Test Drives

BMW 535i Gran Turismo review

SINGAPORE – It was just two issues ago in CB #212 that we sampled the revised BMW 5 Series and 5 Series Gran Turismo. You still can’t sum it up in once sentence, but that in itself is no impediment to a car being good. You can’t really say what a smartphone is capable of in one sentence either, but everybody’s using them.

It reminds me of a Beatles song by Paul McCartney ‘Get Back’ which is essentially nonsense when it comes to lyrics and the chorus (‘Get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged’). Like the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo (5 GT), the first time I experienced it I thought it was a bunch of tosh.

But thankfully the 5 GT, like Mr McCartney and his compositions, has gotten better with age. It’s the first of the refreshed (or in BMW-speak, Life Cycle Impulse, i.e. face-lifted) BMW 5 Series family that we’ve gotten our dirty paws on, ironically since the 5 GT runs on a 7 Series platform rather than sharing innards with the F10.

The headlights on all 5 Series are now standard xenons, although this car has adaptive LED units as standard, while the grille surrounds are now subtly different as is the bumper. The massive rear hatch has been re-designed and now affords more space (500 compared to 400-litres before) and you can do the magic kick to open the boot hands-free now, and you can also open the split-folding tail-gate if you want to stow less bulky items.

With its size and tall dimensions you can also stow almost any size or shape of passenger in the cavernous rear seats. They will be pampered indeed, with masses of leg and headroom, adjustable seats and their own air-conditioning, plus privacy blinds. You could easily fit five with room to spare for luggage, but if the big GT ever becomes a pack mule, you can fold down the rear seats for 1,500-litres of luggage space, or enough beer to drown half of Bavaria. Well, maybe a very small Bavaria. But BMW got the tone and feel of a spacious, luxury cabin spot on here, with the right amount of wood, leather and light (thanks to big windows all round and a panoramic sunroof). At night the entire thing lights up like a ship’s cabin when getting in or out, the same goes for the boot which has a hatch-mounted spotlight, so you can see everything clear as day.

New to the cabin is an upgraded version of the iDrive controller – it’s now larger and incorporates a touch-sensitive surface so you can scroll and spell out place names without feeling like a confused bank robber.

Given the great ride quality, it’s the sort of car you can drive or be driven in with ease. The adaptive suspension and drive modes (Sport+, Sport, Comfort, Comfort+ and Eco, and each one has a noticeable difference, too) lend a large amount of flexibility and talent to the 5 GT, so you can waft along in silent comfort or bomb down back roads with ease – the superb 306bhp 3.0-litre engine and eight-speed gearbox too, always have an answer for the driver’s needs, as does the light, feelsome steering.

So just like in the song, the 5 GT has gotten back to where its 7 Series platform heritage always implied it should belong – as a great driving, comfortable and effortless grand tourer. Yet it’s grown to gain advantages over its progenitor, too, considering a 730Li costs about $20k more but has considerably less practical applications. GT back, indeed.  

BMW 535i Gran Turismo


Engine 2,979cc, 24V, turbocharged, inline 6
Power 306bhp at 5800-6000rpm
Torque 400Nm at 1200-5000rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 6.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.2L/100km
CO2 192g/km
Price $370,800 with COE

Also Consider: Porsche Panamera 3.6, Audi A7 Sportback, BMW X6 xDrive35i

 Photos by Derryn Wong

about the author

Derryn Wong
Has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. Is particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats.