Sam Philip22 May 2009

Nouveau niche

BMW unveils 5-Series Gran Turismo. It’s so confusing that it makes the X6 look straightforward

5-Series Gran Turismo

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Thought the BMW X6 was weird? This one’s going to really make your head hurt, then.

This is the 5-Series Gran Turismo. We saw the concept version back in February, but this is the production model, set to go on sale in the UK this October.

What the hell is it? Good question. Ostensibly, it’s the third variant of the 5-Series, after the saloon and estate. Beyond that, you’re looking at something that genuinely sits in an all-new segment. Problem is, we have no idea what to call that segment.

It’s big, we know that. BMW says the 5-Series GT combines the rear legroom of a 7-Series with the headroom of an X5, along with estate-like boot capacity and the versatility of an MPV. It rides higher than the standard 5-Series – though not as high as the X5 or X6 – and features sliding rear seats: two of them if you opt for ‘Executive’ trim, three if you don’t.

Confused? It gets better. The GT has a Skoda Superb-style ‘double boot’, which allows you to either open it fully – like a hatchback – or just pop the lower section, like a saloon.

In the styling department, it’s more conservative than some of BMW’s recent efforts. There’s still the big kidney-grilled front end – expect to see the same face on next year’s 5-Series – and an X6-style coupe stance, but less of the angular surfacing we’ve come to expect from the barn of Bangle.

It’ll be launched in the UK with the choice of three engines: the three-litre twin-turbo petrol from the 535i, the 4.4-litre V8 petrol from the 550i and, most relevantly to the UK, the lovely straight six diesel from the 530d, which’ll whip the big GT to 60mph in just under seven seconds. All three engines will come with BMW’s new eight-speed automatic gearbox – as seen in the new 7-Series – as standard.

So what do you think of the 5-Series GT, Top Geareans? We’re really keen to hear your views – is it a neat way of sidestepping the anti-SUV sentiment, or simply a niche too far?

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