Cars

A Day With Two X-es: Driving the BMW X5 and X7 

It's easy to forget the troubles of everyday life when you're behind the wheel of BMW's SAVs.
IMAGE MIKKO ABELLO
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While in the middle of doing another post-event report for yet another campaign, I got a message from my editor asking if I’d be available to drive up to Tagaytay in a few days to try out the BMW X5 and X7. It was one of those no-brainer moments when no matter how much work I had on my plate, there was no way I would pass up an opportunity to get away even just for a few hours. 

Having a corporate day job in the new normal is a lot more 24/7 than 9-5. It helps when you love what you do but work does take its toll and writing for Esquire the past few months about the many things I’m passionate about has been a great weekly escape, as much as my schedule permits. Before my editor could change his mind, I said yes and I texted my boss if I could take the day off. After reminding me about the current Taal Volcano alert level in the surrounding areas including Tagaytay, she said okay, and I was all set.

Photo by Mikko Abello.
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The itinerary was pretty simple. Lunch at Escala Tagaytay Hotel and back. Accompanied by BMW’s Nico Ylanan and Thea Geronimo, Jacob Oliva of The Philippine Star and I took turns taking each BMW Sports Activity Vehicle for a spin. Going there, I was assigned to the super sporty BMW X5 and on the way back to Manila, what I was really looking forward to driving, the drop-dead gorgeous, fully loaded BMW X7.

Up to Tagaytay with the X5

Climbing into the X5 was therapeutic to say the least. Nobody enjoys Manila traffic but I couldn’t complain about being stuck in such a good-looking vehicle while waiting to get on the expressway. The X5 sports BMW’s xLine design and has an equally stunning interior. The five-door, five-seater X5 is powered by a BMW TwinPower Turbo in-line six-cylinder diesel engine and has an eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic Sport to let you make the most of all that horsepower, all 265 of it to be exact. As we slowly put more and more distance between our convoy and the city, all my everyday anxieties just faded away as I settled into the X5’s elegant cabin.

Photo by Mikko Abello.
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Without even having to read the long list of specs, you just know you’re in a well-built machine with the way the X5 handles. Weaving through C-5 and SLEX traffic and making our way up to Tagaytay was of the utmost ease thanks to the BMW xDrive All-Wheel Drive System and the X5’s safety features such as Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Dynamic Traction Control (DTC), and Cornering Brake Control (CBC), among many others. I also enjoyed playing around with the driving experience control which lets you switch back and forth between COMFORT and SPORT modes depending on how much open road you have in front of you, and ECO PRO for when traffic starts to build up.

The hour and a half drive was super comfortable thanks to the Vernasca leather upholstered sport seats with lumbar support that just hugs your body while you drive. BMW Live Cockpit Professional also helps you with practically everything you do while you’re behind the wheel.

Photo by Mikko Abello.
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Up in Tagaytay, we enjoyed great Filipino cuisine at Escala along with the most breathtaking view of what appeared to be a relatively peaceful Taal Volcano. The entire time though, I remember just secretly wanting to get the meal over with so we could finally get back on the road and to the piece de resistance.

Back to the city with the X7

An overwhelming feeling of calm envelopes you as you sink into the luxurious Merino leather seats of the X7. Everything just feels super premium from all the leather and wood details down to the glass “Crafted Clarity” interior elements. BMW definitely made sure not to scrimp on this one. Although equipped with the same powertrain and transmission as the X5, the X7 is the supersized version of the latter and I’m not just talking about its dimensions.

Photo by Mikko Abello.

Yes, it goes without saying the five-door, seven-seater is bigger, taller, and longer than the former but that’s not where the differences end. For one, the X7 has a third row to comfortably carry more passengers. Its 21-inch Y-spoke light alloy wheels are an inch larger than the X-5’s V-spoke ones. It also opts for BMW Laserlights unlike its little brother. The X7 also goes for the Pure Excellence exterior design with a remarkably extra aggressive look. The X7 glares. Literally a mean machine.

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I was expecting the X7 to be more difficult to drive because of its larger size but I was pleasantly surprised with how good it handles. A lot of times during the ride, I found myself torn between the enjoyment of piloting this beast and wondering just how much more enjoyable it would be to sit in the second row and have someone drive me around instead. It was a perfect summer day for a long drive and the X7’s panorama glass roof let me appreciate taking in literally everything around me while the automatic five-zone air conditioning kept the cabin perfectly frigid to fight the 30-plus degree heat outside. 

Photo by Mikko Abello.

Speaking of automatic, everything just seems to be in the X7. From the sunroof to the seat adjustment for all three rows, the roller sunblinds on the second row, all the way to the ambient lighting you need to set the mood while you enjoy watching your favorite show on the rear-seat entertainment displays like you’re flying on a private jet. It was opulent without going overboard. Even as we returned to the city and the sad reality of how bad our roads need repaving, potholes and uneven asphalt were barely a problem for the X7 with its Adaptive 2-axle air suspension. It felt like riding on a cloud. Just like the X5, the X7 also runs on the BMW xDrive all-wheel drive system.

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An inspiring drive

Getting into the X5 and X7 was inspiring. The experience, as advertised, was indeed sheer driving pleasure. For an hour and a half at a time, I was able to take my mind off whatever troubles lay waiting outside the moving metal and glass. It gave the feeling of untouchable safety and security while I traversed Tagaytay’s roads with the danger of Taal’s temperament looming not too far away.

Getting to drive these two amazing vehicles from BMW made me want to just dive right back into the bottomless pit of work waiting for me the next day, get my boss to give me a raise, and someday soon, buy myself one of these beauties.

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