This is the BMW 5-series GT, with which BMW is seeking to bring the elevated seating appeal and inherent packaging of a modern day SUV to its 5-series line-up.
Previewed as a concept car at the Geneva motor show in March, the new five seater has now been unveiled as a production car with only detailed modifications.
The addition of the GT will extend the 5-series line-up to three models for the first time in its 37 year history, selling alongside the more traditional saloon and touring models.
With its prominent kidney grille the 5-series GT couldn’t be mistaken for anything but a BMW. However, its styling and detailing is far less flamboyant than what we have become used to seeing from BMW.
The lower half of the body incorporates a look similar to the new 7-series with taut surfacing and prominent swage line running from the head lamps through to the leading edge of the tail lamps. But above the waistline there are clear visual similarities with the X6, including its side window graphic and plunging rear window.
In a first for a four door BMW, the doors are frameless to increase the aperture.
At the rear is the two-piece boot lid, which can open in two ways; porthole style, with a small opening underneath the rear window, or in a more conventional way in which the complete rear windows lifts.
Unlike today’s 5-series, with its aluminium front end and a steel structure from the A-pillars back, the 5-series GT’s frame and chassis is all steel.
Yet despite using aluminium for the bonnet, front spring struts and doors, the kerb weight of the entry-level 535i GT is 1940kg – over 300kg more than a 540i saloon.
At 4998mm long, 1901mm wide and 1559mm tall, the 5-series GT is 158mm longer, 61mm wider and 94mm higher than today’s 5-series saloon. The wheelbase is 180mm longer, too.
Inside the 5-series GT has a similar amount of room to the larger 7-series saloon. Unlike the concept, which had four seats, the production version gets five seats as standard with the option of two individual rear seats. Sliding rear seats are standard.
There is also a separate folding bulkhead partition to help isolate noise from the rear end. Boot capacity is 440 litres, increasing to 590 litres when the rear seats are pushed all the way forward and the bulkhead partition is removed. Folding the rear seats down liberates a further 1110 litres, creating 1700 litres of volume.
There will only be three engine choices (the 5-series range has ten) Among them is a new twin turbo 3.0-litre petrol six-cylinder unit with direct injection. Power and torque are the same as the current twin turbo six, at 306bhp and 295lb ft, but all the torque is now available from 1200rpm. That helps to give the 535i GT a respectable 0-62mph time of 6.5sec, with fuel consumption of 31.7mpg and a 209g/km of CO2.
Above that is the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 in the 550i GT. With 407bhp and 442lb ft, it manages 0-62mph in 5.5sec but it’s unlikely to be popular in Europe due to its 25.2mpg fuel consumption and 263 g/km of CO2.
More suited to European tastes is the single diesel – BMW’s latest 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit with 245bhp and 398lb ft of torque in the 530i GT. It manages 0-62mph in 6.9sec and a 149mph top speed along with 43.5mpg and 173g/km.
All three engines come with BMW’s new eight speed automatic gearbox and BMW is developing four-wheel drive versions for launch in 2011.
The 5-series GT uses modified 7-series underpinnings, with a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension with air springs. While the earlier concept rolled on imposing 21-inch wheels, production versions will get either 18-inch or 19-inch wheels.
Buyers will be able to choose between a standard hydraulic steering or an advanced rear wheel steer system like the 7-series’, for improved manoeuvrability.
Other options include BMW’s Adaptive Drive system which links electronically controlled dampers featuring adjustment of both the inbound and rebound strokes with active anti roll stabilisation for added body control and a reduction in pitch.
UK prices are expected to start from around £40,000.