From £47,835
Chassis and trim revisions make sense of BMW’s mixed-up 5-series GT luxury crossover

What is it?

The latest version of a car that represents a bit of a commercial disaster for BMW: the 5-series Gran Turismo. This luxury crossover is currently failing to meet sales targets all over the world. In the North American market, pitched as a replacement for the 5-series Touring, it has caused customers to walk away from the BMW brand in droves. And in the UK, the car remains a rarer find than a satisfied public servant.

In an attempt to stir up interest, BMW GB has turned to that reliable old chestnut – an M Sport specification upgrade – for this high-rise four-seater heavyweight. The new edition comes with an aerodynamic bodykit, M Sport suspension settings, some M Sport equipment and trim additions, and – thanks to the 5 GT’s raised ride height – the smallest-looking 19in alloy wheels we’ve come across in quite some time.

What’s it like?

The main conceit of the 5 GT’s positioning remains a broadly convincing one, which falls down ever-so-slightly in the detail. This is a very refined and luxurious car for up to four passengers, with reclining rear chairs that provide as much legroom as a full-sized limousine, and plenty of headroom too. Its raised ride height makes getting in and out that bit easier than it might be, although it does little for visibility.

Meanwhile, that hatchback rear-end provides easy access to the boot, but only when fully opened; the halfway-house chute opening is useful only when loading small items in confined parking spaces. Perhaps most disappointing of all, once the hatchback is open, you’ll find the boot is only averagely accommodating; as big as a middle-sized saloon’s, but no bigger.

Still, the M Sport chassis is well worth the premium. It brings better damping and roll control into the 5 GT’s handling without compromising its quiet, pliant ride.

Our 530d test car had higher grip levels and crisper dynamic responses than the standard car. With ‘Sport’ mode selected on the Drive Performance Control, it was also a more composed backroad machine; still not particularly enticing or engaging to drive, but a more competent car allthesame, with a powerful, efficient and refined six cylinder diesel powertrain.

At this point we’d usually add a caveat about BMW’s optional Adaptive Drive package, without which the 5 GT makes do with passive dampers and conventional anti-roll bars – and in our experience is a much less agreeable car dynamically. But BMW is currently giving away a free specification upgrade with the 5 GT that includes a head-up display, nappa leather, adaptive xenon headlights, soft close doors and Adaptive Drive.

And as long as they continue to do that, this will be a hard car to find significant fault with dynamically. In ‘Comfort’ mode, there’s a gentle, wafting gait to the GT’s primary ride that would do credit to a more traditional stretched limo, as well as excellent low-speed bump absorption. Should you up the pace and get tired of the car’s slightly wallowy body control, stouter damping is just a flick of a toggle switch away. While it’s true that no single mode quite delivers the ideal ‘automatic’ adaptive chassis set-up of, say, a Jaguar XJ or a Range Rover Sport, you can normally find an acceptable setting for most situations with a little experimentation.

Should I buy one?

Loaded with all of that free kit, and fairly effectively combining luxurious rear cabin space and hatchback-derived practicality, the 5-series Gran Turismo has a great deal going for it. Nearly three years after launch, you could say the car has reached maturity. For those who like the idea of a 5-series saloon with a bit extra – but who, for some reason, don’t like the idea of a 5-series Touring – we’d say now’s the time to buy.

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But the truth is, that’s probably not much of a target audience. While it may now deserve better, this car is likely to continue to be left on the shelf – by 5-series buyers who just don’t see it as a desirable step up on the model ladder, and by 7-series buyers who aren’t prepared to accept what they see as a ‘trade down’.

BMW 530d GT M-Sport

Price: £48,880; Top speed: 149mph; 0-62mph: 6.9sec; Economy: 43.5mpg; Co2: 173g/km; Kerbweight: 2035kg; Engine type, cc: 6 cyls in line, 2993cc, turbodiesel; Power: 242bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 398lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
BigAlWoods 17 January 2012

Re: BMW 530d GT M-Sport

Have just read the 36 posts on this car. Apart from wondering how many people posting have actually driven this model, no-one seems to have picked up on what good value these cars are as low-mileage demonstrators particularly. £34000-£35000 for 3-6 month well-specified examples is a real steal, compared to 5 series or 3 series versions.

thebaldgit 14 January 2012

Re: BMW 530d GT M-Sport

Just every so often a manufacturer is told by its customers no we do not want this ill thought out garbage.

Giom37 12 January 2012

Re: BMW 530d GT M-Sport

JamPal wrote:
However, I agree that the (Great Twit) is pointless. This hideous creation seems to fall between two stools and I simply cannot fathom what would ever bring some one to purchase one. The 5xx touring is a fabulous car, why would anyone see that, and then decide to buy a hooribly ugly and compromised version of it?

Out of 7 bilion people on earth, don't you think some tastes might differ from yours? That's pretty arrogant!