The 5 Series Gran Turismo may have been lambasted when new for its unconventional styling but look beyond the slightly challenging looks and you should be able to see a very decent used car. It of interior space combined with a very e door configuration and plenty of luxury trimmings. If you need a big used BMW it should undercut an F11 Touring by quite some margin and virtually all 5 GTs will be better spec’d too.
While the looks may have caused plenty of debate, there can be no denying the GT’s credentials – almost as long as a 7 Series (with which it shared its underpinnings), it offered exceptional rear legroom, X5 levels of headroom and a load capacity of up to 1700 litres, further enhanced by the two-piece tailgate for added practicality. The car was initially available in either a four-seat Executive configuration or in five- seat SE trim. The rear seats could be moved forwards or backwards by 100mm to either increase legroom or luggage space and in the forward position the seat backs fold virtually flat while the parcel shelf could be removed and stored beneath the luggage compartment, allowing bulky items to be transported with ease.
Inside, the seats were set in a semi-command driving position, giving you improved visibility whilst still offering comfortable access. Black Panel technology, as seen in the 7 Series, was also used for an added touch of luxury while control switches made from galvanized metal were set into the centre console. The frameless doors gave a coupé-like feel and emphasised the feeling of space. At launch three models were available, the 530d GT, 535i GT and 550i GT and the most popular model in the UK was (correctly) expected to be the 530d. Powered by the engine found in the 7 Series, it produced 245hp and 398lb ft of torque, enabling the car to hit 62mph in 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 149mph, while fuel economy was an impressive 43.5mpg with CO2 emissions of just 173g/km.
The 535i used the twin-turbo straight-six but, interestingly, it was in the 335i state of tune rather than the 740i version, with 306hp and 295lb ft.
Performance was impressive with a 0-62 time of 6.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph and it could still deliver 31.7mpg on the combined cycle. Finally there was the range-topping 550i, with the 407hp twin-turbo V8. With 443lb ft of torque, delivered from 1750-4500rpm, it was blisteringly quick, hitting 62 in a scant 5.5 seconds while fuel economy was a reasonable 25.2mpg.
All three models featured BMW’s new eight-speed automatic gearbox, which was claimed to be six percent more efficient than the old six-speed transmission and yet was the same size and weight. EfficientDynamics technology featured extensively, with Brake Energy Regeneration, on-demand ancillaries such as the electric coolant pump and power steering pump and active aerodynamics all playing an important part in making the GT as efficient as possible.
In keeping with the car’s luxury ethos, the 5 Series GT came with the highest standard specification of any 5 Series to date. Dakota leather, four-zone air conditioning, a panoramic sunroof and metallic paint were all standard along with USB audio interface, ambient lighting and heated front seats. There were some notable items missing from true luxury spec though and when the car was launched navigation was an option (an over £2000 one for the Professional set up) as was Bluetooth. There were a plethora of other options to choose from too; a reversing camera (£310) and side view camera (£300), HUD (£920), Night Vision (£1450) and Adaptive Drive (£2170) that included electronically adjustable dampers.
Several packages were also offered which bundled together several options at a cost saving, and some of these may well be worth looking out for on a potential purchase. The Concierge package (£2100) offered an auto tailgate, Soft-close doors, a windscreen with grey shade band, sunblinds for the rear side windows, TV function and sun protection glass. The Dynamic package (£2900 or £2000 on the 550i) comprised 20-inch light alloy Double-spoke style 316 alloys, a Sport leather steering wheel, part electric Sport front seats, High-gloss Shadowline exterior trim and an anthracite headlining. The Professional Media package (£2415) included Professional nav, BMW ConnectedDrive, Voice Control and Bluetooth telephone preparation. Finally there was a Visibility package (£1200) which featured Active xenon headlights, headlight wash and High-beam Assistant.
When the cars went on sale in the latter part of 2009 their on-the-road prices started at £40,810 (530d), £41,150 (535i) and £51,340 for the 550i. These prices referred to the five-seat SE specification with a £3-4k premium for the four-seat Executive set up. Naturally enough the five-seat set up was the most popular by a long chalk.
The three car range expanded to four with the introduction of a 535d in mid-2010 whose vital stats were 300hp, 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds economy and emissions of 42.2mpg and 175g/km with a price tag of £44,785 in SE trim. 2011 saw quite a change in the GT’s spec levels to make it more attractive and from September on all GTs would come with Professional nav, BMW assist, electrically adjustable front seats, Voice control, xenon headlights and remote electric tailgate operation. At the same time M Sport trim was offered for the first time with a price premium of around £3000 over the SE model.
