Too much of a compromise
If the X6 and the 5 Series should give birth to a child, it would without a doubt resemble the 5 Series Gran Turismo. This design is unique, which may or may not be a good thing to prospective buyers. Yet there are practical benefits, as it combines utility vehicle features with sedan–like driving fun. But up to now, the style sis not translate into sales.
In the place of a conventional rear luggage compartment, you have a tailgate that operates in two ways. First, the traditional fashion, with a large tailgate that increases luggage space to 1,700 litres with the seats folded down. The other features a button that opens a trunk with 440 or 590 litres of space, depending on the position of the rear seats. Also, it should be noted that the owner can configure the opening height of the tailgate, for example, to ensure it won’t bump into the rafters of your garage. The Gran Turismo, despite its imposing size, displays a stretched roofline and its frameless windows contribute to a refined look. Its overall appearance is more to a short-legged X6 than a 5 Series wagon. Lovers of past BMW models will also be delighted to discover that the grille nostrils are (slightly) leaning forward, thus bringing back the famous “shark nose” from the seventies.
An Interior That Will Spark Interest
The driving position is exactly halfway between the ones of the 5 Series and of an X5. It aims to help access to a car seat, and provide a dominating view of the road, without anyone having to “climb” into the vehicle. Once inside, we realize that this Gran Turismo has drawn its inspiration from the 7 Series. A refined instrument cluster, horizontal lines, Black Panel technology: stylish and luxurious, without the sport look.
The pièce de résistance is in the back. BMW has answered its critics that it too often short-changed rear seat passengers of stretch out space. Legroom is the same as in the 7 Series, and the roof panel is identical to the one in an X5. Moreover, the seats slide individually over 10 cm and the backs are adjustable – a real limousine. Furthermore, BMW reinforced its sedan-like personality with a partition installed behind the seats that ensures acoustic and climatic isolation between passengers and the luggage compartment. A button enables the driver to open only the trunk to carry small objects; another activates the entire tailgate to load large items.
Two Motors beneath the Hood
For our first meeting in Portugal, BMW proposed a choice of two engines: 530d and 535i. Ironically, the first model that will arrive at dealers is the 550i V8 TwinPower Turbo of 4.4 litres and 400 horsepower. However, this model was not present at the official launch. Thus, we started our day driving the 535i. All model variants are equipped with the eight-speed automatic transmission from the 760i V12. Smoothness, responsiveness and smart operation fit perfectly with the car‘s personality.
Our test model was also equipped with the “Integral Active Steering” option that acts on steering the rear wheels depending on speed: up to 2.50 degrees in the opposite direction as the front wheels at low speeds, then in the same direction as the front wheels at high speeds.
Three hundred horsepower make the 535i perform really well, but it would be exaggerating to qualify it as a sports car. The fact that it weighs two tonnes when empty is a serious handicap for adrenaline rushes. But BMW has more than one trick up their sleeve. Among the other interesting options, there is the “Adaptive Drive” system that helps both handling and comfort by continuously adjusting the damping rates as well as the stabilizer settings. Four modes are available: Comfort, Normal, Sport or Sport+. This system mitigates the effects of its considerable weight, and makes this BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo drive impressively, even when the rhythm accelerates.
That being said, you can also fully take advantage of the comfort, the excellent soundproofing, the wide panorama glass roof and all the latest technologies at a more reasonable pace. If you have the patience to play with the iDrive system, you can also individually adjust the suspension, the damping and the gearbox ratios, or leave it all to the integrated system. Please note that in Sport and Sport+ modes, you will lose the top gears of the eight-speed automatic transmission for more energy and fuel consumption.
BMW has not promised to offer the excellent 3.0-litre diesel engine generating 245 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque from 1,750 rpm in North America. Despite the “mastodontic” weight of the car, it is capable of propelling the Gran Turismo to 240 km/h, and from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds. But the most surprising are the consumption values that are related to it: 6.5 L/100 km on average, according to BMW. We were able to maintain it below the 7 litres/100 kilometres mark during our afternoon with it. This engine already exists in the X5 and the 335d, thus it would be easy to bring it beneath the hood of the Gran Turismo, it is the American market that will decide. However, when looking at the lack of enthusiasm for these two models in the United States, chances are thin for now.
Avant-garde, fancy and very pleasant to drive, the new Gran Turismo lays the basis for what will be the next generation of the 5 Series. The only problem is the appeal. This car is like a hide-a-bed. The wagon lover find it ugly and nor purposefull enough and the sedan lover, will buy the sedan. Too much of a compromise te be really interesting. It has a lot of quality, but falls in a no man's land when it comes to finding a target buyer.
• (535i GT)
L6 3,0 L turbo DOHC, 300 hp @ 6250 rpm
Torque : 300 ft-pi from 1200 to 5000 rpm
Gearbox : 8 speed automatic
0-100 km/h 6,1 s
Top Speed : 240 km/h (limited)
Fuel economy : 9,4 liters /100 km
• (550i GT)
V8 4,4 l biturbo DOHC, 400 hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque 450 ft-pi from 1750 to 4500 rpm
Boîte de vitesses automatique à 8 rapports avec
Gearbox : 8 speed automatic
0-100 km/h 5,3 s
Top Speed : 240 km/h (limited)
Fuel economy : 11,9 liters /100 km
• Other componants
Active safety : ABS, EBD, ESP, ESC
Suspension (front/rear) independant
Brakes (front/rear) discs
Steerring : rack and pinion
Tires : 535i P245/50R18 option 535i/ de série 550i P245/45R19 (fr.) P275/40R19 (re.) option 550i P245/40R20 (fr.) P275/35R20
Wheelbase : 3070 mm
Leng 5000 mm
Width 1901 mm
Height : 1559 mm
Curb weight : 535i 2135 kg 550i 2295 kg
Turning radius 12,2 m
Trunk GT 440 l, 1700 l (seats down)
Fuel Tank 70 L
535 : 69 900$
550 : 79 900$