BMW’s GT concept has started to sink in, especially during 2013. When the first 5 Series GT was launched it is quite notably not a run away success, but the launch of the 3 Series GT immediately showed that BMW was serious with this design.
The 5 Series sedan and 5 Series GT received simultaneously a facelift during the third quarter of 2013. Changes were subtle, but around four years after we have experienced the first 5 GT, what is it like to drive today?
Design and space
Bulbous probably describes it best. Not per se an attractive word for a car, but it does lead to several other significant and luxurious elements. The high roofline enlarges the cabin to such an extent that both front and rear passengers have more than ample head- and shoulder room. For the driver it feels simply as if he is driving an SUV that is slightly lower to the ground. Rear seat passengers are especially in for a treat, as they also benefit from a welcoming level of legroom.
Adding to the airy aura of the cabin, the two sunroofs allow the light to infiltrate the cabin in spectacular fashion. This was especially the case owing to the colour pallet on the interior of the car. However, during our 30 to 35 degrees Celsius summer days the sunroof was only used as a moonroof.
BMW’s executive saloons have, in the not too distant past, come under some criticism in terms of ride quality. This was partly rectified by the launch of the current F30 3 Series and F10 5 Series. Obviously it still depends a lot on your suspension specification (optional in some cases) and the tyre sizes. However, the 535i GT came with BMW’s optional (R34 500) Adaptive Drive system and the 245/45 R19 wheel and tyre combination at the front and on 275/40 R19 at the rear.
Although not direct competition for the GT, the W222 Mercedes-Benz S350 which I drove barely days after the GT was heavenly sprung, but the much more affordable GT’s ride quality was not that far off.
I really don’t understand South Africans’ obsession with big wheels. Here the slightly larger rubber area between the wheel and the road on the GT made for such a comfortable ride. If it was my car, I would have specced the wheels even an inch smaller.
As the name suggests, this GT is equipped with the well-known 3,0-litre twin-turbo six-cylinder engine. In cars such as the 3 Series – and even the standard 5 Series sedans – it is a strong engine that delivers the numbers. However, in the 535i GT, the engine would still push the car down the road with conviction, but tipping the scales at 2,1 tonnes (tested), the GT is a heavy car. We still managed to achieve a 0 to 100 km/h acceleration time of 6,8 seconds. Under braking the car performed impressively. The best time came in at 2,8 seconds and the worst at 3,1 seconds, while the average time was 2,88 seconds.
Being so heavy, fuel consumption also tends to be high. Even with a light foot, you would struggle to keep your average below 9,5 litres per 100 km.
The GT will be, for some buyers, a welcoming alternative compared to the sedan or even an SUV. Some of us would rather prefer a 5 Series Touring, but that is not locally available. If it is the space you are after, the GT should be on your options list. Having said that, I would suggest – if you are not after performance – saving yourself around R175 000 and opting for the 520d GT. Although it is down on power compared to the 535i GT, it delivers only 20 N.m less. Horses for courses.
Model: BMW 535i GT
Engine: 3,0-litre, six cylinder, biturbo-petrol
Power: 225 kW between 5 800 and 6 000 r/min
Torque: 400 N.m between 1 200 and 5 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 6,1 seconds (claimed)
Fuel consumption: 8,2 L/100 km (claimed)
CAR fuel index: 9,84 L/100 km
CO2: 192 g/km
Top speed: 250 km/h
Price: R775 887 (standard model)
Maintenance plan: 5 years/100 000 km
Service intervals: determined by onboard computer
0-60 km/h: 3,1 seconds
0-100 km/h: 6,8 seconds
100-120 km/h: 2,5 seconds
120-140 km/h: 3,1 seconds
100-0 km/h: 2,88 seconds (average of 10 braking tests)