Haute Auto : BMW & Rolls Royce

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2013 Alpina B7

Speed. Power. Grace. The BMW Alpina B7 delivers all that, and more.

 the B7 surrounds its occupants with fine leathers and woods, sound insulation and a great entertainment system, all as luxurious as any car on the market.

How hot? Try 540 horsepower, 538 pound-feet of torque, 4.3 seconds 0—60 and an electronically-limited top speed of over 190 mph. This is a car that can cruise along with civility, transporting five Earthlings, and then take on the big boys at the track. And unlike prior Alpina creations, the B7 can be purchased from and serviced at your local BMW dealer, all with a BMW factory warranty.

To drive this car is an exercise in restraint as one is just a pedal-stomp away from a mug shot. The heads-up display thoughtfully includes the current speed limit (onboard technology reads those signs) and posts it right next to your actual speed, a useful reminder (some would say “taunt”). This is just one of many high-tech accoutrements that the B7 provides its occupants (a James Bondian night-vision camera is another).

And yet, contrary to the supercars of yesteryear (and some of this year), the B7 surrounds its occupants with fine leathers and woods, sound insulation and a great entertainment system, all as luxurious as any car on the market. Yin, meet Yang.

2013 ghost extended wheelbase

The Ghost is the newest of Rolls-Royce’s models and the longer “Extended Wheelbase” (EWB) version is R-R’s newest of the new. Much smaller than its big brother, the Phantom, the Ghost is closer in size to a 7-series BMW but this car has the fit and finish of its Rolls-Royce brethren— woods and leathers and fabrics, oh my! Combining the best of its English heritage with German engineering (Rolls-Royce has been a formal part of the BMW brand for almost ten years now), the car exudes luxury, strength and power. The 12-cylinder engine produces over 560 horsepower and some 575 pound-feet of torque. That’s a good thing because motivating a 5,335-pound car to move along “smartly,” at a reported 0–60 time of 4.8 seconds, requires some serious oomph.

Despite it’s chauffeur-ready size (about seven inches longer than the standard Ghost, both in wheelbase and overall length), the car is quite flingable. It’s deceptively quick with reflexes that belie its size and make it an overall joy to drive. In keeping with its provenance, my first nighttime drive was to whisk Gail and myself to dinner at the local country club (say hello to Mr. Trump) and the drive to and from was cloudlike. The Ghost never wallows— it absorbs the road as if it were freshly paved.

Simply put, the Ghost is at home in the twisties and on the boulevard, at the market and at the opera, and with a governed top speed limited to 155 mph, it can hurtle its charges at highway speeds with supreme quiet and aplomb.

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