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BMW 5 Series

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BMW 5 Series E34 PNG



No compromise between dynamism and luxury

The iconic BMW 5 Series luxury sedan embodies the very essence of German automotive engineering through eight successive generations. Since its debut in 1972, the series has evolved to become a benchmark for performance, technological innovation and sophisticated design. From the pioneering 5 Series E12 to the most recent 5 Series G60, each iteration has brought its share of innovations, constantly pushing back the boundaries of excellence.

The first generation, the E12, laid the foundations of this prestigious lineage, while the 5 Series E28 consolidated its reputation as a sporty, elegant sedan. With the E34, BMW introduced a bold design vision, foreshadowing the stylistic evolutions to come. The 5 Series E39, hailed for its exceptional rigidity and innovative powertrains, marked a major turning point.

The advent of the E60 provoked mixed reactions due to its distinctive design by Chris Bangle, but its impact on fuel efficiency thanks to BMW Efficient Dynamics was undeniable. The F10 took up the baton with an elegant design and technological advances, paving the way for the G30, which saw a significant reduction in weight and a massive integration of cutting-edge technologies.

Finally, the latest 5 Series G60, unveiled in 2023, revolutionizes the range with combustion, electric and plug-in hybrid variants. Featuring a reinterpreted sporty design and an array of powertrains, it embodies BMW's ongoing commitment to innovation, performance and sustainability. This article will explore in detail the fascinating evolution of the BMW 5 Series through its eight generations, highlighting its impact on the world of premium automobiles.

First-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series E12
BMW 5 Series E12 green

The BMW 5 Series, also known as the BMW E12, ushered in a new era for the upper-middle class in 1972. Conceived by iconic designer Paul Bracq, this sedan laid the foundations for future generations. Featuring a distinctive twin-headlamp grille, a sleek silhouette and BMW's iconic rear-wheel drive, the 5 Series E12 was already imbued with the characteristics that would come to define it. The well-balanced chassis offered the perfect combination of sportiness, safety and comfort.

The following year saw the addition of more powerful engine variants, including the BMW 525 with 145 hp (107 kW) and the BMW 528 with a powerful 165 hp (121 kW) engine. In 1977, aesthetic changes were made with enlarged rear lights and the introduction of twin carburetors for 6-cylinder models, increasing their power.

The production period ran from 1972 to 1981, marking a time when BMW was asserting its growing position on the automotive scene. With almost 700,000 units produced, the 5 Series E12 came to an end with the arrival of its successor. This first generation embodied the successful transition from the BMW 1500 to the 5 Series, leaving a lasting legacy. In 1979, BMW Motorsport even introduced the sporty M535i, adding a touch of performance to the 5 Series' sophistication. It's also worth noting that the BMW 528i in metallic brown went down in history as the vehicle associated with the notorious French gangster Jacques Mesrine, adding a singular note to his career.

Second-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series E28
BMW 5 Series E28

(BMW E28)

In June 1981, BMW unveiled the new 5 Series (E28), the fruit of collaboration between designers Claus Luthe and Ercole Spada. This model marks a significant evolution from its predecessor, introducing more visible design elements. The rear section adopts a raised, aerodynamic shape, while the front section retains its signature double headlamps in the grille. The BMW 5 Series E28 also boasts technological advances such as ABS, airbags, electronic engine control, optional exhaust catalytic converters and an on-board computer.

1983 saw the introduction of the first diesel engine in the 5 Series, with the BMW 524td developing 115 hp (85 kW) and becoming the world's fastest diesel sedan at the time.

In 1985, BMW launched the first BMW M5, alongside the BMW M535i. The hand-built BMW M5 shares the 3.5-liter in-line 6-cylinder engine with the BMW M635CSi, delivering an impressive 286 hp (210 kW) while maintaining a discreet, elegant appearance.

From 1974 onwards, BMW M GmbH offered limited M versions of the BMW E12, culminating in the BMW M535i with its 218 hp (160 kW) 6-cylinder engine and distinctive front spoiler, which became a benchmark both visually and in sporting terms. By the end of 1987, more than 722,000 BMW 5 Series (E28) had left the factory.

Production period: 1981 - 1987
Engines: 1.8 - 3.5 liters (90 - 286 hp, 66 - 210 kW), 4 & 6 cylinders
Length/width/height: 4620 mm/1700 mm/1415 mm

This generation, with its iconic "shark nose", is subject to remarkable speculation, particularly for the Alpina turbo, first-generation M5, M535i and most 6-cylinder configurations. Ergonomics, a driver-friendly center console, comfort and M20/30/88 engines make it a popular grand tourer on the collector's market, attesting to its exceptional quality.

