Opposite Lock: The 5 GT Gives Birth


Some time has gone by since the launch of the BMW 5 Gran Turismo. Built upon the 7 series’ platform, the car was modified to …

Some time has gone by since the launch of the BMW 5 Gran Turismo. Built upon the 7 series’ platform, the car was modified to look like a 5 and drive like a 7 with the storage space and utility of an X5. Sounds good on paper.

In reality, the car’s proportions strained many eyes, and underwhelming sales figures were the result. I accept that I see things a little differently in the automotive world – I am, in some way, an outcast of public opinion. I like the 5GT. I drove one for a week, and was deeply impressed. Allow me to explain my adoration.

First off, let’s tackle the highly subjective topic of looks. I admit it’s not one of the brand’s most attractive vehicles – not by a long shot – but in the right colour (black) with the M sport pack affixed, it’s still a head turner. At least it turned my head when one passed me downtown Toronto. In real life, in this color and package, it was a very muscular, focused looking car. It’s obvious that it has junk in the trunk. But some people like that. And it is, after all, functional and very practical for those who need to carry gear on occasion.

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True, you shouldn’t need to dress your car (or significant other) in black in order to find them attractive. But there is much more to this car than exterior looks, and since you’ll be spending most of your time inside the vehicle, the 5GT goes on to win points here. The interior is brilliant. It’s airy, open, relaxed, and luxurious. The sound system is top notch, the interior appointments, technology and materials are on par with the flagship 6 and 7 series cars. The cabin of the 5GT was a place I began to call home after only a few days with the car.

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What defines a BMW more than any other attribute is its driving dynamics. A BMW must be able to hold its own through a corner. Knowing the negative press that the 5GT had been getting, I thought it appropriate to prove its metal on the racetrack, and that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t know what to expect at the time. For all I knew, the 5GT would fall flat on its face, embarrassing itself with wanton understeer, wobbly chassis movements, and underpowered brakes.

On the fast sweepers of a retired Formula 1 track, BMW’s 5GT made a believer out of me. That I could have a family of 5 tucked in behind me along with a 10-speed and a week’s groceries was irrelevant once I crossed the painted line of pit-out. If I ever have the chance to track the 5GT again, I’ll be sure to have baby-seats strapped into the rear seats (preferably with plastic babies, not the real kind) just to further humiliate the proper sports car drivers I pass. Yes, Mosport raceway is a high speed circuit that favors engine power, but it also demands excellent chassis dynamics and grip in order to press on through its high speed corners. On the straights the 5GT’s 400 hp devoured an array of sports cars, and it was not caught and passed in the corners. What surprised me most was the 5GT’s neutral handling and willingness to turn in. Yes, some understeer was still dialed in, but much less than you’d find on, say, a 135i. The brakes also impressed with very little fade after hard lapping. Bottom line: the 5GT will only look silly at the racetrack until you start driving it.

So the 5GT can look the part in the right colour combo (to some eyes anyway) and deliver serious speed and driving thrills should you choose to unleash it on a back road or local racetrack. It will caudal you in the finest quality interior and allow you to carry plenty of cargo in the boot, to boot. It’s also cheaper than the 7 series, despite similar quality, luxury, dynamics and technology. I’m not seeing many down sides.

We’ve heard mixed feedback from BMW regarding the 5GT since its launch. At times, the feedback has been very positive, other times there has been an undercurrent of disappointment, namely in sales figures, and we’re not sure whether or not we will see a second generation of the 5GT. We hope so, but this time, wearing a sharper suit. We would mark the Audi A7 as the benchmark head-turner in this segment. It’s flat-out gorgeous from any angle and has earned rave reviews thus far – also busting the sales quagmire of the segment creating 5GT.

Not long ago, we noticed a baby-bump on the 5GT, right around the rear three quarter panel. Turns out the 5GT is birthing a 3GT. This leaves us with more questions than answers, but we’ll tell you what we know.

