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Autoblog names BMW 550i GT as the Ultimate Passenger Machine

5 Series GT | April 29th, 2010 by 22
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Autoblog publishes a review of the 2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, the high-end model sitting at the top of the new 5 GT family. …

Autoblog publishes a review of the 2010 BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, the high-end model sitting at the top of the new 5 GT family. With the risk of repeating ourselves, the 5 Series GT could be considered one of the most controversial vehicles coming out of BMW’s production line in the past 5 years.

Built as a Gran Tourer, a vehicle made for long journeys in extreme comfort without sacrificing performance, the 5 Series GT has received mixed reviews ever since the first photos hit the web. It is certainly a car that doesn’t photograph well and its proportions are far more fluent when looked from close proximity.

It is a car that was built for a niche market, one that is already starting to become attractive to other automakers as well.

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Those mixed reviews we were mentioning earlier could also be sense in Autoblog’s latest article that gives us a closer look at the ultra-luxurious, but somewhat odd looking 550i GT.

We suppose it’s downright impossible to discuss the 550i GT without first mentioning its shape. In a word, awkward. To add one more word, really awkward. The front end happily employs BMW’s latest design direction, with mega-nostrils dwarfing the Roundel and the newest version of their patented angel eyes. The only thing is, the angel eyes are mounted within clear covers that stretch across three different surfaces (nose, fender and hood). The car looks like it’s wearing goggles and the usual aggressive effect is greatly lessened as a result. The real story, of course, is what’s going on out back with that clever functioning hatch. Long story short, that added functionality has resulted in something of an aesthetic mess. Our other man, photographer Drew Phillips, tried his very best to photograph the 550i GT in the best light possible, but that rear end simply lacks beauty. And grace. And elegance. And it looks weird, too. Moving on…

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And here is the balance point….

Thankfully, the inside is a completely different story. Unlike the divisive exterior, BMW has done a first rate job designing and appointing the 550i GT’s interior. We enjoyed what we saw and sat on immensely. The Gran Turismo’s haptic habitat might be the final nail in the coffin of BMW interiors of yore – you know, dark pits that resembled Lord Vader’s meditation chamber. We’re overjoyed by the non-varnished wood paneling and are still smiling because of the excellent orange leather. We even dug the glowing orange mood lighting that shows up at night – perhaps BMW’s not totally ready to let go of Darth just yet.

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Heavy? Without a doubt. Built for performance only? Most likely not….

Obviously, the hopped up twin-turbo, direct-injection, double VANOS 4.4-liter V8 with its 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of all-day torque is a peach. Leading you to think such an engine coupled to BMW’s new eight-speed automatic transmission would make for a very quick car. Under certain conditions, it is exactly that. Lots of buff books have clocked it at taking just 5.3 seconds to hit 60 mph. But for the most part, the 550i GT tends to feel heavy, ponderous and out of tune.

The Autoblog’s review is the most comprehensive one we have ever seen and it makes for a great read.

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  • Joe

    One of the ugliest designs to come out of Munich in a long time. These are begging for a refresh. I was at the dealer the other day and the same one i saw 4 months ago is still sitting there.

  • Doug

    It has the same basic shape as the Prius. It just doesn’t look balanced, and it’s shape doesn’t emote anything that a performance car should.

    • Doug

      Ok I got voted down.

      Let me clarify my main issue with the design. Compare the GT to the X6. Both very similiar sportback designs, but the X6 connotes far more performance and “mucularity”. The main reason, IMHO, is the rear quarter section – the X6 has a narrower greenhouse section versus wider fender proportions, which give it that appearance of muscular haunches and low center of gravity. The GT, on the other hand, is completely rectangular in that rear area where the car is the chunkiest, which gives it the appearance and balance of a station wagon. They should have mitigated its fat ass like they did with the X6.

      • Giom

        I see your point, and you’re not wrong. But, the biggest difference between the GT and the X6 is function. The GT needs to be big on the inside, and duo to it’s mechanicals for the double hatch door, a lot of space is sacrificed. To compensate, the exterior grew in an effort to retain some interior volume. A designers nightmare, I’m sure.

        Point is, the GT is function first – looks next.

        And I think its buyers knows that – and is ok with it. (Btw, I’m with Vaybach Khan on this, for me, the GT is an absolute beaut! I cannot look at it enough.)

      • Doug

        If wouldn’t take that much to create some separation between the greenhouse and the rear quarter-section. They could soften that c-pillar (?) edge and bring it in 1-2 inches. I’m not sure that it needs to sacrifice anything in style to gain the function.

    • XC

      Well, maybe because it is not a performance car.

  • Giom

    Lets not forget, this car is market specific. Why they can’t test it as such – or use a tester that at least understand the market it is intended for, is beyond me. It only makes sence.

    Why else have they sold thousends of them already – regardless of the negative press reviews…? The target market ‘gets’ it – and loves it! They expect nothing more from it other than what it was designed for.

    • Doug

      Hi Giom-
      yes that’s a really good point, they don’t have any tests for that niche and purpose the way they have for SUVs and sports cars. Should it be tested on snowy ski-house access roads, or across sand bars, etc?

      And , what is the actual performance tradeoff between the 5 series, the GT, and the X5? Especially handling, roll characteristics, lateral G’s, dive/squat, etc.

  • minifan

    I am currently driving the 330d version of this and absolutely love it. Everyone who has seen the car has stated that they love the design.

