2010 BMW 550i Gran Turismo Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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The latest vehicular creation to come from BMW blends a combination of the essential features of a prestigious saloon, a modern Sports Activity Vehicle, and a classic Gran Turismo. The new 550i BMW Gran Turismo displays a uniquely stylish and elegant package in the form of a four-seater that comes with a coupé-like body style, featuring a stretched and sleek roofline along with an innovative two-piece tailgate. The spacious interior provides luxurious comfort with a slightly elevated seating position for convenient ingress and egress, in addition to good visibility, except perhaps directly out the rear glass, where vision is somewhat limited.

Visually, the BMW 5GT delivers proportions that are typical of BMW design. Up front, the view is characterized by the strong presence of the low-slung trademark BMW twin kidney grille, the large air intakes and the characteristic dual round headlights. The BMW grille itself is slanted slightly forward, with its upper edge establishing the foremost point on the body. The dual round headlights are similarly slanted at an angle and extend far into the side panels, merging at the top into a matte trim cover, thereby generating the clearly focused look that heralds the BMW brand.

The roofline drops slowly and consistently toward the rear of the car and merges into the rear spoiler, allowing the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo to successfully and attractively convey its four-door structure into the image of a coupe. Both the front and rear doors feature frameless windows, making entry and exit in tight parking situations easier. The outer rooflines as well as the shoulder lines come together in the tailgate's airflow spoiler, creating an almost fastback like, rear end look. Otherwise, horizontal lines dominate the rear view of the car, with the look of power and muscle being further underlined by the wheel arches flared far to the outside.

The rear light clusters merge far into the side panels, ensuring that the full width of the 5 GT also stands out clearly in the car's design at night. Rows of LED lights provide a distinctive light pattern.

The interior serves up generous space and comfort along with individual luxury for each occupant. The dashboard is subdivided horizontally and features "Black Panel" technology and a 25.9-cm (10.2-inch) control display for BMW's iDrive telematics. Switches for Dynamic Drive Control and the iDrive Controller are conveniently positioned on the center console.

The two-piece tailgate, this innovative design featured for the first time on a BMW, ensures both practicality and versatility when loading and unloading. The two sections offer the choice of a small opening beneath the rear window and a large lid as found on BMW's X models. Both sections may be opened and closed individually, with the large tailgate featuring automatic soft close.

The BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo offers up a choice of two engines for the North American marketplace: a soon-to-be-available 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder that generates 306 horsepower powering the 535i GT; or the currently available 4.4-litre V8 that powers the 550i GT, developing 407 horsepower along with 442 pound-feet of torque. The 550i GT is capable of propelling from 0-100 mph in only 7.2 seconds – not bad for a vehicle that tips the scales at nearly 2 and 1/2 tons. The same transmission is fitted to both engine choices: an eight-speed, electronically controlled automatic. The new automatic gearbox features manual shift capability.
                       
All variants of the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo come with BMW EfficientDynamics as standard issue, showcasing BMW high-tech. Other notable tech features include Brake Energy Regeneration; on-demand control of the car's ancillary units such as the electrical coolant pump, electrical steering assistance pump, map-controlled oil pump and detachable air conditioning compressor; as well as lightweight technology, optimized aerodynamics, and tires with low roll resistance combined to ensure optimum fuel economy. The 5 Series GT is truly a marvel in modern automotive technology.

My test BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo 550i sported an exterior finish of Neptune Blue metallic with a two-tone Ivory White and Black interior treatment, plus dark Ash grain wood trim accents. The base price sticker was set at $79,600 while additional features are available such as the Luxury Rear Seating, Multimedia Package, Executive Package, Dynamic Handling Package, Technology Package, Sport Package, Integral Active Steering, Smartphone integration, and Satellite radio with 1-year subscription.

There are really several ways to look at the 5 GT Bimmer – as a totally new vehicle type, or as a blend of elements from the 5 Series sedan, X5 and X6. It's not a wagon, but can well serve as one. It is without question sleek and aerodynamic, with a bold overall character in its visual appeal.

In terms of its performance, it handles every bit as well as the new 2011 5 Series sedan that's equipped with the same running gear. It is incredibly quick, considering its weight (it weighs a little more than the sedan), but that fact is barely discernable. The handling qualities fall into the sport sedan category, as does the ride quality.

The level of technology onboard is overwhelming, so it will take time for new owners to assimilate all of the car's capabilities. Aiding in that regard, the entire owner's manual is embedded into the iDrive system, which provides instructions on all phases of operation.

Certainly not everyone will be enamored with the styling of the 5 Series GT, and will prefer the more conventional approach to design found in the 5 Series sedan. Looks aside, however, this new BMW possesses all the panache of other 5 Series models, but with a higher degree of functionality and versatility. Less expensive models in the lineup are forthcoming. Essentially, the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo may be ordered to suit one's individual budget and personal desires and requirements. In any case, the car, or whatever it is, has created a new and unique category.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Sport Sedan, Luxury Sedan, BMW, 2010, 5 Series, GranTurismo, $50,000 - $74,999, $75,000 - $99,999,

Organizations: BMW

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