From £44,535
Range-topper offers impressive performance, but it isn't sporty

Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo
Despite its name, the 5 Series GT shares 7 Series underpinnings

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What is it?

This is the car that you never knew you needed, unless you’ve always hankered after a 5 Series saloon, estate and X5 all rolled into one. The 5 Series GT has, according to BMW, no direct competitors and if you think the 535 petrol and 530 diesel versions are niche products, then this range-topping 550 should be even more exclusive.

What it amounts to is a halfway house between executive car and SUV. It is 8cm higher than most saloons, with a coupe-like roofline and side window graphic, X5 rear headroom and 7 Series legroom, but with a twin-turbocharged V8 engine mounted in the front.

It’s a heady mixture, and the bottom line is that it partly skirts around the “social acceptability” issue that clings on to large SUVs. The V8 is mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that actually weighs less than the previous six-cog auto, and all that power is (perhaps unusually, considering the mild SUV styling) channeled through the two 19-inch wheels at the back of the car. Four-wheel drive is not an option.

What’s it like?

In terms of comfort and space, the 5 Series GT nails it. Impressively for a BMW, there is a very high level of standard kit, with items like the panoramic roof and leather seats all thrown in. The car we drove was in Executive trim, which curiously offers fewer seats for about two grand more. At least the rear X6-style chairs are electrically operated.

The 550 has the potential to be the most GT-like of the 5 Series GT range. As has been proved with cars like the X6 and X5, BMW has a knack of defying physics with big SUVs. In many ways it has worked its magic with the 550i.

Under the bonnet is the same 402bhp V8 as in the X6 xDrive50i. It has a healthy 443lb ft from 1750rpm, meaning plenty of low-end grunt. It's best described as deceptively quick; the numbers on the head-up display always register far higher than you expect, and the V8 is silky smooth all the way through to the red line.

In fact, the engine and gearbox are a sublime combination, delivering both a mix of linear shove and almost seamless shifts. It would be even more impressive if the eight-cylinder soundtrack were slightly more audible, but BMW has clearly worked towards cabin refinement, which is top drawer

There’s no denying that, at over two tonnes, the GT is a big car and this is constantly evident in the amount of inertia involved in moving it. It is not the most incisive drive, never feeling particularly agile, and it's more suited to flowing through bends rather than attacking them.

With the standard ‘Drive Dynamic Control’ in comfort mode the GT wafts along, but put it in Sport or Sport+ and the throttle, steering, suspension and gearchange speed are all sharpened. The car becomes tauter but the ride, especially on the bumpy Scottish backroads where we tested the car, becomes too harsh to make it a mile-munching GT.

The overall exerience is similar to that in an SUV like the X5 or X6; the levels of capability are deeply impressive for this size of car but are never that close to anything you would call truly sporty.

Should I buy one?

If you want an X6 but can’t stand the thought of buying one, then absolutely. Which means BMW has pretty much achieved what it set out to do with the 5 Series GT.

Oliver Stallwood

Join the debate

Comments
18

23 October 2009

In Panzer color in addition...

24 October 2009

Saw one for the first time today. Looked like a bug-eyed garden shed on wheels.

24 October 2009

As a 530d Touring driver I made the trek to my local BMW dealer tonight with my wife and son to determine for myself has BMW pulled a rabbit out of a hat with this coupe/touring/saloon. Having previously had a 530d saloon and 2 tourings I was curious. Is it a useful combination or a gimmick? Whilst I didn't drive it it seems well executed and exceptionally comfortable. My son loved the separate air conditioning in the back and my wife liked its looks and the slightly higher seating position. Looks much better in the flesh than in the media. Downsides? The stupid boot design seemed too small an opening to be useful in saloon mode. Nowhere near as useful as the glass window on the Touring. The big question will I buy one? As i sit here tonight it was 3-0 for the GT!

24 October 2009

Don't hate me but... the more I read, the more I like it. Everyone keeps saying how comfortable it is. A comfortable BMW? Like a reliable Audi or beautiful Ssangyong? It needs a closer look!

24 October 2009

[quote ThwartedEfforts]Don't hate me but... the more I read, the more I like it. Everyone keeps saying how comfortable it is. A comfortable BMW? Like a reliable Audi or beautiful Ssangyong? It needs a closer look![/quote]

I KNEW you'd crack sooner or later. :-)

Seriously though, I just don't get some of the comments in the review. Take this: "...the levels of capability are deeply impressive for this size of car but are never that close to anything you would call truly sporty..."

Well, I'd have to ask the reviewer, who suggested that call the 5-sereis GT should be called "truly sporty"? Why would it be? We are not talking M6 here, are we? BMW themselves, have been at pains to state that this car is meant to be a roomy and comfortable cross over hatch GT and have never promoted this car as "truly sporty". Not every car has to be "truly sporty", Mr. Stallwood. Some people prefer a refined, smooth riding and roomy car, which only needs to handle competently enough for their needs.

24 October 2009

[quote Overdrive]BMW themselves, have been at pains to state that this car is meant to be a roomy and comfortable cross over hatch GT and have never promoted this car as "truly sporty". Not every car has to be "truly sporty", Mr. Stallwood. Some people prefer a refined, smooth riding and roomy car, which only needs to handle competently enough for their needs.[/quote] True enough, but my company C5 is refined, smooth riding and roomy. More so than the 5 series GT, I'll wager. In which case, how can this hideous looking BMW be a member of the 'Ultimate Driving Machine" family?

24 October 2009

[quote DavidMR]

...my company C5 is refined, smooth riding and roomy. More so than the 5 series GT, I'll wager....[/quote]

Ah, maybe so, but is it "truly sporty"? :-)

24 October 2009

A few years ago I ran a company Toyota Avensis Hatch, higher than normal seating, huge amounts of space, massive hatch boot, comfortable ride, 40 mpg from the petrol and very safe. Okay it was dull as hell but other than making it a bit bigger, rear wheel drive and a BMW I cant see the difference. How on earth is this a new niche? The Toyota was 15 grand new.

24 October 2009

bmw again bringing out a strange car, when will bmw learn. But if you love the GT then I guess it could be a great car. Would not say no if someone said would you like one.

[url=http://www.dogmall.co.uk/dog-leads/dog-training-leads/][img]http://www.d...

25 October 2009

I went to look at one of these yesterday. Bit out of my price bracket but if it was perfect then what the hell. I thought it was huge, the wheels looked vast. The gas springs on the rear door look like they are holding up a lot of weight. I got the impression that they just added things to make it fulfil all its objectives, rather than compromising. So it ends up being massive and (from my point of view) impractical. I guess it's perfect for some people though. Maybe I'm too fussy but at £40k it has to be good. Also looked at the A5 Sportback but not for me either. They say it's a coupe with more doors and to be fair they're right. Not much fun in the back though with my head pressing on the roof. I want to buy a top notch hatchback but there doesn't seem to be anything. Imagine a 4 door Celica with more room in the back and a comfy ride. Any ideas?

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