Opinion Letters

Monday 27 January 2020

Turismo left me in a spin

Some cars would have you scratching your head in wonder. Many's the time I've done so while asking why someone else hadn't thought of the concept.

For example, only in retrospect do the likes of the Nissan Qashqai and current MINI appear to be logical developments.

At the same time, one can be reduced to speechless wonder at the sheer performance of a Porsche or Ferrari.

And then there is . . . the BMW 530d GT Turismo. Now there's something that has me permanently perplexed: why did they make it at all?

Never mind the name. This is a 7-series-based (same platform, eight-speed auto transmission and many interior features) mix-n-match of a saloon, estate, sports activity vehicle and huge coupe all dressed up with the moniker of an old-fashioned Grand Tourer (GT). The one reason it can be called the 530d GT is because the front is the same as the new 5-series.

It is, by any standards, an extraordinary combination from the production and conceptual lines of BMW. So much so I kept asking myself: why would I buy this and not buy a 7-series or the new 5-series that gets here toward the end of March, or the X5?

It might be easier to tell you why I would buy (though I don't expect you'll be overly convinced). For a start, there was a powerhouse, all-embracing feel to the whole machine. It handled like, well like a 7-series (and that is saying something). All for around €70,000. Say it quickly and there's a logic to it.

Start looking at the reasons why not to buy it -- apart from the €70,000 -- and you're off scratching your head again.

God, it's big. From the front, I think, I could live with it. But from the side, no. It reminded me of a shoulder-slumped supporter leaving early to avoid the final ignominy of defeat.

BMW sees it as a mould breaker, something to meet the demands of jaded senior execs who simply can't face into another luxury saloon.

Anyway, that's what it is: a mixed set of tangos, waltzes, smoochie-woochie and let's-twist-again.

It led me a merry dance, I can tell you. It was in great demand for an old 'spin' as the younger ones call it. And off we went to Monasterevin for a family get-together. There, warmly gathered in the depths of a heavy night's fog, we peered back through the mists of time to an era when it would have been impossible to have envisaged a motor like this -- never mind the possibility of me being behind the wheel.

But no matter what anyone says about this giant of a crossover -- that's the best description/cliche I can come up with -- they can never put down its ability to engage you as a driver.

Kilometre after kilometre it swept along, barely a grumble from the 3-litre straight-six diesel as we toyed with the navigation system (extra: test car had enormous list of options that came to €24,980.15, bringing the package to about €94,610.15) and the different suspension settings (extra).

I never thought I'd admit to settling for comfort on a suspension but sport was too harsh for me. Initially, I wasn't impressed at all with the boot until I discovered, like most things in Ireland, there are two ways to open it. There is a two-piece tailgate -- Skoda mastered it on the Superb -- that gives you the option of a relatively small fish-mouth aperture or a great yawning gap which could, if left open for too long, be mistaken for a land-fill site with trucks queuing up.

Standing behind it with the tailgate in the air, you get an idea of the enormity of the interior -- there is so much headroom it rivals the X5.

So why am I not in favour of this great new adventure?

Because I feel it is too radical a concept for the here and now and leaves me wondering who will buy it.

And yet . . . there is one final twist in this conundrum of a car. Its road tax at €630 is by no means penalising and if you want something quite different this comes with 7-series trappings at a price that's €22,000 or so below the car it is NOT called after.

Is it any wonder I have the head nearly scratched off myself.


Irish Independent

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