We have been sitting on these third-party test drives for quite some time now, but today is a good day to share some of those with you.
We already started with Top Gear and their 535i test drive, and now we are moving onto the other luxurious, yet controversial, member of the 5 Series family: the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. UK-based publication, Daily Mail, and its own James May took the time to review the BMW 550i GT.
“So I’d just got back to the house in the Mini when I saw this latest novelty from Bavaria in the driveway: a 5 Series Gran Turismo. What’s that, then?
Well, it’s definitely not a 5 Series, for a start. It’s too big. It’s not a grand tourer either – not sporty enough. Is it a 7 Series on stilts? Well, yes, in a way, as looking through the window I could see similar luxury and legroom. Is it a stretched X5?
Could be, as it’s got the right headroom and cavernous boot. Is it a ‘sports activity coupé’ like the similarly shaped X6? I just couldn’t tell. I had to walk around it three times, and the only thing I was certain of at the end was that it’s not my idea of pretty.
The centre console, including sat-nav and iDrive controller
As quick as I could, I got inside – and that’s when my mind began to change. Things like the head-up display on the windscreen and the side-view cameras I’ve seen before on specced-up Beemers, but they always make me feel like I’m in something a bit special.
The best was to come, though, because on the way home I sat in the back – and when I say sat, I mean slept. This, to me, is the GT’s killer app: thanks to its size and some clever mechanicals under the rear seats (if you specify it with two separate berths instead of the bench), with a press of a button you can recline them nearly all the way back – and still have room to stretch your legs. I’m not small, but I slept like a baby. You can’t do that in a 5 Series.
Then there’s the boot. You can shunt the back seats forward by four inches to make it bigger, or fold them flat to give a huge 1,700 litres of space. But what everyone goes on about is the two-piece tailgate: you can either open the whole thing as on a hatchback, or just the lower portion as on a saloon.
I’m sure that’s a lifesaver if you want to spare your passengers the horror of a bit of wind entering the cabin, but I can’t see what all the fuss is about myself. Range Rovers have done this for years, haven’t they?
I suppose it gives it the edge over the competition… it’s just that right now I can’t think what the competition for this motor might be.
I get the impression this car was born in a board meeting where everyone from the CEO to the tea boy was allowed to chuck in a great idea, and to avoid offence they’ve done all of them.
From the inside it’s worked brilliantly, but from the outside I have to say, I still don’t like it. We’ve already mated offroaders to saloons to coupes, but this new generation is so in-bred I’d be scared to leave it in my drive in case it gets in a fight with its own reflection.”