By on May 24, 2011

Oh, BMW. You so crazy.

What’s a BMW 5-Series “GT” anyway? Apparently, it’s a stretched Five body, plus hatchback, on the basic platform of the 7 Series. It’s cheaper than a “Siebener” while being bigger and uglier than the Five. It also fails to provide much of a wagon’s utility. Nevertheless, the GT was supposed to be a hot-selling “segment buster” for BMW, along with the similarly offensive-looking X6.

Turns out that the GT isn’t selling, and the people who do buy it are Bimmer diehards choosing it over a purchase of the more expensive Seven. Meanwhile, there’s a real 5-Series wagon coming for the rest of the world. What should BMW do?

According to AutoNews,

Now, BMW of North America CEO Jim O’Donnell says he wishes the company hadn’t stopped selling the 5-series wagon in the United States last year. BMW had expected the 5-series GT to attract those wagon buyers, but the GT is luring owners of the more-expensive 7-series sedan instead.

Will BMW bring the wagon back? The below image has been circulating around the ‘Net. If you own it, let us know.

Our take on things: The “GT” is a bit of a misshapen monster, while a Five wagon would bring BMW back in touch with that small but affluent and influential group of people who buy $60K German station wagons. Time to cull the number of Richard-The-Third-mobiles sold by BMW in this country by one and bring back the real deal, okay?

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58 Comments on “BMW 5-Series GT Not Selling Well, To The Surprise Of No One Outside BMW...”


  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    They did it so the Acura ZDX wouldn’t feel alone.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    “Nevertheless, the GT was supposed to be a hot-selling “segment buster” for BMW, along with the similarly offensive-looking X6.”

    The difference is, the X6 is sufficiently over-the-top that it actually *did* become the hot-selling “segment buster” that BMW wanted it to be. Just not such a hot seller in the US. But overseas, it’s selling about as fast as BMW can build them. According to plan, the US was supposed to buy 20k out of 40k annually. BMW sold 41k in 2009, and 46k in 2010, but only 10-15% were US sales. The X6 will be staying for the foreseeable future.

    If an X6-owner offered me a straight up swap for my 5er, I’d take it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I find it heart warming that US customers didn’t buy X6s.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        I find it heart-warming that I’ve found a CJ post that I agree with.

        The X6 comes equipped with virtual reality goggles synced to panoramic cameras, doesn’t it? How can anyone merge to a different lane in one of those things?

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Drive up north into LA/OC, and you’ll see more X6s. It’s a great car to be seen in LA/OC – it has presence like nothing else on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      autoenthus

      Love my GT, much sportier than a 7; stability and handling amazing. tons of leg and head room for long excursions, and it is fast.This GT got me out of my Mercedes, which was the worst car I’ve ever driven. It would make sense that it has not been selling because the price point is higher then a 5 series sedan. love my g t,if you experienced driving one, you would too .

  • avatar
    aspade

    Are those two cars from the same generation?

    The hood on the wagon actually looks like a luxury car again, instead of a cow catcher for jaywalkers.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    In Europe, I see a lot of the GT:s as taxi cabs. And it is the perfect taxi. Big, roomy, easy entry to the backseat.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    5GT is a fastback with clever trunk a-la Skoda Superb, it’s no 5-Series Touring. So, yes, bring back Touring and next generation of ///M5 Touring to compete with AMG E63 if you don’t want to loose even more customers to your main competitor from Stuttgart, as some Touring enthusiasts already went there to get a proper wagon.

  • avatar
    retrogrouch

    Duh. To the BMW NA employee I insulted at a Street Survival a couple years ago by criticizing the 5 GT…
    BMW enthusiasts, automotive enthusiasts, and automotive writers in this country TOLD YOU SO!

    All you marketing dolts up Woodcliff Lake still desperately cling to the opinion that you know everything about selling hatchbacks because the 318ti did not sell well. You got it wrong back then as well. Instead of selling the 6 cylinder 323ti in the US, you badge engineered the fun out of the compact so its sales would not step on sales of the more expensive 6 cyl. sedans and coupes. So, here we are again with no small hatchback while the rest of the world gets the fantastic 1 series hatches with diesel power.

