Europe is like a whole other continent. Its citizens tolerate insane levels of taxation, live happily in extremely close quarters, and possess fashion sensibilities that foster foreign looking footwear and business suits dyed colors we associate with the management ranks of the "oldest profession." Now the Euro elites are eschewing lux sedans and SUVs in favor of "something different." Something like the current crop of bucks-up hatchbacks including BMW's X6, the forthcoming Audi A7, and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo. Maybe Europe loves hatchbacks simply because Americans hate them and they're P.O.'d at us for grenading the global economy.

Maybe this new vehicular sub-genre suits the European mode of business travel, wherein it makes more sense for three or four execs to share a car for a high-speed autobahn blast between adjacent cities. Whatever, these platypuses -- some prettier than others -- are coming to our shores, if only in niche volumes. BMW promises the GT will surpass the current 5 Series wagon's 1000 per year, and hints that we probably won't have the next-gen 5 wagon to kick around, so wagon-loving Bimmerphiles may as well make peace with this thing. And you can trust us when we say that it has a commanding presence on the road that doesn't does fully come across in photos (please forgive us for making similar allegations about the Panamera).

Fashion-forward Yanks who can be coaxed into a test-spin of this too-tall car/too-short SUV will be impressed with its Swiss-Army-knife versatility and after a few miles at the helm of the 550i GT, they may think they've stumbled across a Filene's Basement bargain on a slightly irregular 7 Series ($82,280 if perfect, now $65,000!). Power flows from the 7's formidable 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 through a new eight-speed automatic to the rear wheels (AWD and the six-cylinder 535i variant follow mid-year).

Bottom line: In our book, tall, 5000-pound vehicles wear the moniker "ultimate driving machine" a little uncomfortably.

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MotorTrend's BMW 550i GranTurismo First Drive Review

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