June 2012 saw further enhancements to the GT range, with the biggest news being the introduction of a 520d version. Vital stats were 184hp, 280lb ft, 0-62mph in 8.9 seconds, 53.3mpg and just 139g/km. Prices started at £36,605 and it was pretty well spec’d with the eight-speed auto, Business nav, Bluetooth, Panoramic roof, heated front seats, PDC and an auto tailgate. It was very popular with the chauffeur market so many used examples have done higher than average mileage. At the same time the rest of the GT range gained a host of EfficientDynamics measures which improved performance whilst also leading to lower emissions and better economy.
Further upgrades were made in mid-2013 when the rest of the 5 Series received its face-lift. The GT also received a mild nip and tuck which included xenon lights as standard, LED rear light strips plus a reshaped bootlid that increased luggage capacity by 500 litres.
It’s a common misconception, but not all 5 GTs were diesels – there were also 535i and 550i petrol models although these are very rare.
Starting with the base models, we have the 2011 onwards 520d with the N47 four cylinder diesel. This is much the same as powers the F10 520d amongst others and it’s okay if a little overwhelmed by the weight of the car. It’s often said that the timing chain issues that could plague this engine had been cured by this time but really, they were still lingering on and we have heard (and seen) F10 era cars with chain issues. Apart from that, the N47 is a good engine with few troubles and they’re still new enough to have done relatively few miles. Unlike the F10, the F07 GT did not receive the updated B47 2.0 diesel in 2013.
|BMW 520d F07
|BMW 530d F07
|BMW 535d F07
|BMW 535i F07
|BMW 550i F07
|184hp @ 4000rpm
|245hp @ 4000rpm (258hp)
|300hp @ 4400rpm (313hp)
|306hp @ 5800rpm
|407hp @ 5500-6400rpm (450hp)
|280lb ft @ 1750rpm
|398lb ft @ 1750-3000rpm (413lb ft)
|442lb ft @ 1500-2500rpm (464lb ft)
|295lb ft @ 1200-5000rpm
|443lb ft @ 1750-4500rpm (480lb ft)
|6.9 seconds (6.2)
|6.1 seconds (5.7)
|6.3 (6.3) seconds
|5.5 (5.0) seconds
|155 (155) mph
|155 (155) mph
|31.7 (34.4) mpg
|25.2 (30.7) mpg
|209 (192) g/km
|263 (214) g/km
|Figures in brackets refer to 2012 cars which received some power and torque improvements plus several EfficientDynamics upgrades.
A far better bet is the 530d. They’re not worth much more than the 2.0 version but are a proper tool with the N57 diesel. With some serious mid range wallop, the 530d has all the performance you’ll ever need on today’s roads and driven with any sort or restraint, will give economy figures not far off the 2.0 version. Troubles are rare – lots of these cars were used by the private hire brigade who regard 200,000 miles as just about run in, and we’ve seen them (particularly in the F01 7 Series) with well over 300,000 miles. Timing chain trouble is fairly unusual on these – whilst the actual chain is at the back of the engine as it is on the N47, six-cylinder units run so much smoother than the ‘fours that the chain is under less strain – but regular oil and filter changes can only help not only the engine but the turbo as well. Don’t think chain trouble isn’t going to happen though as they can stretch to the point where the valves are just tickling the pistons. However, on all of these N series engines with the rear mounted chains, they can be replaced with the engine in the car although lifting the unit out is often quicker. Pray that you don’t need to replace faulty glow plugs either because even at this young age, it’s very common for them to snap in the head – a dealer mechanic told us it was increasing rare for all six to come out and that’s a big cylinder head off job to fix. But a failed glow plug controller is more common and at £130 plus fitting, isn’t too bad.
The 535d is more of the same only with two turbos of course. These turbos cause very few issues on the F07 and a lot of the earlier troubles with noisy wastegates were cured by this point. Be aware though that those who specified the 535d meant to use all of the performance and crank trouble on hard driven cars that go the full distance of the CBS servicing regime is not unknown – really, the 530d is fast enough.
