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Update: BMW 5 Series GT Review.

BMW 5 Series GT

The braintrust at BMW believes they have the answer for customers who want the everyday versatility of an SUV combined with the luxury of an executive sedan – and that answer is the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo.

By Mark Hacking, Spartanburg, South Carolina

In a sneak peak held at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, in the US of A, journalists had the chance to see the new five-door in person and go for a ride around a test track – albeit not at the controls.

This is an interesting approach to introducing a new car and the same tack that Porsche took in giving writers a first taste of the Panamera earlier this year. Travel thousands of kilometres to be chauffeured around in the back of a new German luxury car? Why not?

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There’s method to this apparent madness, though; with both the Panamera and the 5 Series GT, the respective manufacturers are keen to position their cars as viable luxury “four-door coupes” for the whole family with plenty of head- and legroom in all seating positions.

Here, then, are the first impressions from this back-seat driver.

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In speaking about this new shape of car, BMW referred to research that indicated a wagon could never be considered a true luxury ride because the back seat passengers are, in effect, always sitting right in front of the cargo area.

Being a big fan of wagons, particularly those of the Germanic variety, I’d never considered this point at all.

When you stop to think about it, this makes some sense; in a sedan, all the passengers can be separated from their gear in a quiet and comfortable cabin, not so in a wagon or hatchback.

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Based on the platform of the new 7 Series, the 5 Series GT offers more room than a standard 5 Series, a higher seat height (close to two inches higher than the 7), greater interior volume overall (including headroom comparable to an X5), adjustable rear seats and the added functionality of a dual-mode rear tailgate that operates as a boot or a hatch.

If the pre-production models we saw are any measuring stick, BMW also plans to load up the GT with some serious luxury amenities.

There will be two different interior configurations distinguished by the backseat layout. The base GT will come with a 40-20-40-split rear bench that can hold three passengers and fold flat to accommodate more gear.

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There will also be an optional “luxury seating package” with power-operated flat-folding 2+2 seats. In both configurations, the rear seats can be moved forward and aft, while the angle of the seatbacks can also be adjusted.

Other interesting aspects of the interior include the tremendous glass area. The 5 Series GT features very large and frameless door windows that give the cabin a light and airy feel.

This characteristic is promoted even further with the optional panoramic moonroof that consumes a massive 55 per cent of the roof surface area.

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Of course, being a BMW, this new model will definitely not be all show and no go. In most markets, the first model released will be the 550i GT, which will be powered by the twin-turbo, 4.4-litre V8. This engine produces 300kW of power, 609Nm of torque and promises to propel the 550i GT from a standing start to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds.

This engine will be paired with a brand new eight-speed automatic transmission, cop that Lexus, for improved efficiency during those blasts along the autobahn.

The driver will have the choice of three dynamic settings, normal, sport and sport plus, that control the car’s shift characteristics, throttle response, level of steering assist and traction control.

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Another unique development for the 5 Series GT is the inclusion of a brake energy regeneration system.

Similar in approach to technology used with hybrid cars, this system uses an electronic clutch to engage or disengage the alternator as needed.

Under deceleration or braking, the alternator gets charged; when freewheeling, the alternator is disengaged, so it draws less power from the engine, thereby improving engine efficiency. The 5 Series GT is also equipped with a more powerful battery that needs charging less frequently.

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While I’m not 100 per cent convinced that I want a four-door coupe over a sedan or a wagon, the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo does represent an interesting third choice.

In person, the car is far less awkward looking than pictures would indicate and the passenger cabin is certainly a step up from the regular 5 Series.

While pricing has not been released, the 5 Series GT will be more expensive than a comparably equipped 5 Series sedan, so only time will tell if this new shape resonates enough to demand such a premium.




  • Alan

    It should be good on the european roads and autobahn, but I doubt its any good on our shabby roads.

  • Yanzo

    all bmw interiors look the same. boring! and the rear is ugly too. nice face but ugly butt. if i was at a red light with one of those cars i’d be like “yo! your car looks ugly!”

