The GT or Gran Turismo ("grand tourer") designation, first used by Italian marques in the 1920s to denote a vehicle combining sports car performance with luxurious appointments and enhanced luggage capacity for long-distance travel, has been abused to the point of absurdity - hello Ford Escort GT. But BMW h
as brought it back to life in a wholly modern incarnation with their newest creation, the 5 Series Gran Turismo
, managing to invent something brand new in the process. These days "brand new" has also lost its appeal when it comes to automotive styling outside of supercar
s and ultra-luxury rides; witness the deluge of melted minivans and beastly breadboxes clogging up the freeways. The 5 Series GT triumphs because while undeniably breaking new ground, at heart it's basically a mélange of two of the famed German marque's longstanding successes: the X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and 7 Series
There's been a lot of debate about whether the 5 Series GT should be considered a car, a mini-SUV
, a crossover or some other damn thing altogether. What we can tell you is that when we recently took one on a drive up through the scenic byways of New England
that was the furthest thing from our mind. The inside is incredibly spacious, with the same legroom as the 7 Series combined with the headroom of the BMW X5, the elegance, comfort and class of both, and an extremely practical, well-designed and capacious rear cargo area with a two-piece tailgate adaptable to a number of different configurations. A stretched and sleek coupé-like roofline, frameless windows, a commanding, slightly elevated seating position, large windows and a panoramic glass roof, upright BMW kidney grille, large air intakes and dual round LED headlights slanted back at rakish angle all give the car its distinctive good looks.
Under the bonnet, the V8 TwinPower Turbo engine delivering a maximum output of 407 hp borrowed from the stellar 750i is paired with the innovative eight speed automatic transmission that can otherwise only be found in the new twelve-cylinder 760Li. In the 550i GT that means a masterful 0–62 mph time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. A fourth generation iDrive system, black panel instruments and giant displays give the cockpit the feeling of a private jet. Add options like high beam assist, night vision, and even an electrically swiveling trailer hook and you begin to see the versatility of a vehicle of this caliber. Expect to see the competition rushing out copies in record time.