>>What the hell is a BMW 550 Gran Turismo? Like a red-haired hermaphrodite growing up in the 50s, you kind of fear for it out there. BMW already makes wagons, SUVs and whatever the X6 is. Let's just leave the GT in its grey area for now while we check the tech.
The lines of this car and I can already hear some Flemings swearing in German are a lot like the Accord Crosstour, Acura ZDX and yes, Toyota Venza. But once you get inside the 550i Gran Turismo, you realize they weren't trying to bring the SUV down, they're trying to build the sedan up. This is not a SUV or a crossover. It doesn't have that kind of cargo ability. Look at the second row; you can't put anything in there. That's strictly a passenger area and that cargo bay in the back, kind of small and truncated thanks to the fast back lines of this thing.
First thing you're struck by in the cabin is that, the big old BMW display, bigger, badder and better than ever. No where does that display shine any better than when you are on the navigation screen. Their rendering of 3D building information in urban areas is right there with Audi. Entertainment options abound on this guy. You've got radio which is AM/FM, HD radio, satellite radio choice is Sirius. They include one year' pretty generous as car companies go. But the real good stuff is under CD multi-media. Here's our CD slot right here. That's not that interesting, music collection is. This is the hard drive that everything here is running on and giving you some space to rip to.
External devices will bring up both your iPod, which I've got connected here under one of these cables that goes to an Aux and the USB, or in this case, the AV AUX in the rear. Notice what's missing here though, no Bluetooth streaming even though we of course have Bluetooth hands free with really good contact integration. No audio coming off my Bluetooth phone. You can also pause and replay live radio thanks to that hard drive. Check this out, a digital owner's manual built into the head unit complete with sort, search, even embedded videos. An outstanding idea unless you're looking up replace dead battery.
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Now back here we have one of the best second rows in the auto business; rear-seat entertainment, nice generous screens, they tilt a little bit like so, you've got a single remote with Siamese control functions so you can operate left or right. We've got our own DVD slot down here. Here are those AV AUX-INs I told you about. We have reclining seats with heating and active ventilation and sunshades that go up and down with the windows. But all this generosity in this area means there's not a hell of a lot of it behind us.
You see because of the coupe -- e -- roof line on this thing and this interesting tailgate, it's more of a style wagon than any kind of SUV. Hit one button and you get that little gate to lift up. Hit the other button over here and the whole thing lifts up with the glass back. But as you can see, there's not a ton of room in there. This is not the car you're taking to IKEA to buy a bed. You can just put smaller stuff in there.
Now, in the engine room, we're reminded that a couple model years ago BMW's model names stopped having any correlation to their engine displacement like in the old days. So, this 550i does not have a 5.5 liter anything. It's a 4.4 liter twin turbo V8. Its fantastic technology direct injection as that clattering tells you, 400 horsepower. But more importantly, 450 foot pounds of torque. Zero to 60 on this big guy is only 5.4 seconds. Here's the downside, 15/21 is your EPA MPG ratings. That's good enough for a gas guzzler tax.
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Select your drive mode to tweak the power delivery, shift profile and suspension compliance. There's comfort, normal, sport with its own sub-tweaks or sport plus for the most aggressive setting. Each one makes a real difference. But actually, I found my favorite overall was leaving it in normal and slipping the gear shift over into IFS sport profile.
Now, the 550i GT has gobs of power you could imagine. It comes on and is creamy, smooth delivery that is delicious. The problem is I think this gear box has too much to do. Does it really need 8 gears? Nope. For this car is not about canyon carving, it's a tourer so it has great open road power, you don't need that immediately because you're not dicing and slicing on a slalom or some other nonsense. It does the right things for the kind of car it is. The overall affect of this shape and form factor of vehicle is that you're driving a sedan but a sedan that doesn't have that sort of low slung compressed headroom area that is so often the case in modern cars with their thick pillars and all their padding and their airbags everywhere. You've got a little more room in the greenhouse. And did I mention, look at this, frameless doors. You don't find that anymore.
Okay, let's price this 550i Gran Turismo. It's a damn good thing the banks are loosing up lending because you're going to need it; $64,000 base but no -- no -- no, you don't even get it till you add $1,825 for destination plus gas guzzler tax. Now, you're feeling like an idiot as you add on the options and there are plenty. Convenience package for that lift up tailgate, keyless entry and soft close doors, $1,900. Luxury rear seats, $3,650. Premium sound, $1,400. Rear seat entertainment system is $2,200 more. If you want blind spot protection, lane departure warning and auto high beams add $1,350. Now, the insult, if you want a rearview camera, add $400. If you want side and top view cameras added to that add $800. Active four-wheel steering is $1,750. Night vision, $2,600. Adaptive cruise, $2,400. Head up display $1,300. Good God, for that money just buy an Aston Martin and put a lift kit in it. But as you can see, there's not a lot of room in there. This is not the vehicle you're going to take to IKEA to buy a bed. Shut up. It's for carrying smaller things and it does that fairly well.