ALPINA sure has come a long way since 1962 when company founder Burkard Bovensiepen developed a more efficient Weber carburettor for the BMW 1500.

BMW was so impressed with Burkard's work that it agreed to endorse cars fitted with his carb and back them with a full factory warranty.

Flushed with success Burkard looked around for premises that would enable him to work on more tuning accessories. He found an outbuilding belonging to Alpina, a typewriter manufacturer that had run into financial difficulties after an ill-advised foray into the textiles business.

Burkard and his eight-strong workforce moved into the Alpina factory and started a tuning business, initially concentrating on carbs and cylinder head modifications but later working its magic on complete engines.

This new Alpina quickly outgrew the old typewriter factory and by 1970 it had moved to new state-of-the-art premises in Buchloe.

Naturally Alpina sought to prove its tuning goodies on the racetrack. The team won the European Touring Car crown, the German hillclimb championship and, most impressive of all, the gruelling Spa 24 hour race.

Since 1983 Alpina has been recognised by the German Federal Ministry of Transport as an automobile manufacturer in its own right, rather than a tuning company. Alpina-built cars are registered as Alpinas, not BMWs, although they can be bought and service through BMW dealerships.

Although BMW has its own in-house M-sport tuning division, which turns out such goodies as the M3 and M5 super saloons, an Alpina runs these impressive vehicles very close - and, in some cases, actually exceeds their performance.

Alpina’s latest supersaloon is now available in the UK with a final specification that pushes top speed to an astonishing 205 mph, up from the 193 mph predicted at the Geneva launch. With an Alpina-optimised 4.4 litre V8 delivering 608 hp (up from 600 for the show car) and 800 Nm of torque, the new B7 Bi-Turbo joins an exclusive group of cars with effortless 200 mph performance.

Remarkably, Alpina has achieved this alongside superb ride quality and refinement at lower speeds for £115,000.

That's a lot of money but compared to the ridiculous price tags of other cars in the 200mph+ club the Alpina looks like a bargain.

Based on a BMW 7-Series saloon, at the heart of the new B7 Bi-Turbo is a heavily-revised, direct injection V8 breathing through two specially-developed, twin-scroll turbochargers located between the cylinder banks. A new wide-bore intake system providing shorter intake paths and optimised radii allows near-instant throttle response. Naturally, the engine's pistons and spark plugs are uprated to Alpina's own specifications.

The eight-speed automatic transmission also receives additional cooling, alongside a host of modifications that include strengthened gear clusters and a larger torque converter.

The ZF transmission can be controlled manually using buttons on the back of the sports steering wheel, which is hand-finished in leather with blue and green signature stitching to provide a luxurious feel while retaining the firm rim preferred by skilled drivers.

To reduce weight, for example, the 7-Series BMW’s door and windscreen pillars, the transmission tunnel and the windscreen header are all made from carbon fibre composite.

All B7 Bi-Turbos destined for the UK will be long wheelbase cars with air suspension (allowing ride height to be automatically reduced by 20 mm in Sport+ Mode), Active Roll Stabilisation (with new light weight, high-speed electro mechanical actuation), and active rear steering, which turns the rear wheels a maximum of three degrees the opposite way to the front wheels at low speeds and the same way at higher speeds.

For now the Alpina B7 stands at the summit of BMW's 7-Series line up, at least until BMW's own M-Sport version appears.

And even when it does, BMW may impose its own 155mph top speed limitation on the car - giving Alpina owners bar room bragging rights whatever the spec sheets may say. Not bad for a former typewriter manufacturer.