    Remember the E36 M3? Enthusiasts had to threaten you with torches and pitchforks to bring the car here. Even though it arrived as a watered down 330is/332is, it still served as a halo car to save your collective asses from all the crappy recycled plastic headliners falling around your ears.

    The only way you can save your rapidly deteriorating reputation is by bringing in an M3 touring along with the next gen Fxx M3 coupe. I’m even willing to let the X6 slide if we get an M3 touring.

  • avatar

    Plain and simple—it’s just ugly. That’s why it doesn’t sell.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    Count me in as another M3 touring fan. Provided that the styling and dynamics were up to snuff, I would probably ditch my M3 coupe + 12 year old SUV for an M3T so that I wouldn’t have to diminish my driving experience just because the family is coming along or I need throw the bike on the rack.

    That new 5-er wagon looks damn sexy in profile (except for the Euro mandated snout) and the roofline is almost Audi-esque, which is a compliment indeed. China is about the only market unsophisticated enough to actually buy the GTs (along with the X6s) in quantity. Big, ugly, and expensive sell very well over there.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    I reckon the same thing happened when the E60 M5 was introduced with only the 7 speed SMG transmission. The US cried foul and BMW relented and equipped the M5 with a proper manual (with a bunch of asterisks in place).

    Doesn’t surprise me that the 5 GT isn’t doing well. Since it was introduced I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen one. With the CTS Sportwagon in place and Mercedes bringing the E63 wagon BMW should also realize that it doesn’t know everything and give us the M5 wagon while they’re at it.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I have seen a few 5 GTs, but mercifully not very many. I’ve seen various CTS coupes. I have yet to see a CTS wagon of any description, nor have I seen an E63 wagon of the current angular Kia style.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        Multiple CTS wagons here in SoCal. The CTS-V wagon looks particularly good in that metallic white pearl paint they use. Really handsome wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The M5 wagon ought to be epic here in the land of reasonably priced gas.

      Why anyone, anywhere, would buy a GT over the equally awkward looking, yet much better driving, Panamera, is beyond me. Heck, I’d take the Accord Crosstour (actually quite a nice car, that makes more sense than it has any right to) over the GT. The only cars sillier than the GT, are the X6 and ZDX.

      But M5 wagon, that’s the real deal; assuming it will cost around $100,000, instead of the $180,000 P wants for their similarly powerful version of the Panamera. Also the 5’s width is more accommodating in (sub)urban driving than the Panamera’s. Or at least it feels that way.

      As Baruth’s chariot of choice for a record setting Cannonball run, my money would be on the Panamera over any 5 derivative, though.

  • avatar

    I would rather buy a Honda Crosstour, if I were in the market for this kind of automobile. But I am cheap and probably not a target for BMW (the only BMW I seriously shopped was a 128i).

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    I was actually quite surprised that it didn’t succeed, but I’m cynical enough to believe that the success of a new vehicle segment is usually inversely proportional to how much sense it makes.

    One part of the article you snipped: not only is BMW losing 7er sales to the cheaper 5GT, but all those 5er touring sales, rather than going to the X5/X6/5GT as they predicted, are going straight to the Mercedes-Benz E-class Touring.

    I may not know much about what actually sells cars, but I do know that the kind of people who still insist on buying station wagons, despite their near replacement by crossovers, are the sort of diehards that probably won’t be swayed.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    I’ve heard many people refer to it as the ‘BMW Turtle’.

    It is a shame how arrogant the NA guys are. Still I’m curious where the data came from that spurned the development of cars like the ZDX and 5GT. Thoughts?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I doubt very much that BMW NA had anything to do with it. The Germans don’t work that way- headquarters in Munich decided this was the way to go.

      I think the wagons are a chicken and egg issue. They don’t market them, they don’t offer them with all the engine options, and the dealers don’t stock them. So of course they don’t sell! And then the added bonus to not sell them of the fact that BMW can make an X3 in the USA for less money than a 3-series in Germany, but sell it here for more money. Ditto X5 vs. 5-er wagon.

