Road Test: BMW 520d Gran Turismo M Sport
Sector: Executive Price: £40,305 Fuel: 53.3mpg CO2: 139g/km
Next to the excellent 5 Series range, and the equally popular X5 and X6 SUVs, the 5 Series Gran Turismo may seem like an unnecessary niche to fill, and a sizeable price hike against its sharper-driving saloon and Touring siblings. But arguably it’s one of the most unrecognised bargains in the BMW range.
Arguably it’s a victim of slightly confusing badging. This is 100mm longer in wheelbase and 41mm wider in track than the 5 Series Touring, both of which are the figures that dictate interior space, and both are identical to the 7 Series. So think of this more as a 7 Series fastback, with coupe-style pillarless doors, and suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so steep.
Especially now it’s got an efficient diesel at the entry point to the range. The 5 GT has traditionally suffered from a choice of large, 7 Series-derived, engines. At the end of last year, it grew to include the very capable 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel, which brought CO2 emissions down to 139g/km, fuel consumption down to 53.3mpg and significantly it’s introduced the entry-level 520d GT SE at £37,005.
In M Sport form, as tested here, the 520d GT costs £40,305, which adds sports styling, subtle M badging and sports front seats. While that’s almost £5,000 more expensive than a 520d Touring in the same spec, it’s £9,300 cheaper than the equivalent 530d GT, which in turn is £14,000 cheaper than a 730d M Sport. If you can live with the looks, and downsizing to a smaller engine, the 520d GT offers 7 Series luxury for almost £24,000 less than the M-styled entry point of BMW’s largest saloon car.
There are reasons why people haven’t sat up and taken notice, though. This is an ungainly-looking car from the outside, but the large rear-end offers more storage space with the seats folded flat than the 5 Series Touring and the powered tailgate makes even the largest loads easy to get inside. This can also be opened like a stubby saloon boot, though only using a button on the keyfob, which is a little gimmicky but quite useful for stopping the contents of your boot getting wet with the hatch upright.
The Gran Turismo also weighs in at around 300kg more than the Touring, and it shows on the road. It doesn’t feel quite as tight as either the saloon or Touring, but bites back with sublime high speed comfort and refinement. The four-cylinder engine doesn’t blunt this much, either, happily hauling its two-tonnes around and returning mid-40s to the gallon on long trips. There’s a little bit of diesel noise at low speeds and high throttle loads, but it’s otherwise unintrusive, helped by the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Arguably that’s the most important point. The 5 Series Gran Turismo may not be the best looking of BMW’s executive models, but behind the wheel you’re unlikely to care too much. This offers the trappings of class-above motoring for a considerably lower price, and with this new diesel engine it now has the right drivetrain for the corporate market too.
A 22% Benefit-in-Kind liability and 35% residual values are still behind the equivalent 520d Touring, but the Gran Turismo represents surprisingly good value for money if you can live with its bulky bodywork. Practical, frugal and with luxury-class comfort in its favour, it’s worth a look.