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BMW 5 Series GT slips below $100K

Niche player: BMW hopes to find more homes for its 5 Series Gran Turismo with a new entry-level model.

Struggling BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo gains cheaper four-cylinder variant

BMW logo31 Jul 2012

BMW’S search for customers for its slow-selling 5 Series Gran Turismo continues to move downmarket with the introduction this week of a new 520d entry-level model.

Priced from $89,900 before on road costs, the 520d GT sees the series slip below $100,000 for the first time.

Higher up the range, the continuing but upgraded 530d and 535i GT variants benefit from efficiency gains, increased equipment levels and fresh options as the luxury sedan/wagon crossover attempts to broaden its buyer base significantly.

The 520d also introduces four-cylinder power to Australian-bound GTs in the guise of BMW’s flexible 2.0-litre ‘TwinPower’ engine.

Driving the rear wheels via the usual eight-speed automatic transmission, the 520d employs a twin-scroll turbocharger and common-rail direct injection technology to deliver 135kW of power and 380Nm of torque.

It can sprint to 100km/h from standstill in 8.9 seconds, returning combined consumption of 5.3 litres per 100km and carbon dioxide emissions of 139 grams per kilometre.

Meanwhile, the 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel with common-rail direct injection and variable turbine geometry technology gets a power increase of 10kW to 190kW while torque is increased by 20Nm to 560Nm.

Despite the extra performance, consumption falls 0.7L/100km to 5.8L/100km while CO2 drops from 173g/km to 153g/km.

Finally, while the 535i GT’s 3.0-litre direct-injection twin-scroll turbo-six petrol unit still produces 225kW and 400Nm, it now consumes 0.7L/100km less fuel (8.2L/100km) and pumps out 17g/km less pollution (192g/km).

All drivetrains now boast additional ‘Efficient Dynamics’ measures such as idle-stop and electric power steering.

BMW’s ‘Driving Experience Control’ with Eco Pro mode has also been introduced, allowing the driver to switch between economy, comfort and sport drivetrain settings, with the economy mode said to cut consumption by up to 20 per cent.

On the safety front, the company’s ‘Active Protection Safety Package’ pre-crash system is standard, preparing the car from speeds above 18km/h for a possible impact by tensioning the seatbelts and – in an imminent incident – closing all windows and the sunroof.

Using a camera and/or radar, it can also apply necessary braking force and even appropriate steering help to prevent a crash, or minimise the impact if one is unavoidable, then keeping the brakes applied for 1.5 seconds afterwards to reduce a subsequent collision.

New optional features are available, including BMW’s Parking Assistant (which automatically steers the car into a parking spot), a top-end Bang & Olufsen surround sound audio system, and an M Sport Package that includes sport suspension, sports seats, a body kit, 20-inch alloy wheels and interior features such as an M Sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles.

These developments arrive on top of last September’s range realignment that saw a $40,000-plus price slash for the 530d and 535i GTs, which previously started from $144,200 and $151,400 respectively, while the $192,900 550i GT was dropped from the line-up.

To help lower the price at that time, BMW removed the previously standard top-end audio system, six-disc DVD changer, ‘Comfort Access’ entry and lighting system, lumbar support, seat heating, adaptive headlights, high-beam assist, voice control interface, anti-dazzle mirrors and metallic paint.

That resulted in GT sales doubling to 44 units in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same period last year.

Now the company hopes it can finally achieve the 150 annual sales target originally envisaged back at the series’ March 2010 launch.

BMW Australia head of public relations Piers Scott believes the cheaper entry-level 520d will put the whole GT range on the radar of luxury SUV as well as mid-size sedan buyers for the first time.

“It greatly broadens the appeal of the GT,” he told GoAuto this week.

“The lack of awareness has been a major challenge. Now the 520d brings it to a very attractive price point.

“Whether before it wasn’t a consideration, the 520d is now priced to appeal to people who might be in the market for something like a mid-range 5 Series, E-class or A6.”

Among the Gran Turismo’s SUV-based rivals are the Audi Q7, Lexus RX, and Mercedes’ M-Class and R-Class models.

The R-Class, another oddball German luxury crossover generally seen as the GT’s closest rival, has comprehensively outsold the GT since launch, racking up 631 sales since the start of 2010 compared with only 203 sales for the BMW.

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo pricing (plus on-roads):
520d GT (a)$89,900
530d GT (a)$103,500
5351 GT (a)$109,400

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