      I also love the fact that the destination charge for an X3 is the same as for a 3-series that is coming from Germany or South Africa. A little extra profit there I suspect.

  • avatar

    I realize that I’m probably in the minority as I don’t actually mind the look of the 5-GT. However, in a practical sense, I can still see it for what it is (like the X6) which is an answer to a question that no one asked. Like a commenter above, I was bluntly honest with a BMW staffer when asked for my opinion about both cars.

    I’d rather have the 5’er Touring than the GT (there’s that practicality rearing its ugly head again). Granted, I’m not in the target market (read $$$) for either of them when purchased new, BUT I would like to ensure that there’s a solid number of Bimmer wagons available to me on the used market in the next few years.

  • avatar
    carve

    The vestigial trunk and overdone hoffmeistier kink just don’t flow. It also looks bolbous- I think the roof is domed-out in the back, and take a weird dip in the curvature, in order to create enough head-room in back. And, I don’t know how, but the cowel looks a lot higher and further forward on the GT than on the wagon. The wagon looks much sleeker.

    The back of the car looks slanted the wrong direction, too, and the rear bumper has a double-chin. The front bumper sports mouth-breathing vacant “durrrrr” instead of giving a devious grin as on the wagon. That Euro pedestrian-impact mandated high, blocky, long schnozz looks awful on both cars. They should make a more curvy, E60-ish looking nose for other markets. Hopefully the aftermarket will offer something, because that one looks awful. I’m sure the new F30 3-series will have something similarily awful.

    For all that compromise, what do you get: that’s right- a smaller, harder-to-load cargo area. Huh?

    Also, I’m sure a lot of people who buy german wagons buy them to haul large dogs around. You’re not going to put them in the back of that thing.

    Fail

  • avatar
    jkross22

    There is good ugly and bad ugly. And then there is ugly for no purpose whatsoever. This thing is the latter of the three.

    My son has pissed more coherent patterns in snow than the designers did with this car/trucklet/hatch/wagon. If the NA guys are the ones who insisted dumb ‘Mericans will buy it because it has a Roundel on the hood, let this bitch slap remind you that while we’ll buy almost anything, if it’s just fugly, we really won’t.

    To the drones in BMW NA that brought this thing to life: Please put yourselves on probation and fire yourselves in 90 days. It’s the honorable thing to do.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    As a 3 series touring owner I much prefer the classic sport wagon and drool over the 5 touring with its twin turbos and available 6spd manual. That said I have to admit I don’t mind the styling of the 5 GT when seen on the road, in print it looks odd.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The last time I rode in a BMW was in 2003 in Smyrna, Ga on a business trip. A fellow designer owned one and at the time I felt these were overall, the finest cars in the world, all things considered. Now? Can’t answer that, but don’t you think it’s kinda funny when the Honda Crosstour apparently has started a trend?

    The earth has spun off its orbit and is now hurtling towards the sun!

  • avatar
    Steven02

    If it could have been done better, like last generations Mazda6 5 door, I think it would have worked. This looks like it was going for the Venza, Crosstour type vehicle, but without the ride height advantage (judging from pictures).

  • avatar

    The GT is awful-looking. I have only seen one in person and I find it as offensive as the X6. BMW really got this one wrong. THANK YOU to this blog for the profile shots of the GT and 5 wagen. Well done.

  • avatar
    Tommy Boy

    Between Bangled styling and iDrive, who cares about BMW anymore? And then there’s the BMWNA game of making “optional” items that at its price level should be standard. BMW has lost its way. At this point, Infiniti, while perhaps not quite as good handling, is a better option … with Japanese reliability instead of European “reliability” to boot.

  • avatar

    Are Alpinas (Touring, Sedan, Coupe) not offered in North America?
    Have a look at their offerings and forget about this bloated GT or X stuff (http://www.alpina-automobiles.com/en/models-alpina/b5-biturbo.html).

