Home » The BMW 5-Series GT Had A Ridiculously Weird Trunk That You Should Take A Closer Look At

The BMW 5-Series GT Had A Ridiculously Weird Trunk That You Should Take A Closer Look At

BMW 5-Series GT topshot

Remember Victory Records sampler CDs? Those awesome little mixes with stuff like Silverstein, Hawthorne Heights, and Bayside all on the same disc? The BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo was a bit like a sampler CD in that it merged ideas from the 5-Series, X6, and 7-Series into one car. In theory, that sounds like a recipe for success, but this car was a complete sales failure in North America for one reason: The 5-Series GT was simply too bonkers for most people to comprehend.

5-Series GT trunk

Kicking off the insanity, the 5-Series GT sort-of had two trunks, although not in the manner you might think. Since it had an inline-six or a V8 engine up front, there was no room for a frunk. What BMW did instead is build a ridiculously complex liftback assembly with two different opening methods. Sure, you could open the whole thing up and enjoy hatchback-like space, but at that point you’d have probably been better off buying a 5-Series wagon. What the 5-Series GT needed to be distinctive was a way to make it slightly less practical on command, so BMW put a second set of hinges mid-way on the hatch. The result was one of the tiniest trunk lids available on the American market with no horizontal surface whatsoever. It opened like this, which looks like an objectively terrible opening. Imagine crawling through this slot because your groceries slid forward.

5-Series GT trunk components

While several cars from the Renault Modus to the Skoda Superb have done the separate trunk flap thing, the big distinction with the 5-Series GT is that it had a totally separate trunk with a proper partition, an anti-kidnapping handle and all. See, instead of just adding a flap to the liftback and calling it a day, BMW built a three-piece mid-gate into this thing to offer a totally enclosed trunk while letting the rear seats slide forward and backward. Yes, BMW used a hard partition to turn a hatchback into a sedan. It’s absolutely insane, but there’s a good reason for it. In theory, the mid-gate and ludicrously thick cargo cover cuts down on the cabin noise produced by an open cargo area, which makes sense considering how you could equip a 5-Series GT to be almost like a 7-Series.

Fancy rear seats

Yes, you could option this thing with something called the Luxury Rear Seating Package which turned this otherwise very practical car into a four-seater. That sounds like a step backwards but my god, what thrones these were. Not only were they heated and ventilated, they had articulated backrests and power-adjustable headrests. Short of massage functionality or slipping into an old-timey nightgown and nightcap for the best road trip sleep of your life, this was about as comfortable as you could get in the back of a 5-Series. Chuck in rear seat entertainment and you have proper first-class accommodations. This makes a whole lot more sense when you realize that the car’s strange form factor allows for the legroom of a 7-Series and the headroom of an X5. Neat, right? What’s more, you could get this package on a 535i GT, avoiding the biblical unreliability of the N63 twin-turbo V8 and just getting regular BMW unreliability. Will the rod bearings still be good after 12 years of use? No idea, but it still beats multiple long block replacements.


If there’s anything holding the 5-Series GT back, it’s those looks. While the original X6 is still very foolish in principle, the squat greenhouse gives it a stance like a giant Osiris D3 skate shoe. The 5-Series GT takes a similar fastback formula but dumped a more glass, more metal, and less ride height into the mix. Instead of this lab accident producing the oil-leaking equivalent of the Powerpuff Girls, the resulting Bavarian chimera looks like the big bad wolf stuck a straw in a regular 5-Series and blew really hard. It’s not hideous, just awkward and a bit boring. On the plus side, this makes used examples fairly cheap and since they’re based on the F10 5-Series, they’re still brilliant luxury cars.

5-Series GT front

The 5-Series GT is a truly baffling car, but that’s what makes it interesting. I’m not sure if BMW made something sensible be completely mad or something mad be completely sensible, but it’s remarkable nonetheless. Is it a 7-Series you can fit a bike in? Is it a 5-Series that ate a bee? Did someone try to describe an X6 over walkie talkies? Who knows? All I can say is that when cars from the 2010s eventually become classics, this will be the star of the show at whatever 2040’s equivalent of Radwood will be.

