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View Full Version : Shopping for a GT--Thoughts and immpressions


bcdavis75
12-07-2011, 06:24 AM
First off, my wife and I have been driving a 2007 X5 since it came off the line... and love it. We've recently started thinking about a second car and more or less stumbled onto the GT's. We also got a little lucky in that in while our X5 has been in the shop getting serviced; we got a 335 xdrive GT loaner. Hving the car for everyday use has been invaluable—especially for my wife.

So in order to help us get off the fence, I figured I'd toss out my impressions and see what the community shot back at me... if anything :)

What we love:
--The space! It is so insanely roomy; it FEELS more spacious then our X5.
--Drivability--even though our x5 is infinitely drivable, I'd forgotten what a nice nimble sedan feels like... even if it is a little higher off the ground then most Sedans.
--It's higher off the ground. Easier transition from an X5.
--Double hatch-back--what can you say, it's cool.
--MPG; I can achieve roughly twice what I get in the X5... although I'm disappointed the Diesel variant isn't available in the US.
--The aesthetics; I really don't understand why some people thing this car looks weird or even ugly. We think it's great inside and out.
--Storage; One of might peeves with the X5 is that despite its size, there’s not actually that many places to put ‘stuff’. The GT actually has more little nooks and compartments by far.
--Sort of a minor point but the slightly reclined angle of the rear seats allows my 1-year old to put her head back and sleep… ahhh the peace!


Disappointments:
--The NAV. We are heavy NAV users living in downtown Chicago. There's 500 hundred ways to get from one location to another and a good NAV can help reduce the distraction of trying to figure it out on the fly. We often just leave the map up in order to stay orientated. While the actual NAV instructions still seem OK relative to the X5 (or at least I understand it’s biases)... the maps themselves were a big disappointment. It's so bizarre but it seems to display a street-name at random and sometimes you can have a map up with 20 streets onscreen and not a single street name displayed! I've seen the threads on this site on the issue so I know I'm not alone and will therefore digress.
--Being a tech nut, I often have to stop and remind myself, I'm buying a car, not an iPad. But needless to say, the direction BMW has taken with some of their technology (the BMW Office stuff for example) seems pointless. I'd rather they focus on the NAV... Or just outsource the whole interface. Having said that, iDrive has definitely improved overall from 2007.
--Lack of an Active Steering option on the xDrive version of the GT. Now I know Active Steering (which we love on the X5) is different on the GT (rear wheel etc)... anybody have this option? Do you like it? It’s not a must have but when you are used to it, it’s a transition to not have it.
--As mentioned; no Diesel in the US.

That about sums up our impressions for the time being. The most important stuff (how it drives and the space) definitely override the negatives for us. Since it’s a second care and therefore not a rush, we have the luxury of taking out time… Our dealer has been getting a lot of GT’s back from Executive Demos… these are always sold at a pretty steep discount. Anybody ever bought a demo?
We’ll liley go that route or wait just one more model year to see if by some miracle they introduce the Diesel model in the states…

Anyway, enough rambling. Any thoughts from the community greatly appreciated.

wchewbaka
12-07-2011, 08:40 AM
I too came from an X5, although older than yours. I posted my first week impressions - and I agree with your comparisons.

We ordered our GT and optioned it so it is exactly what we want. We generally keep our cars a long time and prefer not to compromise on features. The dealers in our area order GTs with basic options, luxury options, NOT driveability options. We optioned ours for driving. So I cannot comment on the demos.

It is too bad the active steering is not available on the X Drive. It is the biggest driving revelation I have had with the GT. My X5 needed multiple operations to make parking maneuvers, K turns, even U turns - all a chore with the heavy steering wheel feel - but the GT spins around a turn like a very small car.

In terms of general driveability the GT feels like a smaller sedan, and I remind myself occasionally that it is only a few hundred pounds lighter than an X5.

