After two extremely trying encounters with the British Airports Authority, which saw me compete for The Great Healthrow Terminal Marathon and British Airways who told me on arrival at Munich that my only checked-in baggage with all its toiletries and clothes had been misplaced, I stepped out into the concourse into the bright sunshine.
My troubles seemed to melt away as my eyes fell upon the BMW 7 series, extended, waiting to ferry, lo and behold, me to the Bavarian countryside. I strapped myself into the front passenger’s seat and began admiring the console. Having sat in aircraft cockpits, the experience was not wholly new. The young driver, a half Greek, half-German student studying medicine in Munich, was my guide and host for the next hour and a half.
The BMW 7 series is no ordinary car, but you possibly know that. I learnt quickly that I could hit the rotary dial located where the gear shift usually is, call up the menu on the screen placed on the dashboard and, among other things, fiddle with the suspension settings. “Will it be soft or sporty ?” asked the young driver. I chose soft and tweaked the electric switches to become even more comfortable.
No Limits Here
Autobahns don’t have speed limits right, I asked ? No, he said. I can go faster but we usually don’t. I looked like I rode autobahns for a living. I mean, we can go fast, but I don’t know if you would be okay, he said, adding insult to injury. Go ahead, I waved my hands. At which point, he dabbed the accelerator I think. I say I think because I didn't feel anything, but the speedometer leapt from 140 kmph to over 210 kmph.
I don’t know if it was the G-Forces or the fact that we were suddenly rocketing ahead of the seemingly crawling traffic but my heart skipped a beat. The young man seemed to have sensed some tremors on the passenger seat so he slowed down, to a sedate 160 kmph. I pretended to look at the GPS reader very carefully. "Aren't we in the same direction as Salzburg," I asked.
The highway was packed with trailers, heading towards Munich. Viktor, the driver, pointed out that the trailers were mostly Italians wanting to have a go at the Oktoberfest, presently on in full gusto in the city. Much as I wanted to, I never did make it there. Though I did see the lights of the fest from a distance in a tall building in Munich.
The Ultimate Suspension Challenge
While autobahns don’t have speed limits, recognize that you can rarely go over 180 kmph, such are traffic conditions at least on the arterial highways. The inner roads have speed limits. While the 7 Series comes with a host of other features, best left to automotive journalists to describe, I think the part I liked best was the suspension.
In fact, the Indian in me already wants to throw a challenge to BMW engineers. First, for the Indian versions (not 7 series), they should add a option called Bombay Roads, in addition to soft, sport etc. And promise that this will be the ultimate spine protector anywhere in the world. Think about it, its the automobile engineering challenge after, maybe, cars that run on water ! And I guarantee people will line up outside the dealerships.