What happens when you take a sports sedan and add sprinkles of practicality? You get the 2011 BMW 535i GT. This car lets you carve the corners and allows you to transport the kids in comfort..sounds like a winner in our book.
Nowadays, the trend has shied away from old time station wagons which are seen as obsolete and as fuel prices continue to be on the rise, the trend is also moving away from SUV’s. So to address these concerns, BMW has defied convention and created the 535i GT which combines most of the features from a SUV along with most of the features from a sedan. This combination forms a vehicle that is like a nice pair of jeans- you can still do hard work in them yet when you go to a nice dinner, the jeans oblige.
Initially you look at this car and gasp “ What has BMW done?” Walking around the 535i GT and examining it is much like being at an art gallery. As you stroll around this vehicle you notice it sticks up 2 inches higher and about 4 inches lower than a X5 (61.4 inches) and combined with a length of 196 inches, it should make up for any cargo room shortages.
From an aesthetic point of view it’s kind of a mismatch. The long hood and short trunk reminds us of a modern incarnation of the old BMW 2800 sedans from the late 1960’s.
BMW has clearly thought to make this a true grand tourer and drops hints at some of the amenities hidden within, the first of such luxuries that you notice is the two piece panoramic moon roof and invites you to explore it further.
The interior is very functional yet inviting like sitting in a opera house, because it’s somewhat somber and classy whilst also being exceedingly comfortable. We love that the layout makes all the major controls on the dashboard within easy reach. The seats also tow the fine line of cushion and support, actually pushing you to make a long road journey. The Idrive control center comes standard with this vehicle and while it has gotten better, it still periodically perplexes us with its interface, sometimes it seems really choppy and out of sync. Other than that minor inconvenience, the standard features such as power seating and parking distance control will make parking at the yacht club that much easier. It will fit in when you park it at the marina because this vehicle has more storage space than most ships. With all the seats up there is a astounding 15.5 cu. ft, then when you drop all the seats for that big delivery, you get an amazing 60 cu. ft of cargo space. One major thing we enjoyed about this car is that it had just enough luxury to justify the price tag but not enough to dilute and/or pollute the driving experience.
For a large car (4641lbs) the 535i GT handles exceedingly well. This is due, in part, to its near perfect weight distribution (47.3% front, 52.7% rear) as well its suspension. The suspension consists of an aluminum double wishbone unit in the front and an aluminum integral V multi link unit in the back, as well front and rear stabilizer bars. In addition to this, the 535i GT has been endowed with an electronically limited slip differential to ensure maximum grip along the curves in the road. The final piece of the handling puzzle comes the inclusion of 13.7 inch the front and 13.6 inch rotors in the rear that ensure superb handling.
In terms of the power plant, BMW has slotted in the potent twin turbocharged 3.0 liter straight six that produces a robust 300 horsepower and 300 lbs/ft of torque at 1200 rpm. This engine also comes with 4 valves per cylinder as well as variable valve timing. The nice thing is that with the torque being so reachable you don’t have to put the gas pedal through the floor to access this engines potently power reserves. With this engine, the 535i GT can reach 60 mph in a respectable 6.2 seconds and on to a electronically limited 150 mph. Also connected to this engine is a 8 speed automatic with manual and sport drive functions.
We found that when placed on a mountain road the 535i GT handled 98% of them with grace and poise. It only starts to misbehave when you push it beyond the limit which causes you to feel the strong effect of its height and weight.
In the end, we rather like this misfit. This BMW has character and for a daily driver it’s phenomenal. It offers a tasteful if not somewhat more expensive alternative (starts at $56,500) to cars like the Audi A3 or the VW Golf GTI. It also surprised us with its performance, it really likes to move and implores you to find a challenging road. In addition, it also delivers fantastic mileage of 20 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. So you can have fun and save money at the pump as well...What’s not to like about this car?