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2010 BMW 5 Series GT Review: One Vehicle Combining Multiple Personas - VIDEO ENHANCED

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By Marty Bernstein

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Marty Bernstein

First in a series of three reviews of new BMW vehicles. The others can be accessed by clicking BMW X6 M and BMW 760Li.

Finding a market for a new car today are daunting tasks for all auto manufacturers no matter if its inexpensive vehicles or expensive exotics and everything in between. Yet BMW, the iconic ultimate driving machine brand, in the past couple of months has introduced three different, yet definitely new BMW’s.

And based on personal experience, everyone is a winner. This is not a “trifecta” in which a horse racing fan bets on the precise 1st, 2nd and 3rd finishes it a particular race. This is a trio of individual winners. Each of the new Beemer’s has a distinct personality and appeal.

There’s the European inspired, multi-faceted new category car in the 5 Series GT, the ultra luxurious 760LTi and the powerful X6M SUV. All add appeal to an already appealing brand. This review covers the new 5 Series GT.

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2010 BMW 5 Series GT – One Vehicle Combing Multiple Personas

My first experience in the new GT was in the rear seats, not in the drivers or front passenger seats – a rather different first ride/drive perspective but one which set the tone of this review. Why in the back seat? A group of American auto journalists were being shuttled from the airport in Lisbon, Portugal to a hotel outside the city, a ride of some 25 kilometers in very heavy rush hour traffic.

The impression from that ride and actual driving the next day was that American buyers are either going to love this unique combination of a GT - Gran Turismo, sports activity vehicle and prestigious saloon (that’s Euro-speak) for sedan or not like it. Yes, it is different, but in a good way, which could start a new trend in design and engineering. Here’s why.

First there’s the distinctive styling. From the side it looks like a stretched coupe with a slightly curved but sleek roof line that moves to the rear end spoiler and drops to it’s functional two piece tailgate. The bodylines run smoothly from the front and hood toward the rear of the car, emulating motion. And that smooth, slightly convex shape on the hood is known as the Power Dome. More about what’s underneath the dome later.

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The front, which others will see in their rear view mirrors as it zooms past, uses the easily recognized the low-slung BMW kidney grille, the large air intakes, and the recognizable dual round headlights of the brand. For the first time the headlights are surrounded by corona made of LEDs. Think of it as an illuminated design, a design I believe will become a BMW style-mark.

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The interior of the GT is amazingly roomy with a slightly elevated seating position in both very comfortable front and rear seats and both are adjustable. Yes, in the back too. Individually adjustable back seats tilt forward or backward up to 4” for added comfort and leg room. We were told the GT has the leg room of the 7-series. This is a very nice quality attribute that will enhance the riding experience for passengers.

Getting in the car is simple: just put your posterior on the seat and move your legs forward. No stooping, bending, creeping – just get in. Once In the front seats, there is a similar luxurious experience of comfort, space and quality features as the back seats.

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There’s lots of head room, as much as the X5, which is adds to the open feeling of the two zone glass roof. All the materials evidence well conceived and executed in implementation through use of materials and colors. The drivers panel of instruments and dials use Black Panel technology which is very easy to read in daytime or in the night. There’s a large 10.2” panel for the iDrive control display... and for the first time, nary a complaint about the iDrive – I’ve learned to love it. Honest.

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The special two part tailgate – and that is not term of derision – which makes loading and unloading baggage, packages, golf clubs and just plain stuff very easy. Smaller things go in the top part, bigger in the bottom. And it holds a helluva lot too. It’s made for traveling.

Now to the heart of the new 5 Series GT, a new generation of engines. There are two gasoline powered engines, a new straight-six with twin-power turbo and high precision Injection and Valvetronic that powers out at 306 hp. The top engine is V8 with 407 hp also with twin-power turbos and high precision fuel injection and BMW’s Valvetronic. And of course, there’s an extremely economical six-cylinder diesel delivering with 245 hp.

All BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo’s are equipped with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that was first used in the new BMW 760LTi, which has an awesome 12 cylinder engine. See below for this review.

As one might expect this is sensational driving machine! On the roads of Portugal, which range from super smooth, straight and multi-lane expressways to super rough, narrow and winding two laners, the GT moved easily and responsively no matter the speed or surface. Driving in both the country – amazing sights through wonderful little villages on hillsides or the on the water, to hill climbs and descents, not a hitch.

And driving in the city of Lisbon was similar to any major U.S. city, but without good signage. My only driving complaint is the size and shape of the rear window which is a bit of a distraction.

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The BMW 5 Series GT is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. later this year but the base price has not yet been released. There will be a variety of optional personal comfort, infotainment and driving accessories too.