If you had £50,000 to spend on a large BMW, what would you buy? You can take your pick from a 5 Series saloon, a Touring estate, an X5 or an X6 – most of us wouldn’t choose the 5 Series Gran Turismo, though.
The luxury crossover has been a sales disaster for BMW. Those used to estate cars haven’t found its hatchback body practical enough, while the only slightly raised ride height has failed to convince SUV fans.
To inject some much-needed interest into the GT, BMW is now offering it in M Sport form. This adds 19-inch alloys, a bodykit and M Sport interior trim – and another £3,300 to the price, taking it to £48,890.
We tried the 530d GT M Sport, which is powered by a 245bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel engine. Walk up to it, and you could be forgiven for thinking that BMW hadn’t upgraded the wheels after all – it’s such a big car that it makes 19-inch alloys seem relatively modest. Yet the five-spoke wheels look great and the bodykit is subtle yet muscular.
Inside, there’s an M Sport steering wheel. M Sport also brings lowered and stiffened suspension – but our car had optional £2,265 Adaptive Drive adaptive dampers, which deletes this set-up. It’s a costly option but makes a significant difference to the driving experience, giving you Comfort, Comfort+, Sport and Sport+ modes. So this is one M-badged car that can ride like a pillow-soft limousine one moment and totally change its character the next.
While the ability to perform several roles is appealing, even when you activate the stiffest and sportiest setting, the GT still feels too big and inert to be a properly involving driver’s car.
The engine is just as good as we remember it from other 5 Series. With 540Nm of torque, it pulls like a train from idle. Its noise rarely rises above a distant rumble and it works smoothly with the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll even deliver 40mpg.
Two adjustable rear seats provide plenty of room for tall passengers, while the panoramic glass roof adds to the luxury feel. The split tailgate can open like a saloon or a full hatch, but there’s only 440 litres of boot space with the seats up: 120 litres less than in the regular 5 Series Touring.
While this is the best 5 Series GT, most of those with £50,000 to spend will still go elsewhere.