2010 BMW GT 535i | road test

Posted on Sep 20, 2010 by

The GT looks fairly normal from the front...

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Very comfortable
  • Surprisingly involving to drive
  • Very practical

AGAINST

  • Ungainly looks
  • Quite pricey
  • Boot space could be larger

SUMMARY

Although marketed as as standalone model in the Middle East, ’s GT is called the 5 Series Gran Turismo internationally, but is based on the larger 7 Series. It’s a mixed up beast indeed, with rather ungainly looks.

But inside it’s very pleasant indeed, with SUV levels of space. It goes well, the handling is great and although we can’t quite get our head around the creation of yet another niche vehicle, we can’t deny that it’s an impressive and practical bit of kit and hard to fault.

...but rather ungainly at the back. There's method behind the designers' madness, however

PERFORMANCE

The engine is lovely; nice and powerful with smooth, creamy delivery and just enough noise to remind you and your passengers of the power under the bonnet – some 300bhp from the 3.0-litre straight six. That’s enough to bring up 100kph in 6.3 seconds, which is well into sports car territory.

The new eight-speed automatic gearbox is also excellent, changing cogs quickly and with no fuss.

HANDLING AND RIDE

Although the GT has few sporting pretensions, it does handle very nicely. It’s not set up for thrashing – it’s much looser than the sporty cars in BMW’s range – but it has a very able chassis and very quick steering (just two turns from lock to lock). This nippiness is due in part to the Integral Active Steering system, which turns the rear wheels as well as the fronts. This makes it a compliant but crisp car to drive and surprisingly enjoyable to hustle along.

Whatever you think of the looks, the handling and performance is impressive

The chassis has three settings – Normal, Sport and Sport Plus. Sport quickens the drivetrain and stiffens the chassis while Sport Plus turns off some of the stability control settings should you, for some reason, want to fling the car around. We don’t suggest it – for all the technology and refinement, it still weighs more than two tonnes.

On Normal setting, the ride is firm, but it’s not uncomfortable. Only those with hugely sensitive behinds need be concerned.

COMFORT

The interior of the car is very nicely appointed and boasts, with the optional comfort seats, some of the best chairs we’ve tried in any car recently. They’re very comfortable with plenty of lateral support and it feels like you’re sitting in them, like a familiar armchair, rather than on them. They’re also remarkably adjustable, with a hinge halfway up the back so the top can fold it for more support around the shoulders. The quality of leather on the seats is also wonderful and there’s adjustable back and thigh support. We really liked them.

The interior is surprisingly spacious and really comfortable

The layout of the interior is typically BMW, but that’s far from a bad thing. There’s a nice matte wood effect along the doors and across the dash and looks great. Everything inside the GT also feels good, with quality materials and an attention to detail.

PRACTICALITY

There are moderate sized door pockets in the front and a handy drawer in the wide centre console that would carry mobile phones or iPods. Two cup holders and a slightly odd-shaped space under the arm rest.

The back seats are worthy of special mention – there is absolutely loads of space in the back of the GT. The centre armrest folds down and has plenty of storage space and two cupholders in it. There are rear door pockets in the back too. The rear seats recline individually as well as sliding forward and backwards.

There's loads of room in the back, as well as some very cool reclining seats

The two-part tailgate opens either like a hatchback or a sedan depending on the access needed, and the bulkheads between the rear seats and the boot folds down almost completely flat for extra space in the rear. It’s a very versatile system that gives up to 1,700 litres of space. With the seats up and moved back, you get 440 litres, or 590 with them shifted forward. If we were really picky, we’d ask for a bit more than that, but it’s certainly not small.

FEATURES

The car we tested was loaded with kit including a useful head-up display, adaptive cruise control that was very smooth in its velocity changes – no jerkiness here.

The lane departure warning system gives the steering wheel a rumble if you cross a white lane marker line without indicating. The effect is similar to driving over a rumble strip and is a slightly different approach from other, similar systems that sound an alarm or gently nudge the car back into lane. This is our preferred way of doing it; it doesn’t interfere with the steering but does let you know that something’s going on. It’s impressive.

We'd like the boot to be slightly larger, but it's not exactly small

The reversing camera system uses a bird’s eye view of the car and its surroundings displayed on the screen. It’s very useful when parking to be able to see what’s around you. There are also two cameras on the front of the car looking to either side, which are useful if you’re pulling out of a space with an obstructed view.

The back had a rear-seat entertainment system with two eight-inch monitors and a DVD player and the GT rides on 18-inch wheels as standard (the more powerful 550i gets 19s).

SAFETY

Standard safety equipment includes electronic stability control, ABS and traction control as well as front, side and curtain airbags. Active headrests, which help protect against whiplash injury, and a tyre pressure monitoring system are also included.

No crash test information was available at the time of writing.

We're not sure we'll ever get used to that large behind. But we forgive it

COSTS

It’s quite hard to categorise the GT as it has aspects of SUV, sedan and hatchback to it. The cost for the 535i we drove is 315,000AED, which puts it in a similar market to the entry-level BMW X6 (330,000AED). If you want similar levels of practicality without the high ground clearance, the GT’s an interesting alternative but it does seem quite expensive for the size of machine that it is.

Other similarly priced SUVs include the more powerful Range Rover Vogue (325,000) and the Mercedes-Benz GL range (300,000-321,850AED).

Sedan-wise, the BMW 730Li is exactly the same price at 315,000AED while the Mercedes-Benz S300 is only fractionally more expensive at 316,710AED. The much-more powerful but smaller Jaguar XFR is 300,000AED.

With an official combined fuel economy of 8.9 litres per 100km, the GT has a theoretical range of around 785km from its 70-litre fuel tank.

BMW offers a two-year unlimited mileage warranty on the GT. Major services are due every 20,000-25,000km and will cost around 800AED to 1,000AED at the time of writing.

2010 BMW GT 535i

Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder
Max power (bhp/rpm): 300/5,800
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 400/1,200-5,000
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Driven wheels: Rear-wheel drive
Kerb weight: 2,015kg
Price (AED): 315,000

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