The 535i is not a V8 like you might think at first, but the N55, a turbo 3.0-litre that’s derived from the N52/N53 straight-six with direct injection. It’s a good engine but like so many N Series petrol, it can like an oil leak or two. The oil filter housing gasket is a common one but pretty easy to fix but hard driven cars that have been abused can be a bit rattly – a weird top end noise is actually the hydraulic lifters ‘rocking’ in their bores. The direct injection pump can play up and you always have the spectre of carbon build up in the inlet ports but if it’s looked after properly (read: 10,000 mile oil changes) it’s a pretty good engine.
The big N63 V8 in the 550i is too rare to have any pattern of faults although it appears to be fine – just a more modern version of the previous N62 V8 that saw service in the E60 and E65 cars. Unlike the electric coolant pump on the N55 535i that can fail after 50 or 60 thousand miles, the V8 has a proper belt driven pump that rarely gives any trouble. The N63 is a lovely engine really and has tremendous wallop – the fuel economy means that you probably won’t do enough miles to encounter any issues but if you’re going to have a petrol, you might as well do it right and have one of these.
Radiators don’t give much trouble and leaking ones are rare at this stage. Should you need one, forget everything else and buy a genuine BMW unit at £373 – there are cheaper ones but you sacrifice quality to save 50 quid and too many aftermarket rads are junk.
The good news is that there are a huge number of cars to choose from, starting at around £10k for a miley 530d with not so many options, rising all the way to over £40k for the very latest 2016 machines that are rammed to the gunwales with all the toys.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the GT is a hugely complex machine – it’s basically a 7 Series in disguise – and packs a lot of technology so we’d be inclined to err on the side of caution and buy from a dealer. 530ds start at about £14k and a 520d could be yours from around £17k. Push the boat out significantly further and you could be sitting behind the wheel of a 2016 535d M Sport with less than 10k miles on the clock for around £34,000 – or the price of a new 320d M Sport Touring. The GT isn’t hugely in demand so remember to drive a hard bargain – prices are already pretty tempting but if you can get an extra year’s extended warranty thrown into the deal it’ll make it even sweeter.
All GT’s use the superb eight-speed ZF auto and there have not yet been any patterns to them failing – autos have come a long way since the old four-speed units in the 1980s, not only in efficiency but in reliability as well. Some may need the odd tickle with diagnostics to upload new software (but it’s rare) and a GT isn’t old enough to require a new battery but needless to say, these units need a correct battery with a regular supply of volts from the alternator. One fault that has reared its head is for the alloy bodied transmission to propshaft coupling to break up. These replaced the traditional reinforced rubber donut (the one that never went wrong) but apparently they were phased out and replaced by the older type coupling that are £130 new. As per the F01 cars, the propshaft and diff just never go wrong as they’re massively built so no worries there. A final word on the eight-speed auto – should you require a used unit, be aware that unless the donor car was running and the four digit code extracted from the mechatronics unit with diagnostics, a used gearbox is completely useless. New ones are £7300… plus VAT.
The GT has no apparent problems here, and mechanical and electrical trouble will see them off long before rust becomes an issue. However, be wary of the glass panoramic sunroof because whilst it’s nice to have when it works, it is very complex, difficult to fix if it goes wrong and thus will cost a fortune to put right. There have been instances of glass sunroof panels on all kinds of cars from Kias to Mercs shattering and it’s happened on BMWs as well – good luck claiming on your warranty with that! Nobody really knows what causes it to happen although it’s more common in countries where there are extreme weather conditions and thus isn’t common here. Lastly, the illuminated door sill kick plates can fail and a new one is just under £90 plus fitting.
Suspension and steering
The F07 followed the F01 in moving away from the old McPherson strut type front suspension, and by and large it’s okay. Bottom balljoint wear can be hard to detect even when you can hear an audible knock in the suspension and aftermarket suspension parts aren’t that easy to obtain just yet – most part numbers are as per the F01 anyway. Even so, the suspension is expensive to fix should this big heavy car need any bits – at the front, a pair of dampers (non adaptive damping) will set you back £578 from BMW and a Sachs branded alternative £430 from Euro Car Parts or GSF – adaptive dampers are over a grand a pair. Lower control arms (and there are four) are £266 each – again, decent quality aftermarket ones are about £145 each. At the back, many GTs are fitted with the air suspension set up and airbags are £377 each from BMW whilst aftermarket ones are not much less at around £320.
But for all that, the suspension is tough and doesn’t give much trouble and you’ll find your 100,000 mile three-year-old ex-company car example that’s spent its life on the motorway will still be pretty fit – although it would still be nice to see a few chunky invoices for suspension bits. Wheel bearings can get growly but they aren’t too expensive to replace – rears are always more expensive because the driveshaft has to come out.