I find however, that the GT is more difficult to maneuver in reverse than the X5. A lot of that may obviously be my familiarity / lack of repetition, so far. But the reverse camera is a must. I mention this because if you look at the features included between the 2011 and 2012 GT the differences in price of the base model are substantial - reverse camera being one. This also made a big difference on our choice between accepting a 2011 off the lot vs. a 2012 ordered from the factory.

Good luck

Capobranco
12-07-2011, 09:09 AM
Welcome to the 'fest!

I agree with your points which are largely focused on functionality. I think the really compelling case to be made for the GT is that it incorporates functional, dynamic, and aesthetic elements in a manner that is totally unique. I can think of no other vehicle that offers the luxury, space, flexibility, robust performance, panache, and value that the GT offers. I drive a 550i GT - and after one year and 18K + miles I am still thrilled to drive the car. The effortless rush of power - that pushes me back into my seat - is just intoxicating. The GT is able to tackle mountainous switchbacks with poise, or cruise at high speeds in complete luxury without breaking a sweat - and I can take friends, family, and canines along for the ride. Aesthetics? - The styling of the GT exudes a robustly athleticism that conveys competency and power. The GT has serious road presence. In the wild, my GT has elicited universal and frequent praise. I think it is very cool that I drive a totally unique car unlike any another. :cool:

The GT is liberating - fast, luxurious, engaging, and a stunning value - a car for enthusiasts who need space and/or travel long distances. My 550i GT is the best large vehicle I have ever owned. :)

PS I would pass on the electric active steering - the standard system offers wonderful feedback and is a joy! (Please note - I have not driven recent active steering iterations).

bcdavis75
12-07-2011, 12:16 PM
It is too bad the active steering is not available on the X Drive. It is the biggest driving revelation I have had with the GT.


So you DO have Active Steering on your model? Is the 4 wheel steer? Not if it has always been 4wheel steer on the GT's or not. On the X5 "Active Steering" is not 4 wheel steer.

Welcome to the 'fest!
I drive a 550i GT - and after one year and 18K + miles I am still thrilled to drive the car.

PS I would pass on the electric active steering - the standard system offers wonderful feedback and is a joy! (Please note - I have not driven recent active steering iterations).

That says it all right :). I think Active Steering is definitely a personal choice although I agree that so far, I don't miss it as much as I thought I would on the GT. I would not buy an X5 without it... test drove the diesel and was shocked how heavy the steering felt at slow speed.... and of course Active steering is not available on the Diesel... but I digress.

Anyway... a follow up question. One demo I drove and am actively considering has both Sport and Dynamic handling packages. I have a really hard time valuing these options... The loaner I have now doesn't have them and the car drives great for dropping the kid off at daycare and blowing my way through traffic blah blah blah. My 30 minutes in the loaded variant was not enough to tell me the the extra 5k for drivetrain upgrades would make a noticeable difference to me. This car will never be on the track and there is a distinct lack of windy mountain roads in Chicago.

It's probably a hard question for you guys to answer because if you have it, you likely love it... and if you don't have it... you likely STILL love your car. But any thoughts on the topic would be helpful... Is there a material safety advantage etc?

jdubbs
12-07-2011, 01:23 PM
I would not have bought my GT without integral active steering. I opted against 4wd because of this omission, though I would have liked 4wd. With active steering, I can make complete U-turns at virtually any intersection in SF... no 3-point turns ever, as was common with my previous (shorter) 650i convertible. It too had active steering, but it was the old variety, which did not turn all the wheels at variable speeds.

bcdavis75
12-07-2011, 01:25 PM
I would not have bought my GT without integral active steering. I opted against 4wd because of this omission, though I would have liked 4wd. With active steering, I can make complete U-turns at virtually any intersection in SF... no 3-point turns ever, as was common with my previous (shorter) 650i convertible. It too had active steering, but it was the old variety, which did not turn all the wheels at variable speeds.

Ahhh but you live in San Francisco!!! I'd definitely be in your camp if that were case. Living in Chicago though, cannot go without Xdrive. Bummer.

