The 5 Series Gran Turismo is an interesting concept, but the execution is flawed

Find Used BMW 5 Series GT 2009-2017 review deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Used car deals
From £37,995
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

Simplicity in car manufacturing is gone, and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is proof of this. Where BMW used to produce only executive saloons, now it also offers SUVs (in whatever size sir would like), including a couple that thinks they're a coupé.

And the BMW 5 Series GT, is a saloon-cum-coupé-cum-SUV, offering the raised driving position but without the conspicuous looks and all-wheel drive, the versatility of a hatchback and the space of a full-size saloon.

The GT's boot lid offers saloon or hatchback openings

To confuse matters further, the GT has the same wheelbase as a BMW 7 Series, with which it shares suspension components, but is badged (and priced) as a 5 Series... However, this may be the case no longer with BMW clearly looking to rectify a few wrongs by making the 2018 car a BMW 6 Series GT - therefore confirming the disappointments that the 5 GT and the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé.

The BMW 5 Series GT has no direct ancestry, but the Z22 concept provides proof that the idea has been in existence for more than a decade.

Revealed at the 2000 Frankfurt show, the Z22 combined elements from different classes of car to create plentiful interior space in a compact body.

The Z22 was designed to offer the cabin space of a 5 Series in a car the length of a BMW 3 Series, and was based on a 7 Series wheelbase. So does the 5 Series GT live up to that car’s ethos?



BMW 5 Series GT rear

The first time you see a BMW 5 Series GT in the metal, BMW’s objective with this car becomes clear. From the front it has the road presence of a BMW BMW X6 (toned down a little for our more environmentally conscious times) and at the back the swoopiness of a coupé. Whether anything with four doors and an elevated ride height can be likened to a traditional coupé is debatable. As is the overall success of the styling, which we found split opinion.

What is clear, though, is that even despite its unusual proportions the GT is unmistakably a BMW. The kidney grille is canted forward at the front end, so that the upper edge forms the foremost part of the car – a nod to the most memorable design aspect of many historic BMWs.

Frameless windows look great but on our test car the doors needed slamming to get the windows to seal

The four distinctive, round ‘angel eye’ headlamps are lit by LEDs. Adaptive xenon lights and an automatic main beam are a four-figure cost option.

The ‘Gran Turismo’ tag tells you a lot about the car’s aspirations, BMW claiming it offers the comfort and space required for long-distance touring. The rear cabin, according to BMW, provides the leg room of a BMW 7 Series and head room of an X6, while the luggage compartment offers the flexibility of a twin-boot saloon/hatch opening arrangement, like that of the Skoda Superb.

You’ll get 18-inch alloy wheels as standard, although our test car came on 20-inch double-spoke alloys that cost over £2000 as an option. They didn’t help ride comfort either.

The door handles on the GT come from the 7 Series parts bin and are fitted neatly into the sharp crease that runs the length of the car. However, pulling the one on the driver’s door does reveal unsightly metal beneath.


BMW 5 Series GT interior

Classy design touches leave you in no doubt that this BMW 5 Series GT is a luxury car. A backlit matt silver insert that runs the width of the dash and a blank, satin black fascia that lights up with crisp digital dials supplement the familiar, uncluttered BMW dash design. A standard panoramic sunroof adds to the high-class ambience.

The 5 Series GT continues to impress when viewed from the rear seats, where there is leg room to rival the more expensive BMW 7 Series, if slightly less head room due to the sweeping, coupé-like roofline. It is also worth noting that although seatbelts are provided for three rear passengers, the middle seat is good for only occasional use.

Excellent front seats are welcomingly squashy, but also proved supportive on long journeys

Sit in any other seat, though, and the GT is an exceptionally comfortable and aesthetically pleasing place to spend time, rivaling plenty of cars from higher classes.