  • Frontman

    The first time I saw this car I remembered a matchbox car I had…. BMC Pininfarina….. Kind of still reminds me of it
    {http://www.aronline.co.uk/index.htm?pinin1800f.htm}

    But this (imo) just looks all wrong. There seems to be no Cohesiveness to the design. Bits seem to be added at the last minute and the lines seem as thought they followed teh sketch on the napkin a little too closely. (please note that these observations are from photos only so real life may be different)

  • topdog

    Listern to all the crap the pr team to out will you.This is nothing more than a hatch back just like the japs have been doing for decades.bmw put out a hatch back then try telling us its some new thing and call it some thing other.Sure it may be good car with great dynamics and luxury and best in its class but its still a hatch back simple as that

  • Rick

    Awkward looking – it’s just plain ugly from the rear and from side on!

    I’m with Top dog it’s just a Hatchback! (ugly one at that!)

  • Tom

    So true TopDog, its just like my old 323 liftback, hardly innovative. Having said that, it does seem a sound car, I don’t think it looks hideous (though I’ve always liked liftbacks, good to see them surging back into popularity).

  • NacaYoda

    I think this is MUCH prettier than the Porsche and Austin Martin 4-door monstrosities of late. There’s no obvious “beak” protruding out from the base of the winscreen on this BMW. I’d take the normal Wagon, personally, but horses for courses.

  • rym

    I just believe the amount of ugly cars that BMW is churning out.

    It looks so wrong and it is just found wanting for inspiration.

    There’s only so much a badge will take you… I might be wrong, look at how many people lapped up the 320i, a car that is so underwhelming in aesthetics and drivability. The freshened up 09 version is slightly better but before this update, it was a serious eyesore.

    After years of BMW membership, their cars in the last 8 years has totally lost me. Even the X1 has been smashed with an ugly stick.

  • Captain Mainwaring

    Can’t really add much more. This thing is truly ugly – like BMW continually has to remind the world that they exist by giving us a never-ending stream of dross.
    A maker I used to rate highly, but not any more (apart from some of their engines).

  • Alex

    I think it’s a perfectly nice car until you get to the back. It’s just too square and heavy looking; like it’s accommodating a hard top in there. They probably could have sacrificed about ten litres of luggage capacity and made it look much prettier.
    I do like the concept. It’s classier than an X5 and it means there might be a few less SUVs around town so I say why not?
    I am a little confused by the fact that BMW are also planning a 3 Series GT after all the negative feedback but I suppose that’s their business. I’d rather see a supercar, a proper, less bloated, soft top roadster and a bigger SUV rather than incarnation after incarnation of hatchback, but I can’t do anything about that so I’ll just hope they get back to doing desirable cars again soon. Cars that compete with current segments rather than create pointless new ones.

  • http://Caradvice.com.au Baddass

    I won’t go into details about my opinion of the car, cos it is all mentioned above. But i would like it if the journalist responsible for writing the article put their personal opinion into it. As far as I can see, the writing in this usual test drives resemble something you would find in a BMW brochure. A solution can be as simple as saying you like the grille, or the roof line is too flat. the more controversial the better! C’mon Caradvice give us something to discuss!

  • http://www.tuneyoursaab.com Tony

    Hmmm. Saab were doing great hatch backs more for many years commencing some 30+ years ago. Nothing new here but I’m sure the BMW PR machine is in overdrive on this model. Also, I have to say this car looks very pedestrian in design. From certain angles it looks like a Rover, other angles a Hyundai. Frankly, terrible design from BMW. What I don’t get, is why call this car a GT. A GT is usually a high performance, large engined, 2 or 4 door and great styling. Seems this car fails on all fronts!

  • Alex

    Tony, GT just stands for Grand Tourer. It doesn’t have anything to do with body style at all. The fact is that it would probably make a fine GT simply because of what will inevitably be a powerful engine, lots of interior space, comfort and quiet.

  • Bavarian Missile®™

    I will agree and say it aint too pretty and BMW have become the ultimate marketing machine, putting out more new models faster than anyone else ……………but

    It seems they still are creating cars people want and other manufacturers are wanting a piece of the pie too.