  • avatar

    They’re missing out

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Betts

      Yes, yes we are. A 550 touring with a 6 speed would be an excellent 25-35 car for me, as it would both fit a family and not condemn me to minivan limbo. An Alpina would make it all the sweeter.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    BMW cancelling wagons in the US is what got me to finally order one this year. Figured I would best get a 3-series wagon while I still could. 6spd stick, RWD, no iDrive, just as God intended a BMW to be.

    The 5GT and X6 are just plain silly.

    • 0 avatar
      Bruceincary

      Le Mans blue too?
      You rock.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      Apparently we will be getting the new 3-series wagon now and it sounds like that development is due to BMW’s gaffe with the 5-series wagon.

      “BMW wagon fans shouldn’t lose all hope however, as the 3-series wagon in the upcoming next generation 3-series will still be available in NA. Says O’Donnell: “We are not giving up the 3-series wagon because if you give it up, they will go straight to the competition,” he says.”

  • avatar
    Flipper

    I liked it better when it was called the Elantra GT

  • avatar
    SportUniversaal

    As an E61 wagon driver, all I can say is:

    “Ha ha ha ha haaaa ha ha ha!”

    If they don’t bring back the 5er wagon to the U.S., then hello M-B. Which is tragic, really.

  • avatar
    CC_Stadt

    I like the idea of this car but not the visual execution. The Audi A7, with the same basic idea but (IMHO) much more enticing styling, might well end up selling better than this.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      At the risk of sounding pedantic (A RISK I WILL ALWAYS TAKE), the A7 is really a very different vehicle.

      The 5-GT is jacked up, stretched out, and pigged to the max.

      The A7 is low to the ground, reasonably sized, styled with almost unbelievable delicacy (just LOOK at that Kamm tail) and it’s available with a reasonable powerplant (the 2.0T) overseas.

      • 0 avatar
        CC_Stadt

        Point taken — that is EXACTLY why the A7 appeals to me (in pictures, which is all I have seen of it so far).

        Some people seem to be objecting on principle to the very idea of a larger, and swanky, hatchback. I am not among them.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Indeed, the A7 is how it should be done – a sexy version of the Saab 9000, which was a very, very practical and underated car in it’s day.

        I think a lot of the problem with the 5GT is the same as with the original Ford 500/Taurus – they went for that SUV-like jacked up seating position, which just destroys the lines of the car. Too high and blocky.

        I have nothing against the “Executive hatch” idea, I just prefer a proper wagon for the cargo capacity. But I would choose a hatch over a sedan any day.

      • 0 avatar
        wallstreet

        Instead of luring the gang from Audi A7’s designing team, they went straight for the thug that design the Aztek.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      I’m not a fan of the A7’s rear end. In profile, it looks too droopy. That’s just a little too much length for that design language. The A5 Sportback, on the other hand, nails it.

      That 5 Series wagon is fugly in profile, too. It looks like somebody took a picture of the real thing and then decided to mess with the aspect ratio just for gits-n-shiggles.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I saw one on the road the other day. It still looks bloated and piggy. BMW should give us ‘Mericans the 5 wagon. The E-Class and A6 needs the competition.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Rather have a “bathtub” Hudson.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    The reason for this car, and other odd German cars, is success.
    The Germans are selling like hotcakes all over the world.
    They´re thinking: “If we can sell that odd car, why not try this odd car, and make even more money?”
    They can take some failed models

    I don´t like the looks of the 5er GT.

  • avatar
    M 1

    Every time I see it, I can’t shake the feeling that it was designed by Saab.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    That wagon is beautiful. The GT, not so much.

  • avatar
    virginiavalley760

    I have a 2008 535 xi wagon, the best BMW I have ever owned (740 i, 320 ic, 545 and 530) in terms of shear driving fun and ability. The sport package was worth the extra $’s. Downsides are the 9 fuel injectors that have had to be replaced and the comfort access system that drains the battery if you don’t keep the car locked when not in use. All of which that have been covered by warranty. Unfortunately, I will not keep the car past the warranty expiration and while BMW has fixed this issues with later models, they are no importing wagons into the US anymore. Shame on BMW.

    Going to look at a A7 and may try another Mercedes wagon again but only reluctantly.

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