The driving position is excellent, too, with the seat offering a wide range of adjustment. Visibility isn’t great, though; it’s difficult to judge where the extremities of the car are, due to its design and size, and wide D-pillars and a narrow rear windscreen limit visibility for lane changes.

For a car that is longer than a Land Rover Discovery to offer just 440 litres of boot capacity with the seats up is less-than impressive, and the dual boot opening is also a little limited in terms of practicality. The vast tailgate is useful enough, but the curving roofline will limit carrying capacity and the saloon opening reveals a letterbox-style slot that you can’t see into unless you bend down to just above bumper level.

Still, the rear seats fold flat with one pull of the same handle that allows them to be reclined, freeing up a reasonable 1700 litres of load space.

As for the levels of equipment that adorn the 5 Series Gran Turismo, there are three main trims to choose from, however with an extensive options list making it your own is easily done. The entry-level SE models come with 18in alloy wheels, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, plus an auto tailgate, while inside there is a leather upholstery, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, manually adjustable rear seats, panoramic sunroof and dual-zone climate control. All BMW's come with the brilliant iDrive infotainment system, with the 520d coming with BMW's Navigation system, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB interface, while the 530d comes with the Professional Media system and a touch-sensitive iDrive controller.

Upgrade to the Luxury model and you'll find numerous exclusive touches and details with more chrome accents, while all the GTs come with BMW's Professional Media iDrive system as standard. The range-topping M Sport gets, unsurprisingly, a collection of sporting details, with M Performance decals, alloy wheels shod in runflat tyres, sports suspension and sports seats all included in the package.


BMW 5 Series GT side profile

The BMW 5 Series GT range comprises two petrol options – the 535i and 550i – and three oilburners 520d, 530d and 535d. The 550i has under the bonnet the same 444bhp V8 as in the X6 xDrive50i. It has a healthy 479lb ft of torque from 2000rpm, 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.

The 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine installed in the 535i was BMW’s first engine to combine high-precision direct injection with both mechanically driven variable valve timing and lift (Vanos and Valvetronic in BMW-speak) and a twin-scroll turbocharger.

Out of all the gearbox modes, the standard Drive setting is best

Even though it’s only got one turbo, the new engine slots in where Munich’s twin-turbo petrol six might have in this particular model range, producing 302bhp and an incredibly accessible 295lb ft or torque, available all the way from 1200rpm to 5000rpm. It feels game, precise and surprisingly fast for a two-tonner; 62mph comes up in a hot hatch-besting 6.3sec. There’s abundant torque throughout almost all of the usable rev range, and urgent performance on offer whenever you need it.

Raw figures (0-60mph in 6.3sec and 0-100mph in 17.7sec) understate how effortlessly the 530d GT picks up speed in everyday situations. Maximum torque is available anywhere between 1750 and 3000rpm, an operating range that is easy to maintain with eight forward ratios.

And such are the adhesive qualities of the 275/35 rear tyres fitted to our particular GT (wearing those optional 20-inch wheels) that there is little drama involved with transmitting 398lb ft of torque to the road. Other than its performance, BMW’s 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel also impresses with exceptional refinement. Other than moments of full throttle, the engine note is just a distant, unobtrusive hum.

The 535d, meanwhile, serves up 309bhp at 4400rpm and a frankly monstrous 465lb ft from 1500rpm, while propping up the 5 Series GT range a four-cylinder 2.0-litre unit which produces 181bhp and 280lb ft of torque from 1750rpm, which makes its gutsy enough to lug around the big GT

ZF’s eight-speed gearbox, which is fitted as standard across the range, is difficult to fault, the gearshifts smooth and for the most part unnoticeable. There is a variety of different gearbox modes, accessible either by moving the gearlever to the left to select Sport mode or by switching Dynamic Drive to Sport or Sport+, but in truth Drive offers the best combination of poise and refinement.

