Driven - The All-New BMW X7 - Wafting Through Poland - Part One

Driven - The All-New BMW X7 - Wafting Through Poland - Part One

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
04 Jul 2019

The month of May brings cooler temperatures to Poland. Just the ideal time to take BMW’s flagship cars out for a bit of a road trip. But this is no ordinary drive, but one which covers quite a bit of ground, beginning in Warsaw, and through a number of European Nations.

Oneshift got the privilege to take on the first leg of this culturally immersive and scenic drive; where we get a taste of Poland, before crossing over to the Czech Republic. The BMW CSEU Driving Experience 2019 showcases the best of what Central European nations have to offer, and we do this in comfort, luxury, and sheer driving pleasure; courtesy of BMW’s new X7 flagship SUV.

We begin in Poland’s capital, Warsaw. A city shaped by a turbulent past, evident in its architecture. From Gothic styled buildings which withstood the ravages of the Second World War, post-war Soviet style apartment blocks, its faithfully restored Old Town and preserved ruins makes for a city, now peppered with modernity, a go-to destination which is full of character.

While the chiming bells of the war’s end and release from a controlled economy are pages turned over in Poland’s storied history, you can still get a taste of what it was like during these trying periods from very informative walking food tours. Olga Badowska our food guide knew just how to work this into our systems, beginning with more traditional fare at a cafe called Pyzy Flaki Gorące!’, loosely translated, it means ‘hot dumplings and innards’. Olga was quick to point out that the foods served carry with them origins from the country’s impoverished past; where even the cheapest cuts, and parts of the animal which many of us would likely not dare to eat, would find its way to the dinner table. Dumplings are a staple in traditional Polish culture, and so is cured fish and the liberal use of lard (the latter being my personal favourite). Today, these simple dishes are comfort foods to the Poles.

We also get to meet the famous and aptly named "Baron of Fermentation”, one of Poland’s top chefs, Aleksander Baron, who has honed the art of pickling just about any food item he gets his hands on. How about some Polish Kimchi?

Cheese production also has made its way into Poland, with a good number of artisan producers supplying restaurants with their unique take on traditional cheeses, great for pairing with wines, and as flavourings for dishes.

The BMW X7 - Stepping In And Stepping Up

With full stomachs, we clamber into the opulent interior of BMW’s new flagship SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle in BMW talk) the X7, to take us to the next desitnation.

The Singaporean team, which is part of a 140-strong contingent of journalists from around the globe, are one of only two Asian teams attending the trip. When I mention ‘team’ it really is just two of us, and we would go on to take turns piloting the mammoth X7 (and the facelifted 7 Series - look out for part 2 of ‘Wafting Through Poland’) through Poland, and in to Czech Republic. The tour will then continue (sadly without us), covering much of Central and Eastern Europe, and ending in Greece, all in a span of 23 days; covering a distance of almost 5,000km.

Pulling out from the carpark of the swanky Raffles Europejski Warsaw Hotel, our X7 which carries the M50d badge; their range-topping diesel (sorry Singapore, you’re not going to get this one), delivers an impressive 400hp and a whopping 760Nm. A light squeeze of the throttle produces a faint-yet-authoritative burble from the front, and the X7 takes off effortlessly. The oil-burning 3.0 straight-six is helped by no less than four turbochargers, and delivers its drive in creamy-smooth fashion; through a version of ZF’s 8HP range of transmissions, and transferring power to all four wheels. 0-100km/h takes only 5.4 seconds.

The new X7 expands on the appeal of the iconic (and the iconic appeal of the) all-new X5. Built to be a true 7-seater, the X7 features longer coachwork, measuring 5,151mm in length, while its wheelbase at 3,105mm is 130mm longer than that of the X5’s. The additional difference in-between the wheels and rear-end, makes packing in the troops, especially at the rear much easier. Cargo space with all seats deployed stands at a practical 326 litres, and with the middle and back rows folded, the X7 swallows a massive 2,120 litres.

We are on our own, with our destination pre-keyed into the SatNav, and displayed on a large 12.3” screen, with waypoints set in-between, so that we would not get lost. The BMW Operating System 7.0 supports navigation through its familiar iDrive Controller, buttons on the steering wheel, and also supports touch, voice and gesture. The last includes two new gesture actions, bringing the total of recognisable swipey hand signs to seven.

Navigating Warsaw’s streets in the X7 is quite an easy task, even with a car this, its Integral Active Steering helps to reduce the turn circle by facing the rear wheels opposite of the front, allowing the car to make tighter turns, similar to a vehicle with a shorter wheelbase. The X7 also features BMW’s new Reversing Assistant, which helps automatically reverse the car out of tight obstacle-filled spaces, for up to a distance of 50 meters, by tracing the path you have initially taken. Ideal when you need to back out of a tight spot.

Behind the driver’s seat, the X7’s 12.3” digital instrument cluster delivers information clearly, and doubles up as a secondary display for the SatNav. There is also a windscreen-projected Head-Up Display which helps you keep your eyes on the road. The latter is especially helpful, once we open the throttle up on the highway. Ride quality is superb, thanks to the automatic self- levelling two-axle air suspension, which allows the body to waft over any undulations.

With about 400km to cover, those ventilated front seats equipped with massage, and cup holders with temp adjusters are simply godsends.

While cruising along, we got to play with the all-new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant (think the equivalent of Google Home). Saying “Hey BMW” prompts the assistant to start, and you can ask it to do things for you. Saying “Hey BMW, I’m cold” will prompt the system to adjust the temperature upward. My personal favorite is “Hey BMW, I’m bored”, in which the car promptly switches over to “Sport” mode.

The very same Integral Active Steering which reduces the X7’s turn circle along tight city streets, steers in the same direction as the wheels in-front, helping to deliver lane-changing stability similar to cars with longer wheelbases.

Driving in such cool weather prompts us to roll back the screen which covers the full-sized panoramic glass roof, to allow additional light flood into the cabin. We know that the roof’s Sky Lounge generates an exclusive aura when its dark, fed by LED light spread evenly across the glass to illuminate more than 15,000 graphic patterns, generating a display reminiscent of a starlit sky, unfortunately we never got a chance for a night drive. Speaking about driving at night, the X7 is also equipped with Laserlight with Adaptive LED Headlights. Its non-dazzling high beam boasts a 600m range, not that we need it on our well-lit streets, but it is a nice thing to have… and we do like nice things.

Making our way South-westward to the old city of Wrocław, where our rest stop is for the night, we get a chance to experience older-narrower European roads, and the rolling hills of the Polish countryside. We reach our destination, entering the grounds of grand old lady, the 400-year old Gola Dzierżoniowska Castle in style. The castle has been tastefully converted into a hotel, and even comes complete with a defensive moat.

At a time where the luxury SUV segment is heating up even more, the BMW X7 is truly an impressive offering, upping the game, delivering a luxurious drive, coupled with superb handling, and filled to the brim with very useful tech.

Stay tuned for Part Two, when we put their newly facelifted 7-Series through its paces, driving through the scenic-yet-challenging Droga 100 Zakrętów (100 Turns Road), on the way to the Czech Republic.

Singapore gets the:

BMW X7 xDrive40i
Six-cylinder in-line petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
Capacity: 2,998 cc.
Power: 340 hp at 5,500 – 6,500 rpm.
Torque: 450 Nm at 1,500 – 5,200 rpm.
Acceleration (0 – 100 km/h): 6.1 seconds.
Top speed: 245 km/h.
CO2 emissions: 217 g/km.

Credits: Words: Clifford Chow - Pictures: BMW & Clifford Chow

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