Earlier this month, BMW unveiled its new 5 Series Touring model, which, while boasting an array of advanced features, has made a notable exclusion: the rear glass opening feature. This change marks a departure from previous models, where the convenience of opening just the rear glass offered quick access to the trunk without the need to open the entire tailgate. Historically, the rear glass opening was a valued convenience for loading smaller items into the trunk or allowing ventilation without opening the tailgate. It was also a useful feature for drivers who had pets and needed quick access to them.

The Design Allegedly Killed This Feature

Of course, BMW’s decision could be influenced by several factors, including design aesthetics, space and cost efficiency. Streamlining the tailgate assembly without the separate rear glass mechanism could lead to a sleeker profile, potentially improving aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Moreover, simplifying the tailgate’s construction might enhance reliability and reduce manufacturing costs, but we had to ask.

During our conversation with the product manager of the BMW 5 Series Touring, we posed the question: What prompted BMW to eliminate a feature as straightforward and beneficial as the rear glass opening? According to the product manager, the removal of the tailgate window opening feature has to do with the more coupeish design of the rear end. In order to improve the coefficient drag – which also helps with the range of the electric variants – BMW designed a more sloping roof and a more upright trunk. Additionally, the man in charge of the car tells us that by removing the the opening of the tailgate window, the trunk volume is not compromised.

Cost Cutting?

The new BMW 5 Series Touring (03/2010)

Now, we’re not engineers, nor designers, so we can’t challenge that statement, but it’s also a bit far fetched to assume that the window mechanism would have significantly affected the cargo space and the aero drag. We pushed back a bit asking whether this is simply a cost cutting measure, but BMW stuck to its original answer. Regardless of what the reason was, this change did not sit well with all BMW aficionados. Long-time fans who appreciated the practicality and convenience of the rear glass opening view its omission as a step back in user experience.

We would even argue that a vehicle in this segment should emphasize versatility and convenience, especially since this is a feature embedded in the DNA of the 5 Series Touring since the original E34. Although BMW may suggest that data indicates a decline in iDrive controller usage, there appears to be no concrete evidence to suggest that customers lacked interest in the tailgate window opening feature. Come on, BMW!

Update: BMW of North America also stated to Motor1 that the design influenced this decision.