You can take control of the gearshifts by moving the selector forward for downshifts and backwards for upshifts, although at the extreme the gearbox will kick down and shift up as required. If there is a criticism of the power delivery, it is that from rest and at slow speeds the throttle response is very sensitive.

Responsibility for stopping the big GT rests on 348mm front discs and 345mm rear discs (all ventilated), which are more than up to the job at road speeds, stopping the car from 70mph in 45.4m in the dry and just 49.2m in the wet. We do, however, have a small grumble with the electronic handbrake, in that it does not automatically disengage when pulling off.


BMW 5 Series GT cornering

Although our test car, like all BMW 5 Series GTs, came with Dynamic Drive, it did without BMW's optional Active Drive and Active Steer. As a consequence, toggling through Normal to Sport+ does nothing to affect the GT’s dynamic behaviour beyond adjusting the steering weight.

It did, however, come with 20-inch wheels, a £2430 option over the standard 18-inch alloys. Whether it is these that are to blame for the GT’s dismal low-speed ride is something we have so far been unable to verify. But if a car is designed to look its best with large wheels (as is the case here) then it should be engineered to work with them fitted.

Despite the broad tyres, the GT stops very well in wet conditions

The issue is not that the car is deflected by potholes and sharp edges, but how intrusive the impact becomes. Some bumps are neutralised well, but every now and then the rear suspension seemingly gives up, sending a shock crashing through the cabin. Although there aren’t any excuses for the ride, it might be slightly more understandable if the GT proved an exceptional drive. It doesn’t.

Our overriding criticism is that while the GT has its strengths, it doesn’t deliver a consistent, rounded dynamic experience. Moving away from rest it feels strangely un-BMW-like, the steering overly assisted and oddly unresponsive. Turn into a side street and although the roll rate is low, the overall feeling is of imprecision, doing nothing to hide the GT’s dimensions.

At higher speeds the steering weights up, but still there is little feel, meaning that although you sense the GT’s grip and agility through its ability to change direction with minimal fuss, you feel somewhat disconnected from the experience. In truth the GT is at its happiest on the motorway, where it feels planted and stable without being cumbersome.


BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

The BMW 5 Series GT is an excellent ownership proposition. For roughly the same initial cost as a high-spec 530d Touring you get a far superior interior and vastly more cabin space plus the eight-speed auto.

A high standard spec should also help keep the initial buying expenses down, too. Running costs will be good for business or customer buyers alike; the 530d model offers combined economy of 36.1mpg and CO2 emissions of just 173g/km, promising low tax and fuel bills for a car of this persuasion, while residual values are also acceptable, if nothing unusual for a BMW. If you are looking for low emissions and better economy, the 520d is the best option with a combined output of around 51mpg and produces 149g/km of carbon dioxide.

Petrol options are hard to justify but deliver amazing refinement

The other oil-burner is the more potent 535d, which offers more pace with only a minor hit in fuel economy and CO2 emissions; indeed, at 175g/km, it falls into the same VED band as the 530d.

As you might expect, the petrol options are hard to recommend; the 535i will struggle to get much beyond 25mpg in real-world use, and CO2 emissions of 209g/km ramp up the tax implications.

The 550i, meanwhile, gets BMW’s V8, with bags of power and torque. But you’ll be lucky to see much beyond 20mpg, and 263g/km of CO2 means you should file it under ‘Russian empresarios only’.


3.5 star BMW 5 Series GT

The BMW 5 Series GT is a difficult car to put into context, because it is one of a kind. The concept of a versatile five-door luxury car is not without appeal, even if it may prove to be the answer to a question no one has yet asked.

BMW does deserve some credit for delivering it at all; there’s no doubt that it is a different proposition from both. All this speaks volumes about the decision to axe the 5GT and reinvent it as the 6 Series Gran Turismo as to avoid tarnishing the new model any further.

The Rolls-Royce Ghost uses the same eight-speed auto as the BMW 5 Series

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

BMW 5 Series GT 2009-2017 First drives