The 3GT will launch around March 2013, adding yet another variant to the 3 series for sale across most markets. Expect a price jump above the standard 3er, but not by a large margin. The 3GT will be based on the F30 3 series platform, but will be extended in length to allow the same trunk space and more legroom than its 5 series big brother. It will also ride higher than its 3 series sibling, allowing for easier ingress and egress.

[Photo source: Auto Motor Und Sport]

In the looks department, expect a low-slung roof leading to a much sexier rump, described as a combo between a touring sedan and shooting brake concept. The low-slung roofline in combination with a high belt line will squeeze the windows and create the impression of a longer, sleeker car. We’re hoping that, without plagiarizing, the 3GT will be a worthy competitor to the A7 in the looks department – and we’re confident that with its perfect balance and rear wheel drive, it will destroy the Audi dynamically.

The 3GT should go on to offer exceptional versatility and practicality without making the step to an SUV. In a sense, this new “Progressive Activity Coupe” is a station wagon with a sexy name and sexy looks. It will put the cool in parenthood. Or allow folks who need near-SUV space and utility to skip the fuel consumption and emissions associated with a larger, boxier SUV.

[Photo source: German Car Forum]

Until we see and drive the final production version of the 3GT, we can’t pass any judgment. Conceptually, the apple falls not far from the 5GT tree. And conceptually, we like it.

For a full review of BMW’s 5GT, click here. To see the new 3GT prototype in action, click here.

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12 responses to “Opposite Lock: The 5 GT Gives Birth”

  1. Pimeto says:

    A BMW car for everyone ? Every niche ? This is Toyota or FORD or something such a soulless thing! BMW is ruining its legacy with full speed! They are turning into another brand that can offer you anything from a teenager car to a loving family wagon…. STOP THIS MADNESS!

  2. Giom says:

    Great to see the awesome 5GT in the headlines again! I’m sure impressed with the way you hauled it around a race track Shawn. Didn’t know it was that good dynamically. Even tho it wasn’t meant to be driven like that.
    I, too, love the idea of the GT and I find the 5 series GT very beautiful. I’ve been trying to find the ‘ugly’, but I just don’t see it. IMO, journalism killed the GT. Same thing happened to the 8 series in the nineties. Think about it, every single article you saw about the GT had a very negative intro, middle and conclusion. No product, no matter how good it is, can survive that sort of introduction. Only because journos didn’t understand that the car wasn’t designed for them, but rather a very specific few customers.
    I defenatly think BMW took note of the looks aspect for the 3GT, as noted, the spy shots does reveal a sleaker looking design

  3. Cat Zura says:

    You forgot the 1-series GT. That’s the abomination that will bring FWD to BMW. All these “GT” cars are eating away at BMW’s reputation, and for what? a few hundred extra sales?  

    I fear that this, coupled with the brilliant (but unlikely to make a profit) i1/3/5 vans may push BMW behind Audi and Mercedes not only in profitability but in (gulp) brand image too. 

  4. Endras BMW says:

    Great post Shawn. The 5GT is like an uber-practical 7 Series with a taller driving position. Great car and especially great looking in black or blue with the M Sports package. 

  5. Keith says:

    Still an ugly car. I sure wish that I could get a 5 series touring in diesel though.

  6. Tom says:

    GTs? I don’t understand why someone would pay a premium over the touring counterparts, and I certainly hope BMW never abandon the touring in favor of the GTs.

  7. Minifan says:

    “underwhelming sales figures” – who said the sales figures were underwhelming?

    According to the BMW Annual Report, 22,451 GT’s were sold in 2011 compared to only 18,809 Z4’s and only 9,396 6 Series (Coupe & Convertible).

    What sales figures did they expect?

  8. Alexf says:

    The writer of this article clearly does not know anything about cars, particularly BMWs. Firstly, how on earth can you compare the 5GT with the Audi A7. these are two different type of cars you misguided maniac. Secondly, the 5 GT is a unique design for a unique market. It was never intended to sell well commercially. Thirdly, the sales figures are in fact above BMW’s own targets for this unique one off design.

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