What is the BMW 5-series GT?
You can see what BMW was trying to do with the 5-series Gran Turismo (or GT for short) – combining the raised ride height of an SUV with the sporty looks of a coupé, in a package aimed at executives. The problem is that this design by committee has produced a vehicle that is a bizarre mix of its constituent parts. It’s a bit of a mongrel in terms of both form and function, losing all the great qualities of the 5-series saloon and gaining few of the bonuses a decent SUV should deliver.
In reality, despite that 5-series badge, the car shares its underpinnings with the larger BMW 7-series. This means the GT is a long car with a high driving position. As a result, the GT doesn’t have many obvious rivals, though certain luxury estates such as the Mercedes R-class could be an alternative, as could some premium SUVs.
BMW offers the car with three diesel and two petrol engines, in SE and M-Sport trim. The most frugal, the 520d, returns 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 139g/km from a silky-smooth 184bhp 2-litre diesel. Even this motor can propel the GT’s 2-ton bulk from 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds and to a top speed of 139mph. At the top end of the scale there’s the 550i petrol with 449bhp at its disposal and a claimed fuel consumption of 30.7mpg on the combined cycle. All the engines are class-leading, as you might expect from BMW, and the 530d – £49,760 in M Sport trim – proved quiet, refined and eager in our hands. For an extra £3,000 the 535d offers an extra 55bhp (313bhp) with almost exactly the same economy figures.
BMW offers the Gran Turismo with “Drive Performance Control”. This allows you to adjust throttle response, transmission mapping and steering assistance in progressively sportier settings including Eco Pro, Comfort+, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. But in all modes, the car feels unsettled. Take a corner in the more supple Comfort mode and the amount of body roll makes your confidence disappear in an instant. Sport and Sport+ stiffen things up but this car is far from fun to drive. Part of the problem may be down to the self-levelling air suspension which is fitted at the rear only.
This is the BMW 5-series Gran Turismo’s selling point, really, as it offers near limousine-like sumptuousness. All occupants enjoy plenty of legroom and since it’s a wide car, there’s a large amount of elbow room, too.
BMW’s much-admired build quality is at its best in the 5-series GT. Leather seats and wood trim are standard, while a particularly nice touch is the wave-like appearance of the armrests. M Sport trim offers more contoured seats at hip and shoulder level. A large panoramic roof is standard across the range. It floods the cabin with light, helping to create a sumptuous and relaxed environment, making the GT a very comfortable long-distance cruiser.
To make getting at the rear load area that little bit easier, it can be accessed as if it were the boot on a saloon or the tailgate on a hatchback, much like the Skoda Superb.
On the downside, the sloped roof line towards the rear not only reduces boot space – the apparently smaller 5-series Touring offers more room for luggage with the rear seats up – but also headroom. Taller folk will have plenty of legroom in the back but may have to crane their neck, which is unpleasant and a compromise you wouldn’t find in a dedicated SUV.
What to look out for
Even though there are very few of them on the road, we’ve learnt that the 550i can suffer from a faulty water pump. Another potential fault involves engine oil entering the brake servo and causing a reduction in braking assistance. Check with a franchised dealer to make sure yours isn’t affected. Overall, though, we’ve heard little but praise for the 5-series GT.
The one to buy
BMW 5-series Gran Turismo 535d Luxury
- 2993cc, 6 cylinder diesel
- 313bhp @ 4400rpm
- 464 lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm
- 8-speed automatic
- 0-62mph in 6.2mph
- Top speed:
- 53.3mpg (combined)
- Road tax band:
- L 4998mm, W 1901mm, H 1559mm
BMW 5-series GT rivals
- Range Rover (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Lexus RX450h (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
- Porsche Cayenne (Click here for used car prices on driving.co.uk)
Published April 24, 2013