(Photo credits: BMW)

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32 Responses

  1. If you think these are rare, I have a photo of the 6 series GT version – not the coupe, convertible, or Gran Coupe – the only one I’ve ever seen. Not horrible looking, but what a sales dud.

    I kind of like the 3 GT. Kind of.

  2. Hey, c’mon – some German dude got his PhD by designing that whole trunk thing. Much like the E36 radiator clips. (OK, that’s obscure, but anyone who’s replaced one of those radiators knows what I mean.)

  3. These are profoundly unsettling to look at in person. There are a few kicking around the DC area that I run into periodically and pictures really don’t do the blobby shoe look justice. The lines are just flat out wrong and as this article suggests they more or less take the worst parts of all of the things they’re trying to combine. It’s a hatch!

    ….but not really!

    It’s a sedan!

    ….is it?

    It’s a wagon!


    I do respect its complete madness though. It’s a neat idea with simply horrendous execution like only Ze Germans could manage. THAT BEING SAID…the 6 series GT pulls this weird idea off much better. It’s actually a pretty decent looking car and an actual hatchback. They’re also wildly unpopular and can be had for a bargain.

    I remember a certified one got listed in the high 30s near me and I absolutely thought about it. It had been well maintained and the extra peace of mind that it was certified ALMOST got me to seriously consider it. Ultimately I came to my senses and realized how many ticking electronic time bombs were in the damn thing, but regardless…it was a cool and properly weird car.

  4. Weren’t there a couple of years where you could buy this, a regular 5 series sedan, a 6 series coupe, and a 6 series Grand Coupe that were all basically the same size?

  5. I’m going to be the one that inevitably points out that Skoda got there first with the Superb’s ‘Twin Door’ in 2008, which seems more impressive to me given they made it work on a traditional sedan bodystyle:


    1. The Superb really does live up to its name. Especially that 2nd gen and the current 3rd gen cars. My parents had a 2nd gen estate, it was fantastic. It was the base model, with a slightly gutless 1.4 Turbo 4-cyl, but it was supremely comfortable with acres of space, for barely more than the price of a similarly specced Golf. They absolutely loved it, and they kind of regretted getting rid of it for a Rapid as they didn’t feel they needed the space any more. They have an Enyaq now, which they think is fantastic.

      Had 4 Skodas in the family now, all have been excellent cars, even the Rapid. Not always the most fun to drive, but all have been comfortable, reliable, and very very practical.

      1. Hey! My wife’s Passat (ergo, my Passat since I gave up my car because cost of living crisis) has that same 1.4 and… yeah. It’s properly gutless. Like, I feel like it could be dangerously so, at times. And the fuel economy is not amazing. It made my hefty-ass, seventeen year old Volvo V70 seem positively spirited. God, I miss that car.

        Test drove a brand new Skoda Scala the day we first checked out that Passat, and it made me fucking miserable.

  6. I worked at a BMW dealership when these were being sold. And… I’m sorry… we called them ‘butt hole’ cars because of that weird trunk flap thing.

    The selling point was NOT A WAGON.

    And also. 550GT. It was essentially BMW’s idea of a minivan you could option with a twin turbo v8.

  7. I remember reading this in Automobile Magazine (when it was still a thing before becoming a subsidy of MotorTrend) and recalling that it was actually pretty cool. But the majority opinion was that BMW was on the wrong path when it comes to design. That this design would actually fail.

    In moderation, it did and it didn’t. The more time goes on, I have to say as someone now in his late twenties, that this nifty trunk idea is just about the least offensive idea I’ve seen.

    It’s a good era when you could get a manual transmission in a 550i.

  8. This was kind of analogous to the Honda Accord Crosstour of the same era: a hatchbacky SUV version of a sedan. Problem is, they cost just as much as the proper midsize crossover SUV across the showroom (X5 and Pilot) yet had less cargo space, really closer to a small SUV (the 5 GT maybe a tick more than an X3, but CR-V did have more than the Crosstour). And looked funny.

