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2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i Preview

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i(select to view enlarged photo)
2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i

SEE ALSO: Complete Jim O'Donnell APA BMW Presentation
SEE ALSO: BMW Buyers Guide

Special to The Auto Channel
by Bruce Hubbard
Auto Advisor Group

Detroit September 1, 2009; Jim O’Donnell, CEO of BMW stated "The US is our (BMW's) single largest market, accounting for over 20% of the company’s sales," the with the premium segment growing in the US, and with Europe down the US market is important to BMW.

BMW is the luxury brand of the youth market. BMW is a believer in clean diesel technology and will bring to the United States at least three models in 2010. It seems that BMW, Audi and Volkswagen all have the belief that diesels will some day be important in the USA...I agree and if customers have driven some of the new models that we have been fortunate enough to drive they would also be believers in diesels.

Over the past few years BMW has shown us hydrogen run BMW models, and have shown us the Mini E(electric)Vehicle and are working with hybrids and expect to bring to the US market an X series and a 7 Series hybrid.

Jim stated that BMW is committed to the American market and is proud of what they have accomplished in their factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where they manufacture the X5, X 6 and the Z4.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

Because of this production BMW is the largest exporter of cars in the US, and now with a $1 Billion dollar expansion at their US facility BMW will be able to produce even more cars in America.

I have just enjoyed a day with a new BMW model known as the Gran Turismo. BMW will offer the 5 Series Gran Turismo for sale in December in the US as the newest member of the 5 Series, shown not long ago as a concept at the Geneva Auto Show. Our pre-production test 550i Gran Turismo is 90% of the final production model to be shown off at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

Estimated to sell for $65,000 to $70,000 dollars. The four-door hatchback is unique. The windows do not have frames on this 2010 5 Series Gran Turismo model. The trunk in the 5 Series Gran Turismo BMW calls a “bi mode”. It can be accessed in a unique way. Bottom section can open alone as seen in the photo attached. But, then the power hatch can be opened to offer plenty of room to access cargo. In the rear buttons allow for the second row seats to fall quickly opening up even more cargo space. Seats up cargo space are around 15 cubic feet. Folded seats offer nearly 60 cubic feet of cargo space.

The second hatchback to come from BMW in the last year. The coupe like design was created to offer a wonderful sculpted luxurious vehicle with elegance, space, and comfort. Flexibility is a plus and BMW hopes to bring in customers who already drive a luxurious sedan and or a SUV and want something different that offers performance and luxury.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

I had two different 5 Series Gran Turismo models. One model is a four seater and the other is a 5 seater. Both are superb. The four seater has bucket seats in front and rear. The rear compartment has a larger center armrest. On that model it also had entertainment system that was in the front seat headrests for the passengers to view. All can watch the same entertainment when the vehicle is parked. The large 10.2 inch navigational monitor converts to a TV screen in park. The navigational system is the same as the 2009 upgraded system seen in the 7 Series BMW. State of the art system was developed internally. BMW developed the software to meet their demands according to Matthew Russell at BMW communications in New Jersey. Hard drive based navigation system with voice activation and real time traffic information are included in system.

The quality and fit and finish on the exterior are perfect. Design BMW states for the 5 Series Gran Turismo shows some of the X6 and parts of the 7 Series. It has a striking waistline combined with the coupe like roofline. Best of both turns the 5 Series Gran Turismo with the twin turbo into a sports car that has the best of BMW’s suspension and cargo space of the X6.

The performance of the Gran Turismo 550i's comes from twin-turbo direct-injected 4.4-liter V-8, which puts out 400 bhp and 450 lb.-ft. of torque.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

Combined with an 8-speed automatic transmission, BMW says the 550i Gran Turismo will hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The rear wheel drive 5 Series Gran Turismo will be a performance model. Engineers stated to me the second engine, may be the 306 horsepower twin-turbo six from the X6 next or a newer six cylinder. Hopefully in a few years perhaps the 265 hp diesel from the 335d be included in the power train offerings.

The 550i Gran Turismo is equipped standard with high-tech features, including 4th-generation iDrive, active suspension and driver-adjustable engine, transmission, power steering and traction control parameters. It's also the first U.S. BMW with Brake Energy Regeneration. The alternator charges the battery when braking.

Sharing the design of the front and rear multilink suspensions with the proven 7 Series the Gran Turismo 5501 benefits from reduced weight in its design. By using aluminum on most of the suspension system weight is reduced in the Gran Turismo 550i.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

I love the large panoramic glass sunroof that actually uses 55% of the roof. Reminds me of the terrific other sunroof offered today by another German carmaker. Audi.

Plenty of legroom and headroom in the new 5 Series Gran Turismo. Legroom in the rear compartment has basically same legroom as the 7 Series. Headroom is similar to that of the X5.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

The photos show the beautiful leather seating surfaces and the familiar I Drive in the center console. The dash and steering wheel have satellite controls.

To make your journey safer 5 Series Gran Turismo has lane departure control and adaptive cruise control. Optional and included in the active lane departure package is an accident avoidance system. Which system I am not sure of yet. In Europe they have a very sophisticated system available. What we get now as part of the4 package is a collision warning system. Another option is “night vision”. Superb system for the back roads that do not have streetlights or even in the mountain regions of the West. Features like adaptive headlamps make BMW even safer.

The 5 Series Gran Turismo offers Blind Spot Avoidance system. Using radar the system scans the area around your car and warns you of a vehicle in your blind spot.

The 5 Series Gran Turismo comes with standard sport run flat tires and superb looking alloy wheels. Standard are 18 inch but you can get 20 inch rims and tires that are optional.

Driver's and passenger's front airbag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with advanced technology: dual-threshold, dual-stage deployment; and front-passenger seat sensors designed to prevent unnecessary airbag deployment

Front safety belts with automatic pretensioners Automatic-locking retractors (ALR) are on all passenger-seat safety belts (for installation of child-restraint seats) Other safety systems include front and rear Head Protection System (HPS) plus, front-seat side-impact airbags and active Knee Protection. In the front seats the 5 Series Gran Turismo gets active Head Restraints.

The rear lights are BMW familiar. L shaped cluster of lights on horizontal rows extend around the rear lights.

2010 BMW Gran Turismo 550i (select to view enlarged photo)

The rear C pillar of the 5 Series Gran Turismo has what some call the Hofmeister Kink. It is a low forward bend in the C-pillar of the car, which is the piece of metal that separates the rear side windows from the rear glass. The kink formally debuted on the 1961 BMW 1500 at the 1961 Frankfurt Motor Show and was later named after then-BMW director of design, Wilhelm Hofmeister.

Apart from its pleasing effect, the Hofmeister kink is said by BMW to subtly highlight the fact that all BMW models have rear-wheel drive (or all-wheel drive biased to the rear).

The 120.7 inch wheelbase of the 5 Series Gran Turismo has many competitive vehicles. A few of the competitive vehicles would be the Infinit FX, Acura MDX, Audi A6 Avant. The US market will get from BMW an all wheel drive Gran Turismo model similar to the one sold in Europe during after the first year.

BMW is expanding dealerships in the US. Mini will soon have nearly 100 dealers up from 82. Rolls Royce has not indicated any more dealers. BMW dealerships are around 320 and will expand if needed. They are driving to be the number one luxury car company in America.

Text and photos by Bruce Hubbard, all rights reserved