BMW 535i Gran Turismo – Click above for high-res image gallery Evolution is a tough thing to watch – and not merely because it takes millions of years. While the developmental pace of the automobile has proven to be rather quicker than the natural world surrounding it, the car industry's recent house-on-fire rush into new niches and sub-genres has often been similarly challenging to make sense of. Like those primordial fish that beach themselves, drag their bellies on the sand with their fins and eventually mutate into, say, Adriana Lima, you just have to know that the industry's recent diversification efforts will eventually yield a timeless beauty or two. But thus far, you could be forgiven for thinking that the process will take a few hundred millennia – especially where it concerns the industry's nascent call-me-anything-but-a-station-wagon movement. While the burgeoning four-door coupe segment has already yielded some supermodels, the kinlugger set has yet to work out the same way. This, despite seemingly every automaker downing the midnight Red Bull in an effort to hit upon a package that bundles the functional attributes of a family hauler without their social stigma. Some companies are disguising their efforts as SUVs (traditional square-rigged crossovers); a few have waded in with quasi-minivans, while others are staking their claim to the muddy hatchback middle ground. Enter the latest automotive platypus, BMW's 5 Series Gran Turismo, a distinctive new five-door that aims to meld the practical utility of a CUV and a station wagon without the either genre's dynamic and civil penalties. %Gallery-73613% First things first. There's no point in dodging the obvious: Aesthetics will be the primary topic of discussion whenever the 5 Series Gran Turismo comes in for scrutiny. And with good reason – we haven't seen anything quite like it before. Up front, the 5GT's enlarged kidney grilles cant forward ever so slightly, creating an aggressive look reinforced by twin corona headlamps and muscular front fenders. The grille's rake isn't as deliberate or convincing as, say, an E28 5 Series, but it does lend the face a degree of menace without running afoul of European pedestrian safety standards. Follow the headlamps along their main character line, and you'll run across a traditional high-waisted beltline. But it isn't really until the rear end that the shock sets in – the 5GT's jarring, fastback-like greenhouse that terminates in a novel (if controversial) dual-hinged liftback arrangement. While we wouldn't use the word "elegant" to describe this vehicle's styling (as our BMW hosts often did), it certainly possesses a shape for which the old classified ad chestnut "Must see to appreciate" was surely created. Simply put, while far from a traditional beauty, the 5GT's proportions acquit themselves significantly better in the metal than they do in print or on screen. Natural light plays with the body's details in more flattering ways, and on the road, its scale can be more readily appreciated. The 5GT's polarizing visuals will be its biggest hurdle to consumer acceptance. More than …
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|MPG||17 City / 26 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||300 @ 5800 rpm|
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