The Gran Turismo combines the best elements of a crossover alongside those of a Coupe and Sedan. The resulting vehicle delivers a refined design, higher seating position, increased luggage capacity, and a rear tailgate that can be opened like a sedan or a hatchback.
It's all executed in a handsome package and the underlying high-style character is closer to that of a coupe.
Of course, 'coupe' is the last thing that comes to mind as occupants get seated. Entry and exit require only a lateral slide-- no stepping up or down. The 550i GT's wide body enables generous space at each seat, and wood trim, gorgeous leather and soft-to-the-touch materials greet the eyes and fingertips throughout.
The only complaint after an initial test drive dealt with limited rearward visibility-- though the car is fitted with a backup camera for assistance.
There's plenty of room for five, though an optional rear seating configuration replaces the 3-person bench with 2 individual seats and a centre-mounted organizer. At the owner's request, this setup gives those in the back more personal space and a more intimate experience with the 550i GT.
Drivers call the 550i GT's 4.4 liter, 400 horsepower V8 engine into action with the press of a button. The advanced powerplant features valve timing and direct injection, and it's also partnered with a new 8-speed automatic transmission. With two more gears than the current norm, performance and efficiency are enhanced.
Driven spiritedly, the 550i GT feels more locked into the road's surface and less like it's merely rolling over it. The overall driving character is involving, confident and tranquil-- but sporty and agile when required.
Plenty of German-engineered performance is on constant standby. In fact, upon summoning the 550i GT's 'Sport Plus' drive mode from a toggle switch, one can actually feel the car stiffening up, inhaling and becoming more alert beneath them. The throttle, steering, suspension and transmission all go into a heightened state of awareness that ready the car for high-speed maneuvers.
Drivers can even send gear-shift commands to the transmission via a set of paddles mounted to the steering wheel, just like a race car.
When called upon, the engine firmly and swiftly presses torsos to seatbacks while emitting fantastic Hollywood movie car-chase sound effects. The powerplant is fitted with twin turbochargers, so it's fierce when requested, but exceptionally efficient when drivers aren't in a rush.
After all, BMW's Efficient Dynamics philosophy is strong at work here. Engineers have fitted it with a variety of tools, like brake energy regeneration that can save fuel and emissions while boosting performance. Ultimately, the mileage and performance experienced is up to the driver's right foot.
Those who don't require the punch of a 400 horsepower engine can opt for BMW's new N85 engine shortly after the 550i GT launches. The newly-revised 3-liter twin-turbo gas engine operates with the same eye for efficiency as the V8, though it produces a more modest 300 horsepower. The automaker's xDrive AWD system will be available with either engine, too.
The BMW 550i GT is on sale now with a starting price of $79,600.