Mike Stevens | May 24, 2009

BMW HAS RELEASED the first official pics of the 5 Series Gran Turismo and, in typical Beemer fashion, the media release says the eight-speed auto 550i GT offers a unique blend of style, space, luxury and sportiness.

And who are we to argue?

Going against the grain of the more prosaic 5 Series Touring, the GT offers the elevated seating and packaging of an SUV, as well as the handy addition of a lift back. The two-piece boot uses a patented hinging process that allows for both a small porthole opening or a more conventional wide-open lift gate.

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Unlike the concept, the production model is a five-seater, although a pair of individual power-adjustable rear seats are available as an option. It’s also the first four-door BMW to sport frameless door windows.

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The 550i Gran Turismo is powered by a 4.4-litre turbocharged V8 engine - the same as installed in the new 7 Series and BMW X6. It develops 294kW and 610Nm, and helps the car sprint from 0-100kmh in 5.4 seconds.

A 180kW diesel-powered 530d Gran Turismo will sit at the bottom end of the engine line-up, while the BMW's outstanding 225kW twin-turbo six will be fitted to the 535i Gran Turismo

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BMW has also shoehorned its brand-new eight-speed automatic into the GT's transmission tunnel, which gives a spread of ratios wide enough to deliver both performance and economy.

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The interior is described as spacious, with legroom similar to BMW's 7 Series and headroom almost matching the X5. The almost crossover-like proportions of the GT do much to maximise interior room and improve outward visibility.

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The 5 Series GT rides on McPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension, with air springs. Buyers can choose between regular hydraulic steering or opt for an advanced rear-wheel-steer system similar to that found on the 7 Series.

Other options include BMW's Adaptive Drive system, which links electronically controlled dampers with active anti-roll stabilization.

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And then there’s the usual long list of BMW standard safety features, including: Xenon Adaptive headlights with auto-leveling, cornering lights, automatic headlight control, halogen fog lights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, adaptive brake lights, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes, run-flat tyres and pressure monitor, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors and dynamic control.

Expect a December US release for the BMW 5 Series GT. There's no word on a local release date just yet, but we'll find that out shortly. Stay tuned.

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