Christ, where would you start? Canbus was already 15-year-old technology when the GT arrived in 2009 and whilst it’s more reliable now than it was on those early E38 7 Series cars, it can still throw a wobbly. There isn’t a single item that you can pinpoint as being drama, and most of these cars have been completely reliable. But you still have to check that absolutely everything works because even the 520d SE version is well specced and most cars have been optioned with Professional Navigation. All six-cylinder cars seem to have folding mirrors, ConnectedDrive Assist, adaptive xenons with high beam assist and whilst 520d cars can be a bit spec light, there’s enough to be getting on with. In short?
Make sure it all works, and put away your test light. Most specialists are well equipped with diagnostics now and can sort out any issues so we wouldn’t worry about one of these being too complex and expensive to run out of warranty.
Electrics cover a lot of the interior, so we won’t repeat that. The F Series 5 and 7 ramped up interior quality over the previous cars and the dreaded spray on soft feel coatings were largely banished. Even so, the column stalks and heater controls on higher mileage cars can wear the faces off if used a lot but to counteract that, the trim from the leather to the gloss wood trims is very nice and the GT interior really is a nice place to be. Check that the air conditioning works as holed condensers were a common problem – aftermarket ones are £100 and for as while, BMW were replacing lots of them FOC and had discounted them down to about the same price as an aftermarket unit – retail on them is a whopping £489 so if you can get one for £100, it’s almost worth buying one and putting it away.
Beware of spilling any fluids in the boot because there are expensive control modules under the carpeted load floor and it doesn’t take much to knock out the PDC module – the super expensive (£1000) air pump for the rear air suspension is under there as well so it’s worth checking now and then to ensure it’s not about to drown in rain water like so many E39 and E61 units did.
Brakes, wheels and tyres
Not a lot goes wrong here either. Despite the complexity, the ABS system with cornering brake control is reliable, and control units and sensors rarely give any aggro. Just as well because the cost of discs and pads is eye-opening – from the aftermarket, a pair of ATE front discs is over £350 and pads are £70 plus. From BMW, discs are just shy of £450 and pads are £190 so peer through the wheel spokes and examine the discs carefully. A BMW dealer may be able to improve on the £783 quoted on a complete front discs and pads replacement but it still comes as a shock when you can do the same job on an E39 for £150 on your driveway.
As for tyres, they aren’t too bad if you say it quickly after a deep breath – 245/45x19s are £360 a pair fitted for a quality tyre such as a Bridgestone Potenza and 245/40x20s such as the Continental Conti Sport Contacts are £430 fitted with VAT – should your GT be packing 18s, the same manufacturer will do a pair of 245/50x18s for £330 so wheel size doesn’t really have an adverse affect on tyre prices.
Oddly, the GT has a problem where the car can have a constant buzz and vibration through it – not bad, but just enough to notice. It’s more common on bigger wheeled cars but many cars suffer from it and there doesn’t seem to be a definitive fix – so drive before you buy to listen out for this fault.
The 5 GT certainly split opinion when it arrived in 2009 – when I visited the factory, the first cars were coming off the line and the unusual styling hasn’t really improved with time. You might ask what the point of the GT is when there is a perfectly good F11 Touring available, but the GT is noticeably more roomy inside and the rear door really is useful if you have dogs and carry a lot of stuff. Price is the other thing; even from a main dealer with the warranty (the way we would go), a 2010 530d GT SE will be under £14,000 with 80k on the clock, and a 2014 520d GT with around 40,000 miles a bit over £17,000. In both cases, that’s considerably cheaper than the smaller and less roomy F11 – a 520d Touring with the same mileage and registration plate would be £3000 more. If you need the space and can live with the looks, the GT is very worthy of your consideration.
|BUYING GUIDE Servicing costs
|Most service prices below are for the 530d – after all, it’s the most common model. But we’ve also included a couple of petrol service prices.
|OIL SERVICE (550i)
|OIL SERVICE AND MICROFILTER
|OIL PLUS AIR/MICRO/FUEL FILTER
|SPARK PLUGS (550i)
|FRONT BRAKE PADS
|FRONT DISCS AND PADS
Prices quoted from BMW UK website – individual dealers may quote less. Specialist prices assume use of genuine BMW parts.