    Look at Audi they to are bringing out their own version to compete against this now,just as bloody ugly too

    http://www.autoincar.com/audi-release-a5-sportback-teaser-compete-to-bmw-5-series-gt/

    and Lexus have decided to appeal to the younger market they must make a 1 series competitor……ahhhhhh well someone has to take the lead, even if this rear end is a horrid sight to follow,its interior is just so damn fine! :P

  • Mumble Duck

    I agree with Captain Mainwaring. This is just plain Ugly. Why have BMW been designing ugly cars (mainly SUV’s)?????????????

  • Shak

    Another answer to a question nobody asked from BMW. This may have an awesome interior, and subtle looks, but it is and always will be a big hatch.

  • Gilly

    MEGAFUGLY!!!
    Say no more! But its uglier sibling the X6 (Ssangyong Acyton copy)is selling well for unknown reasons.

    • michael

      let’s be honest BMW’s bold designs always take a little time to get used too, hence them have such long period between updates and new models. It generally takes 12 – 24 months to finally appreciate the design. Lets take the x3 for example, peaking in sales towards the end of its replacement, and I’m sure the z4 wasn’t far behind. Latest X5 has hardly got a 6month waiting list like previous model, but popularity is considerably growing. I take my hat of to BMW for being a leader in design, rather than one of the mobs that takes the safe road, mimicking others great designs once proven successful.

  • Wheelnut®™

    Despite the fact that it looks relatively ugly [why didn't they just lower the ride height of the X6M?] it has a similar double-action tailgate to the Skoda Superb – and that on its own could be enough for those looking for a bit of individuality from the prestige luxury brands

    Who as BM illuded to are already copying them [with the Audi Sportback] which means its only a matter of time before Lexus do likewise

  • bruuummm

    It’s one incredible car! very very nice!

    http://bruuummm.blogspot.com/

  • Motorhead

    I guess BMW thought Saab has had the large ugly hatchback market to itself for too long.

  • PROJET – L

    Frontman
    That car became the Citroen CX essentially.

    In regards to this BMW, Renault did this 10 years ago with the Vel Satis didn’t they?
    I reckon the Vel Satis actually looks better.
    I mean if you are gonna go weird and left field you may as well go fully bonkers.

    BMW = fail.

  • booter

    pity the big glass roof is ruined by the cross bar,

  • The Realist

    Beautiful interior – but from photos I don’t like the exterior at all.

    But it does provide a few design cues as to the next generation 5 series.

    There is obviously a market for this, but I wish they would have produced an M3 CSL or M7!

  • Jimmy

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. It looks like a Chrysler Sebring’s slightly better looking cousin.

    It looks awkward, overdone, cumbersome, fussy, and ugly. Being a beamer, I’m sure it handles and drives brilliantly, and the finish is superb, but for me, the look of this thing far outweighs any such benefits.

    Nup. All bad.

  • Forza M

    Audi, just keep doing what your doing, because if Bavaria motors keeps drumming up this rubbish you will end up being the number one premium brand in this country.

  • goose foot

    Journalists who don’t write favorable reviews don’t get invited back to get toted around in future luxury models, so why on earth can they be expected to write a bad review about this car?

    Think of ‘independent’ motoring journalists as an extension of the marketing arm of the large car manufacturers…

  • goose foot

    My cynicism about product journalists aside, you’re all wrong. I think the concept is fantastic. I would get one if I was in the market to buy next year. Better than a cumbersome X5, the ridiculously microniched and relatively uncomfortable X6, would never drive a wagon, the traditional 5 series is too boring and won’t take my road bike in the back without silly racks, and I don’t want to lose my licence to another stupid sports car given the police state we live in.

    The 5-series GT also looks great – both modern and refined. Well done BMW.

  • http://m5videoguide.com/blog Maria Victoria Beltran

    This powerful engine produces 300kW of power, 609Nm of torque and is expected to propel the 550i GT from a standing start to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds. That sounds fantastic.