 reports. That’s thanks to a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 with 612 hp and 590 lb-ft linked to an eight-speed automatic and standard AWD. And BMW might be underselling its acceleration—Car and Driver estimates the SUV can do a 3.5-second 0-60-mph run.
The $132,100 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 isn’t exactly slow, though. Under its hood is a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged mild-hybrid V8 rated at 603 hp and 627 lb-ft. Together with AWD and a nine-speed automatic, the 5927-pounds GLS 63 goes 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds, Car and Driver reports. But, while the Alpina XB7 might beat it to 60 mph, Car and Driver estimates the Mercedes SUV wins in a 0-100 mph race.
Naturally, given their price tags, both the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 and BMW Alpina XB7 come well-equipped. Both three-row SUVs feature leather upholstery, full ADAS suites, heated and ventilated massaging front seats, heated second-row seats, full ADAS suites, and power-opening trunk lids, Roadshow reports. They also both feature adaptive air suspension, rear-wheel steering, and active sway bars, Roadshow and The Drive report.
The Alpina XB7 also has heated front armrests as well as heated and cooled cupholders as standard—they’re optional on the Mercedes. And it offers an optional LED roof lining that “mimics a starlit sky,” MotorTrend reports. However, the GLS 63 has optional heated and ventilated massaging second-row seats, as well as heated third-row seats. Those aren’t available on the XB7.
What’s it like driving these six-figure SUVs?
While features are undoubtedly important, those who buy SUVs costing well over $100,000 aren’t just looking for tech. The $330,000 Rolls-Royce Ghost, for example, doesn’t even have Android Auto, Motor1 reports. So, while the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 and Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 do have extensive infotainment features, they’re more about material quality and the driving experience.
In that regard, both SUVs absolutely deliver. The GLS 63 feels “’ impervious,’” MT reports, a serene, comfortable, and quick “fortress of solitude.” In comparison, the Alpina XB7 is less theatrical, Road & Track reports, but no less competent at being “a great grand tourer, blisteringly fast but quietly luxurious.”
But, while overall material quality is excellent in both, Throttle House found the GLS 63 to be a bit creakier inside. However, it also has more screens, a more intuitive infotainment system, and its power-operated second-row seats are easier to operate.
In base form, Car and Driver found the X7 drives slightly better. And according to Throttle House, that mostly holds in the AMG vs. Alpina comparison. The GLS 63’s transmission can be a bit jerky in Comfort Mode, and it has a bit more turbo lag. But it also shifts faster and corners with less body roll.
Which one is better-worth your time: the 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 or Mercedes-AMG GLS 63?
Sadly, if you wanted to get your hands on a BMW Alpina XB7, you’ll have to wait, as the 2021 models are sold out. In contrast, you can still get a 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 today. But should you?
In terms of road presence, the GLS 63 beats out the XB7 in exhaust noise and sharp cornering. But overall, Throttle House found Alpina’s SUV to deliver the more satisfying luxury experience. Which one you should spend your six figures on depends on your priorities.
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