What's the used BMW 5 Series hatchback like?
Just in case you thought there was a niche that BMW had forgotten to fill, welcome to the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo, a saloon that thinks it’s a coupe that really wants to be an SUV. Despite the nomenclature, this high-roofed hatchback (it has a conventional boot lid, too, but more on that later) is actually based on the running gear of the large 7 Series, so it offers plenty of interior space as well as a mildly raised-up driving position.
The engine range comprises two petrol options – the 535i and 550i – and three diesels, the 520d, 530d and 535d. There are three main trims to choose from. The entry-level SE models come with 18in alloy wheels, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers, plus an auto tailgate, while inside there is a leather upholstery, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, manually adjustable rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and dual-zone climate control. All BMW's come with the brilliant iDrive infotainment system, with the 520d coming with BMW's Navigation system, a DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB interface, while the 530d comes with the Professional Media system and a touch-sensitive iDrive controller.
Upgrade to the Luxury model and you'll find numerous exclusive touches and details with more chrome accents, while all the GTs come with BMW's Professional Media iDrive system as standard. The range-topping M Sport gets, unsurprisingly, a collection of sporting details, with M Performance decals, alloy wheels shod in run-flat tyres, sports suspension and sports seats all included in the package.
On the road, the two petrols offer plenty of performance, the 535i through a smooth 3.0-litre inline-six, and the 550i with a 444bhp V8. Of the diesels, the 520d is the most frugal, the 530d suitably punchy (think 0 to 60mph in just 6.3sec, rivalling the best hot hatches) and the 535d a real humdinger. There’s plenty of power on offer in all options, and the 5 Series GT is a smooth and refined cruiser with any of these units under its bonnet. A standard eight-speed automatic gearbox on all models is likewise creamy in everyday use.
Comfort is more of a mixed bag. On normal 18in wheels, the 5 Series GT is a little disappointing in its ride comfort. On the optional 20in wheels, it’s downright disappointing in its ride comfort. It can be caught out by bad road imperfections and these impacts can become intrusive. You might be able to excuse it this if the handling were sporty, but it isn’t. In fact, it always feels slightly disconnected through the steering, and there’s even a fair bit of body lean in bends taken quickly. It’s certainly not what you might expect from a firm who labels its products as the ultimate driving machines.
Inside, things are more as you might expect. It’s classy, with an excellent driving position that offers a lot of electrical adjustment, although visibility is a little limited by the large pillars and small rear window. BMW’s much-admired build quality is at its best in the 5 Series GT. Leather seats and wood trim are standard, while a particularly nice touch is the wave-like appearance of the armrests. Sit in any of the seats, though, and the GT is an exceptionally comfortable and aesthetically pleasing place to spend time, rivalling plenty of cars from higher classes.
Space in the rear is excellent, too, although the boot is only an average size and the dual boot opening is also a little limited in terms of practicality. The vast tailgate is useful enough, but the curving roofline limits carrying capacity and the saloon opening reveals a letterbox-style slot that you can’t see into unless you bend down real low. On a positive note, the rear seats fold flat with one pull of the same handle that allows them to be reclined, freeing up a reasonable 1700 litres of load space.
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