Less than three short months after BMW unveiled the Concept 5 Series Gran Turismo at the Geneva auto show in March, the company has announced the production version. It will retain the 5 Series Gran Turismo name and is said to combine a coup-like silhouette with the luxurious interior of a BMW 7 Series, while at the same time giving the functionality of a BMW 5 Series Touring or X5.
The 19th distinct model shape to be offered in the BMW portfolio has a vehicle length nearly on par with a 7 Series to create a greater feeling of space for those inside. This translates into the second greatest amount of legroom offered by any BMW, while headroom is equivalent to that of an X5. Meanwhile, trunk space is the second largest space of all current BMWs behind the capacity of the BMW X5.
The Gran Turismo is available as either a four-seat specification car for a luxurious, spacious feel or in a five-seat configuration for a blend of sophistication and practicality. But its truly innovative feature is a two-piece tailgate, which is a first in the premium segment. Now an owner has the option to choose between two ways of opening the rear of the vehicle - a more conventional sedan-style trunk opening provides access for smaller objects. This allows the cabin area to remain warm and without noise intrusion. The hatch-style opening combined with a flexible partition comes into play should the Gran Turismo owner wish to make full use of its load-lugging capacity. The rear seats can be moved 4" fore or aft to either increase trunk space or provide greater legroom for rear seat passengers.
With the rear seats moved forwards, the seat backs folded virtually flat and the parcel shelf removed and stowed beneath the luggage compartment floor, much bulkier items can then be transported.
The Gran Turismo has been styled to represent its unique position in the market. The familiar BMW kidney grilles and large air intakes hint at the car's performance potential, while a coup feel is bestowd by the roof line that curves downwards towards the rear and the frameless doors.Inside, the seats are all set in a semi-command driving position for the best mix of forward vision yet comfortable access. One of the key features of the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is the height of the seats. Potential customers have expressed a desire for the luxury of a 7 Series but also the feeling of security and all round visibility a car with a command driving position such as the X5 offers.Black Panel technology first shown on the BMW 7 Series is a signature piece of design that allows the displays in the centre console to double as stylish trim. The electronic displays are visible through the Black Panel when needed, but are discreet enough to form a stylish black band across the interior when not in use. Control switches in galvanized metal are set into the centre console by way of contrast.
Three class-leading engines power the three models available at launch. The new Gran Turismo will initially be offered in Europe as a 530d, 535i and 550i.The biggest seller is predicted to be the BMW 530d GT. This 2993cc six-cylinder car features third-generation common-rail direct injection with piezo injectors for the best in diesel refinement and efficiency. Producing 245hp at 4000rpm, the 530d accelerates from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds before going on to a top speed of 149mph. Fuel economy is exceptional with a combined consumption figure of 43.5mpg.
Joining the diesel-powered car is the BMW 535i GT. This 2979cc six-cylinder powerplant is the first ever to combine a single turbo with Valvetronic variable valves timing for optimum efficiency. This partnership ensures the car meets the latest stringent emission regulations while offering optimum performance. The 306hp BMW 535i GT also features high-precision direct injection technology for added efficiency. The performance credentials of the car are underscored by 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. Consumption is impressive with 31.7mpg on the combined cycle.Topping the range is the BMW 550i GT. Powered by an acclaimed 407hp 4395cc V8 with twin-turbo technology, the 550i GT offers near supercar performance with 0- 62mph time of 5.5 seconds and an electronically-limited 155mph top speed. Its twin-turbochargers provide a near flat torque curve to provide relaxed yet rapid in-gear acceleration. The BMW 550i GT records a combined consumption figure of 25.2mpg.
All cars come as standard with BMW's new eight-speed automatic transmission announced earlier this month on the 760Li. The all-new transmission is 6% more fuel efficient than the previous six-speed automatic, yet it is as compact and weighs the same.
The European versions of the 5 Series Gran Turismo comes with many of the EfficientDynamics technologies already shown on other BMWs. Brake Energy Regeneration which recharges the battery during engine over-run is standard. On-demand control of the car's ancillary units such as the electrical coolant pump and the powering steering pump can all be decoupled to save draining power from the engine. Active aerodynamics also plays a part in the range's performance and efficiency by closing off flaps behind the kidney grilles to improve the aerodynamics of the car.All cars come as standard with Drive Dynamic Control, a feature showcased on the 7 Series, that allows the driver to fine tune the chassis configuration to suit their needs. Drivers will be able to specify Normal, Comfort, Sport and Sport+, with each setting changing the steering assistance, throttle response and gear change characteristics.Double wishbone front suspension and an integral V rear axle with air suspension provide the occupants with a composed ride. The car is also available with Integral Active Steering instead of the standard hydraulic steering configuration with Servotronic assistance for enhanced driving dynamics and comfort.
The Gran Turismo comes with a level of standard specification greater than previously offered on any 5 Series. Dakota leather upholstery, four-zone air-conditioning, panoramic sunroof and metallic paint are included. A USB audio interface, ambient lighting and heated front seats are also included.
Features such as Reversing Assist Camera and Side View camera capability are available. A host of additional equipment from Night Vision with pedestrian recognition and Head-up Display to Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go can be specified.
The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo goes on sale in October 2009 in Europe. We are waiting to hear about US specifications, delivery dates and prices.