First Look: 2011 BMW 5-Series Touring

BMW’s unique 5 Series Gran Turismo may combine the passenger space of an executive sedan with the versatility of a wagon, but there are still some customers who simply desire a standard wagon. For them, BMW has crafted the new 2011 BMW 5 Series Touring.

For the most part, the new Touring looks a lot like the new 2011 5 Series sedan, but with a flat, wagon-like roofline grafted on aft of the B-pillars. It’s a predictable look, certainly, but BMW does dress it up with a matte aluminum finish on window trim and roof rails (both gloss and matte black finishes for the latter are optional).

If looks alone don’t sell the Touring, perhaps the increase in cargo space will. BMW says some 19.4 cubic-feet of cargo space is available with the rear seats up, two more cubes than the outgoing model and approximately five more than the Gran Turismo. If you place the rear seatbacks in a more upright position (they recline more than 11 degrees), BMW says owners will gain an extra cubic foot of storage while still seating three passengers.

Folding the 40/20/20 rear seats pushes maximum volume to 60 cubic feet — roughly equal to the 5 Series GT with its second row folded flat. Now boasting the longest wheelbase in the segment, BMW also says rear seat legroom has been increased by roughly a half inch.

Mechanically, the Touring is virtually identical to its sedan sibling. Four-wheel active steering — a highlight of the new 5 Series — is available on the wagon, as is a new load-leveling rear air suspension. Powertrain offerings are identical to the Euro-spec sedan, too. BMW’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel I-4 is found in the entry-level 520d, while the higher-spec, 245 horsepower 530d pushes the wagon to 62 mph in a more than respectable 6.4 seconds. The now-familiar N55 turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 powers the top-of-the line 535i and pushes the car to 62 mph in six seconds flat, according to the automaker. A naturally aspirated, 204 horsepower version of the 3.0-liter I-6 serves as the base gas engine.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment while BMW’s new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is an option for all models. All manual-equipped models come with an gearshift indicator to aid in efficiency, and the 5 Series Touring also comes with a few of BMW’s latest EfficientDynamics technologies. The BMW 520d for instance is the first 5 Series to come with BMW’s version of start-stop technology.

Although it will reach European dealerships by September, don’t expect the 5 Series Touring to be available in the U.S. anytime soon. So far, the 5 wagon is not part of the automaker’s North American product plans and given America’s less than fond feelings for true wagons, we expect it to stay that way.

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