Capobranco
12-07-2011, 07:39 PM
So you DO have Active Steering on your model? Is the 4 wheel steer? Not if it has always been 4wheel steer on the GT's or not. On the X5 "Active Steering" is not 4 wheel steer.

That says it all right :). I think Active Steering is definitely a personal choice although I agree that so far, I don't miss it as much as I thought I would on the GT. I would not buy an X5 without it... test drove the diesel and was shocked how heavy the steering felt at slow speed.... and of course Active steering is not available on the Diesel... but I digress.


hmmmm....I test drove a X5d this past weekend and I remarked how much I liked the weight and tactile feel of the steering....different strokes....In my 550i GT - my steering is a joy. In general I would gladly sacrifice some low speed agility for increased feel and feedback at higher speeds.


Anyway... a follow up question. One demo I drove and am actively considering has both Sport and Dynamic handling packages. I have a really hard time valuing these options... The loaner I have now doesn't have them and the car drives great for dropping the kid off at daycare and blowing my way through traffic blah blah blah. My 30 minutes in the loaded variant was not enough to tell me the the extra 5k for drivetrain upgrades would make a noticeable difference to me. This car will never be on the track and there is a distinct lack of windy mountain roads in Chicago.....

For me - Sport and Dynamic Handling are mandatory options. The GT is a very large car and 18 inch wheels look diminutive IMO. I utilize dynamic handling daily to adjust the car to road conditions and tune in more or less handling, throttle, and steering responsiveness.
Comfort and normal modes are very compliant but border on being flaccid. Sport and sport+ really sharpen the responsiveness of the GT and allow the GT to be an entertaining ride.

Delivering kids to daycare in a GT...easy for any variant of GT. Track? - not really - I only knew of one guy who took his GT to the track. He was a frequent contributor to this board and a passionate advocate for the GT, but he has retired his 500 HP Dinan GT...his presence is missed.

In the end, the GT is a flexible platform and can be tailored to meet a wide range of needs and desires.

wchewbaka
12-07-2011, 07:41 PM
bcdavis, like you said - active steering is a personal choice

I have never driven any other active steering BMW so I cannot make comparisons. All I know is that I am very pleased with mine.

The active steering includes the rear wheels steering. One of my GTs greatest strengths is how it handles urban driving. It is nimble in crappy traffic and now my U turns are one full lane shorter in radius than it was on the X5.

My GT also has the sport and dynamic handling options.

Like I said in my other post, I cannot adequately assess the GT with and without these options. All I know is that the car handles amazingly well for it's size and weight.

The car stays flat in all turns, regardless of speed. The suspension is smooth, yet takes the corners very well. My old X5 had sport suspension which allowed it to handle quite well for its size, but it would rattle your teeth loose.

It is simple for me. I love driving this car...

Is it all worth the added cost? I keep cars a long time so I rationalize that II am amortizing the cost over a long period.

Wardman
12-08-2011, 05:08 PM
Love my 2012 535ix GT - optioned with ZVP ( standard now) heated front seats and multi-contoured seats. You get a lot of car in that package.

That said, I wish I could have gotten the sport steering wheel and dynamic settings for different drive modes (when I go to sport mode, I cannot selct either chassis or steering like you can when you order dyanmic handling and the sport package). That said, I like the 18" wheels and did not want the 19" ride (personal choice of course).

Today I also swapped out the tires (Goodyear LS2 RFT's) and put on Michelin Primacy's. All I can say is NIGHT AND DAY difference in overall ride. I'll store the LS2's to put back on when the lease is up.

Not sure what lease deals look like now, but 45 days ago the residual and MF were high on the 550ix GT and you could get a great deal with many options less than I paid for mine. I opted for 535 "economy" over the 550 rocket ship. I haven't been disappointed, but am sure the 550 power would be fun to exeprience ocasionally.

I did have a 535ix loaner today, man did it feel small inside! I also took my 535ix GT to the mountains for a hunting trip and the car has room to spare.

Good luck!