Bringing together the qualities of a big saloon car and a luxury SUV, the 530d GT is an interesting option for buyers who have found that neither category of car has quite fulfilled their needs. Predictably well-engineered and with a nice line in practicality, the car isn't the most attractive thing to look at and can only seat four comfortably but the strong and now more powerful diesel engine works a treat with the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
There are some great engines in the BMW portfolio and even this 5 Series GT model's volume diesel unit is a cracker. The 530d GT is powered by the brand's seemingly ever-present 3.0-litre common-rail turbo diesel. Here, it's generating 258bhp, 13bhp more than before and enough to take the big GT through 60mph in under seven seconds before locking horns with the laws of physics at 149mph. The engine is extremely smooth as you surf around on the vast 560Nm wave of torque and the eight-speed automatic gearbox eases almost imperceptibly between the ratios. There's some noise from the suspension and the road but the engine keeps its council remarkably well, only rising to distant roar when the throttle is given a determined prod.
The GT features Dynamic Drive Control as standard. It's a system which adjust the settings of the gearbox, throttle, steering and dampers according to the mode selected by the driver. There are Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings to get to grips with and they do have a significant impact on the way the GT feels on the road. What they can't do is turn the substantial 5 Series GT into a sportscar.
The driver is sat in an elevated seating position somewhere between that of a conventional saloon and an SUV. It affords a good view out of the front but can't do much at the rear where the small angled screen and thick C-pillars seriously restrict your field of vision. The GT produces a comfortable ride on good surfaces and lets you know that the road has deteriorated when it does. It can't equal the ride quality of BMW's saloon cars and it's the same in the handling department where there's more body roll than would be ideal. Well weighted steering and brakes with plenty of feel add to the experience but the car still feels closer to a large but well-balanced SUV than a sporty saloon car on the road.
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Much of the exterior styling effort has gone into disguising the inherent bulk of the 5 Series GT but despite the frameless side windows and the plunging roofline at the rear, it still looks a serious piece of metal. The bulbous bodywork dwarfs the wheels from some angles and it stops the GT appearing particularly elegant or sporty – like a less aggressive X6 on 15" rolling stock.
Is there no limit to BMW's ambition? Recent years have seen the marque expanding its model range into all possible sectors of the car market and quite a few improbable ones as well. Excellently engineered though it is, the 5 Series GT doesn't appear to be a car that buyers of executive saloons and luxury SUVs were crying out for. A cross between the two schools of vehicle design, it's an unusual blend but one that may be exactly what a very small number of buyers want.
The 530d GT is definitely the model to go for with its effortless performance and modest running costs. It's hard to make a case for the more powerful petrol models in the 5 Series GT range, especially in a car that never really encourages you to use the performance it has. The smooth, torquey diesel seems a fine match for this big, practical BMW that isn't quite sure what it wants to be.