    The X6 arguably was at risk of the same fate, but its positioning as part of the SUV lineup helped there while the 5 GT fell more into an “executive hatchback” space like the Renault Vel Satis or Opel Signum. Maybe they were ahead of their time, with cars like the Toyota Crown rolling out. Honestly, with the trunk opening of the Crown, maybe such a trunk setup would have a place again.

    But, nifty as the 2-way trunk is, beyond the noise suppression benefits, it’s a more complex way of getting cargo in the back including for the user. It helps in the sense you don’t have to open the whole big liftback to throw a couple small things in, like the way flip-up liftglass was often pitched. But this was when power tailgates were still not quite as common (and it was an option on the 5 GT). While it may seem the lazy route, the “click a button” or “wave your foot” route is a lot quicker and easier for most than thinking “oh I should just open the little trunk”, and less complicated than developing two ways to open the back.

    1. I shopped Crosstours at one point, but couldn’t get past how high they were off the ground, but otherwise I actually kind of liked them. If I’m going to sacrifice handling for something lifted higher, then I’m going to want something I can take off-road…

      1. The ZDX I’ll give because it had an edgy futuristic look; the beak was vilified at the time, but I was a little indifferent to it overall across the Acura lineup and it’s not so bad in hindsight.

        The Crosstour? Pretty? I think it could be made to be good looking and I’ll never call it hideous, but it wasn’t a great time for Honda design.

    2. “it’s a more complex way of getting cargo in the back including for the user” meant this as both for engineering and for the user. Two trunks, no edit button.

  9. Oh man I completely forgot about these, I can’t even remember the last time I saw one. Now that I think about it I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one out on the road.

    I remember I was at the NYC auto show with my mom when these first came out and my mom was very impressed when I walked up to this seemingly random car and showed off how the trunk can open in two different ways. She then went on to say that it was probably the ugliest car she’s seen at the show all day

  10. It’s like truck tailgates recently. How many ways can we make them open? Look I can use it for my laptop. Just odd stuff but fun to see.

  11. The Barbie looking flight attendant that lived next door had ones of these that looked just like the one in the pic getting the golf bag insertion. At 2:00am one night it was getting repossessed. Woke the whole condo building up as she tried to convince the mean tow truck guy in her best night time sleepwear not to take it. She got a Lexus sedan and we all were better for it.

  12. I think I just figured out the use case for this seemingly useless feature. And it’s something us plebians could never understand.

    Full hatch access is clearly more useful. If I was driving the car I would use the hatch so as it would get me the easiest access to all the space.

    BUT, If I was being chauferred around in those rear captains chairs and my driver needed to get my briefcase out of the rear I would NOT want that hatch opened because it would expose me to the cruel world outside as I lounged in comfort. So, I would have my chauffer struggle through the tiny opening. Then I could postpone subjecting myself to the outside until they opened my door for me to exit and hand me my briefcase.

      1. Then, outside of China, What’s the point of the back seat reclining captain’s chairs? For the kids?
        You don’t buy BMW because these things are useful, you buy them because they’re special. It’s not what they are, it’s what they stand for and the image they project.

        1. Images of someone wanting to look rich in a car lease while cutting someone off without using their signal are the images I get from BMWs. Or did I miss something?

          (that said, I did rent an M2 while in Europe once and I actually took a liking to it…)

  13. The 5GT is fugly. I love the dual-use trunk and rear hatch on the Skoda, which I had the privilege of seeing in Europe but the rest of the thing is terrible looking.

  14. If memory serves correctly the reason these didn’t sell was they were priced ridiculously more than a regular 5-series. My buddy had a 540i wagon and when he stopped in to service his wagon they sales department tried to sell him this instead because the wagon had been discounted.

  15. A sedan masquerading as a hatchback.
    So, the opposite of some first gen Mazda 6’s that looked like sedans but they were hatchbacks.
    Both compromising on space and convenience for comfort and looks.
    Make up your minds cars.

    1. Those 6s were actually cool, though, and the wagon version was sold beside ’em, not cruelly yanked away before the hatch was offered. (IIRC the hatch was four-cylinder-only and the wagon V6-only?) The hatch really did look like the sedan, though – I used to pick ’em out by their rear wiper.

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