This post has been floating around here at BimmerFile as a draft for some time now, but we now feel that we have proper photos to accompany it. The reason for the delay is simple: photos of preproduction cars do not truly depict the car as some of the angles, lines and materials are not up to BMW quality (as can be expected from a “beta ” car) and sometimes it is difficult to look beyond that. In an effort to be as objective as possible we obtained photos of production vehicles.[pictobrowser bimmerfile 72157621989287308]
The 550i GT will be launched in the US this coming December just in time for the holiday shopping blitz. We will not see the 535i GT, powered by the newly developed N55 inline six SINGLE twin scroll turbo with valvetronic, stateside until sometime late spring of 2010. The EU will feature a diesel model which we will more than likely will not see; period. For all of you in the snow belt, you will have to wait a bit if you desire AWD.Your version in xDrive guise will arrive fall of 2010, a year after the 7 in xDrive.
We have fielded many questions from readers as to what the point of this model is and what the target market will be. The purpose is quite apparent once you experience the car in person.It is a Lear Jet for the road with more storage and flexibility than anything else available. It is a sedan with a backpack. It offers a higher driving position (think Land Rover Command Seating) than a regular model and less than an SUV; it is the the middle of the road and it truly works. The target market is a bit less obvious and we will get into that later.
Luxury with function is the best way to describe the concept of this car. It may come as a surprise to many, but this car has more luxury than a 7. It has the same leg room, materials and a similar design with tweaks that make it even better. Like to look up and see sky? The huge panoramic roof allows anyone to do just that. Need all the latest in technology and creature comforts? Your covered there as well, including technology that the 7 does not have: LED halos, 360 degree overhead view for parking, mood like interior lighting and more. This vehicle will be the new luxury standard, especially with the massaging/ventilated seat options checked.
The rear trunk/hatch is a huge departure from everything that has come before. The rear hatch trunk concept is simply brilliant. It keeps what is in the trunk separate from the passenger compartment while allowing the flexibility of storage capacity and passenger space. The rear seat can move fore and aft, from 5 series leg room to almost 7Li with the rear trunk wall following the seats lead. The rear seats/middle console, depending on if you have chosen a 3 across bench or 2 luxurious buckets, fold flat providing unimpeded cargo carrying capacity along the lines of an X6. The sedan-like trunk lid is made of Carbon Reinforced Plastic to keep it lightweight. BMW has even developed specialized seals for the hatch/trunk to keep noise levels down and the cold out- a really trick concept when you analyze it a bit.
The drive is superb. Much like the 7 (which it shares its wheel base and underpinnings with) it features Adaptive Drive to tune the chassis, engine mapping and shift points to your liking or mood. The new 8 speed transmission is silky smooth and is capable of multiple downshifts, rather than going gear to gear and playing the hunt and peck game so many other brands do with their 7-8 speeds. Simply put, it drives like a BMW. This GT will be the first in the US to offer a glass mat battery and brake energy regeneration. This technology is good for 2% increase in fuel economy.Add that to the 2% the 8 speed earns you and you now have what Efficient Dynamics is all about: making a change here and there to net some improvement across the fleet rather than just in a single vehicle.
This is where this gets a bit tricky. We have all been led to belief that this vehicle is for those that are getting up there in age. Some have joked that this car is for only those with AARP membership cards. That is not to say it will not appeal to those that are younger with a family that do not want a mini-van or SUV to take the little ones back and forth to practice. A real estate agent that transports clients to homes would also approve.This auto would also make a great replacement for all those decade-old Town Cars still serving as livery transports. There is a much larger market out there for a car that offers the luxury and flexibility the Gran Turismo does than one would initially think. What this is not is an SAV, or an R class Mercedes Benz, it has its own place and it may turn out to be a great concept if offered in variable sizes as this version is a bit on the LARGE size.
We purposely saved this portion of our brief intro for last as it is the main sticking point with BMW enthusiasts. The GT has been referred to by many as the BMW Aztek, and that cannot be further from the truth. The real issue seems to be that this model does not like the camera. It is like a beautiful looking woman who ‘s eyes are always closed in photos. The organic nature of the lines, the way the light hits it along the rear third just does not photograph well, or the photographs BMW marketing in Germany chose to show the car do not at least. It is much better looking in person. It is a large car and in a smaller (3er size) it may look even better, more along the lines of say a Mazda 3 in terms of rear third proportions.
The concept makes sense. The drive is excellent. The luxury is second to none. The execution in final form will be outstanding. The look is still up for debate but it is not as bad as was once believed. In the end beauty is in the eye of the beholder, just note that this car should not be compared to the boxy ugly Aztek… there is no comparison what-so-ever.
Editor ‘s note: For many months we have heard about this vehicle and I loved the concept of wagon-like utilityand my wife liked the idea of it not looking like a wagon (since she dislikes the look of wagons immensely). We thought it was near the perfect compromise for us until finally seeing the press images. We both gawked at it and could not understand what BMW did with this car from a looks standpoint. I had all but written it off, then I saw it in person and was able to experience it fully. I was sold. She could not wrap her hands around it still as having not seen or experienced it; then she did. She is now a huge fan of the car and the overall execution of the concept. We are not in our 50s or 60s, but when it comes to our views we both often place function and practicality over form and trend.[pictobrowser motoringfile 72157618624902088]
Photos: CheapTrick & Heggi