BMW 535i Executive Gran Turismo

Price: £45,030
Top speed: 155mph 0-60mph 6.3 seconds
Consumption: 31.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 209g/km
Best for: discerning Americans
Also worth considering? BMW 5 Series estate, BMW X5, Mercedes R Class

Everybody knows what a BMW is. No other brand has been honed as carefully as this one. No other badge conveys as precisely as the blue and white quartered circle what the car that bears it stands for. But it wasn't always so. Back in the Fifties and Sixties, the company's range was much more diverse than it is today; there was the Isetta, for example, a bubble car based on an Italian design, and the 700, which was broadly comparable with the British Hillman Imp.

It's as well to approach the new 5 Series Gran Turismo with that broader, longer-term perspective of what a BMW can be, because this new car is quite unlike anything else the Bavarian manufacturer has made before. Like the Isetta, the 5 GT is in a sense, a bubble car. But while in the case of the Isetta, the word bubble refers to the car's large glass area and bulbous form, in the case of the Gran Turismo, it describes the overheated economic conditions that produced it. Car manufacturers are always doing this sort of thing – optimistically cooking up expensive super-cars and niche products in the good times that then end up being launched during a slump.

The GT is such a niche car; it is aimed at those buyers who find a saloon or estate such as a BMW 5 Series impractical but who don't want to be seen in a big SUV like BMW's X5. I thought Mercedes had already proved this niche didn't exist with its R Class crossover but the 5 GT turns out to be rather different to the Merc. It's a commodious hatchback that puts a lot of emphasis on the comfort of rear-seat passengers, which puts it quite close in concept, if not in terms of execution, to the now defunct Vauxhall Signum.

And that execution is superb. From its beautiful cabin to its slick eight-speed gearbox, the GT is an immensely polished and practical product; it's just that it's not very sporty and it doesn't look like it should be carrying a BMW badge, a feeling that not even the marvellously powerful straight-six engine fitted to the 535i variant I tested can dispel.

Will the 5 GT succeed? Good as it is, I'm not sure how many Europeans will buy one. But I suspect that the Americans, who like something big and practical, and are far less impressed than we are by fussy notions of what premium brands stand for, could develop quite an appetite for it.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living