    Maybe it is something you have to see “in the flesh” to appreciate…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1631237176 Vaybach Khan

    well i dont know but 5gt for me is a dream car,and x1 too…when i first saw gt i thought ppl gonna go crazy about it and its aggressive design …???

  • n8n

    It should look like COUPE, but it’s not… it looks like X6 with ugly back… ;/
    Front is quite pretty, and interior is pretty also, but this back and whole line (including the roof)… :(((

  • Giom

    Announcement!!

    I have just seen my first GT! A 535i GT! And, I have to say, I was blown away by how compact it looked after all the photos I’ve seen up till now.

    I spoke to the owner – a 30 something businessman with two little daughters in the back… He went to buy a seven series – he wanted a big car for his family. This GT was standing there – and after the introduction from the BMW staff, he new that it was the car for him. The size of the interior together with the practicality won him over – and, he loved the look!

    I wish these un-informed journos can look past their biased noses and realise that not every car was designed to please them.

    This is a huge nod to BMW!

  • Babken

    Idiotic review by Autoblog. BMW 5 Series GT is more about comfort than performance though it has it as well. But first of all it’s made for the comfort-oriented customer segment who care about a car that has enough performance, lots of room and cargo space and sits higher.

  • Doug

    Now wait a minute. I think the right approach here is to argue without bias, not to argue one bias against another, which seems to be what’s going on here. Opinion has a place in any analysis (such as autoblog’s) provided that it doesn’t skew that of other aspects of the car. Clearly they lauded some aspects of the car when they felt it was warranted (like the interior).

    On the other hand, they found the exterior design awkward, which is their reaction to it. It didn’t disturb their opinion of the interior. Similarly, their findings of the handling are consistent with how this form factor would be expected to perform, and *IS* highly relevant to the decision by someone looking to by a BMW — it shouldn’t be considered irrelevant because someone “doesn’t understand the product”.

    On this thought, they make a very interesting point about BMW’s brand direction:
    “What if instead of appealing to those who actually might value the ultimate driving machine, they’re looking instead for other customers?”

    • Doug

      ps. So, voting something down because you don’t like the opinion isn’t good enough. I didn’t take it personally at all, but in light of certain nuisance posters (i mean the really bad ones) accusing us of being biased fanboys — are we going to drop to their level and prove their point? Not to mention further antagonize them this way.

  • http://gasdgdsagas Shincai

    Dunno why people don’t like this car.
    It’s a beautiful car!!!

  • Wantris

    Chris Bangle once said that if a car does not have a polarizing opinions then it will not last the distance. He was hated and loved. He has left his legacy and many car makers have copied him, including his arch rivals at Mercedes. S class come to mind.
    Seeing the car in the flesh is much better than photos. It will work and sell simply because it works, practical. The X5 is a brilliant car, but not everybody wants a high seating, big 4×4 SUV. The car is already achieved its goal and that is attracting buyers and people to the BMW family. The journalist sometimes (if not most of the times) miss the point. The cars are made for people who wants to buy a certain car. Speed is not always everything…. PS and the iDrive the journalists keep moaning about, ask your 4 year old how to work it, they have been moaning for eight years about it. It also works well!

    • XC

      I agree. Some journalists expect every single BMW to be an M3. BMW is just reacting to what the market demands. And the iDrive system works just fine; I didn’t even had to ask my 6 year old boy how to use it!

  • JRF

    Of course, beauty will always be in the eye of the beholder, but for my wife and me, the GT is a handsome machine! We looked for a new vehicle for my wife (a Texan and the daughter of a slingshot racer – Carroll Bros. Texas Whips for those who remember) and test drove or sat in a number of the usual suspects (Cayenne, Panamera, MKX, MKT, MKS, SRX, etc. I encountered the GT on the web and it reminded me of another hatchback that we owned in the 80’s and liked for its comfort and flexibility but not elecrical issues, the Merkur Scorpio. Now, the GT is a Scorpio on steroids, a whole lot of steroids, but its appeal to us is the combination of extraordinary comfort, loading flexibility and performance (it must be peppy she says – she definitely got the racing genes!). The seats were the only ones that my wife found comfortable (back issues) and, in fact, she claims that her back felt better getting out than when she got in. Maybe we can get a prescription for a GT. True, it is a niche machine and it should be viewed with different expectations. Never driven a BMW before, but we have the 550i GT on order and its first order of business will be a western US tour of the National Parks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=602092964 Garrie Tam

    My GT was delivered in April, and believe it or not, there are so many people staring at it and now I lost count already. Even my wife notice people was talking about us when she was looking outside the window. There was once a biker cuts into my lane and stops right in front of me, giving me a thumb up. I was shocked but then I gave him back a friendly smile. The car might looks controversial, but not until you drive it, you don’t notice the difference. My other car is a E320; first shipment to Hong Kong back in 2002, even so back then fewer pedestrian will give us a head turn.

    • Giom

      I’m really glad to hear your account of ownership. Everytime I hear someone talking about their GT, it’s the same story… happyness! I’m one of the ‘spectators’ when I see one, I just can’t help myself – I stare.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • KeadysKids1984

    I purchased a used GT 550i a few months ago and upgraded its horsepower to over 500 and torque to over 570 through a Dinan Stage 2 upgrade. It is a wonderful touring car and I have not yet a person who has not liked it’s style and power. 0-60 mph now is achieved in under 4.5 sec. On the highway 60-100 mph happens in about 4 seconds. It is surprisingly nimble on its 20″ sport wheels and 275 rear p-zeros.

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