Third-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series E34

The third-generation BMW 5 Series, known as the 5 Series E34, was introduced in 1988, marking a significant evolution in terms of size, comfort and aerodynamics. The engine range included a new 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 113 hp, which powered the entry-level BMW 518i. Sales were dominated by 6-cylinder engines from the M20 family, such as those found in the 520i (2.0 L, 129 hp) and 525i (2.5 L, 171 hp). Top-of-the-range versions were powered by the powerful 6-cylinder engines of the M30 family, with the 530i (3.0 L, 188 hp) and 535i (3.5 L, 211 hp). The BMW 524td, initially the only diesel version with a 2.4-liter turbo diesel engine developing 115 hp, reached speeds close to 200 km/h.

The year 1992 was marked by major changes, including the introduction of the "Touring" station wagon model, distinguished by its elegance which was exceptional for this body style at the time. The replacement of the 524td by the 525tds ushered in a new era in the premium diesel sedan segment. The 525tds, powered by a 143 hp diesel engine, topped 205 km/h and covered 1,000 m in 31.8 s, setting a benchmark in the segment. The 525td followed, offering similar power to the earlier 524td. In the same year, the M20 block was replaced by the new 24-valve M50 family block, increasing power to 150 hp for the 520i and 192 hp for the 525i. This power upgrade paved the way for the arrival of the 525ix, equipped with all-wheel drive.

In 1993, a V8 engine was reintroduced, marking the first use of a V8 engine at BMW in almost four decades. The 530i (3.0 L, 218 hp) and 540i (4.0 L, 286 hp) models were introduced, replacing the bulky 6-cylinder block of the M30 family that had appeared in the early 1970s. The BMW 540i completed the 1,000 m in 27.6 s.

The 5 Series underwent a restyling in 1994, featuring an enlarged front grille and the introduction of the airbag as standard equipment, as well as other modern features. Two notable sports versions were produced: the M5 and the Alpina B10 Bi-Turbo.

The BMW 5 Series E34 marked its era with its imposing size, comfort, aerodynamics and varied engine range, from the 518i to the powerful 315hp M5 model. In 1991, the 5 Series also created a stir by introducing an estate model for the first time in the upper-medium category, offering the remarkable detail of a rear window that could be opened separately from the tailgate. In 1992, the BMW 525iX broke new ground by becoming the first 5 Series model to feature all-wheel drive. The presence of quiet, powerful V8 engines on the 530i and 540i models, and the extension of the M5 range to include a Touring version, also contributed to the success of the E34 5 Series. Production of the sedan ended in 1995, but the BMW 5 Series Touring continued to be available until 1996, with a total of 1.3 million vehicles produced. Production ran from 1988 to 1996, with engines ranging from 1.8 to 4.0 liters, including 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder configurations, and dimensions of 4720 mm in length, 1751 mm in width and 1412 to 1421 mm in height.

Fourth-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series E39
BMW 5 series E39 grey + angel eyes

The BMW 5 Series E39, the fourth generation of the 5 Series, was launched in December 1995 and enjoyed great commercial success until July 2003, when it was replaced by the E60 generation. It is often regarded as the ultimate achievement of a perfectionist, Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, who has since left BMW to join Ford.

Introducing numerous safety and comfort features, such as sequential automatic gearbox, curtain airbags, dual-zone automatic climate control, etc., the 5 Series E39 has managed to maintain a similar weight to its predecessor (E34). The increased use of light alloys in the suspension, chassis and bodywork has contributed to this feat. Its styling, in keeping with previous generations, offers a driver-oriented cockpit and ergonomics recognized as ideal by experts.

The 5 Series E39 engine range included in-line six-cylinder petrol engines of 2.5L (523i) and 2.8L (528i), as well as indirect-injection diesel (525td & 525tds). V8 engines in V configuration, such as the 3.5-liter on the 535i and the 4.4-liter on the 540i, were also available. The M5, with its impressive 4.9-liter V8 engine producing 400 hp, was the flagship version of the range.

In 1997, a station wagon variant extended the range, offering a practical alternative to the sedan. The 5 Series E39 underwent a restyling in 2000, dubbed "Phase 2", featuring new fiber-optic headlamps and an updated engine range.

The 5 Series E39 stood out for its excellent level of comfort and finish, even surpassing the next-generation E60. Soundproofing was remarkable, but despite a lengthened wheelbase, interior roominess lagged behind the competition. However, equipment was satisfactory, with all French models benefiting from an on-board computer and air conditioning.

The six-cylinder engines were praised for their power and efficiency, while the V8, particularly in the M5 version, offered top-level performance. Precise, dynamic handling was supported by sophisticated aluminum-alloy suspension and exceptional chassis rigidity.

Overall, the reliability of the 5 Series E39 was excellent. It was renowned for its exceptional longevity in terms of interior materials and bodywork. However, some Phase 1 models experienced problems, notably with the Plexiglas front light lenses and velvet seats. M51 diesel engines could cause injection pump problems, and reliability concerns were reported on automatic transmission models due to the absence of BMW's recommended oil change.

In short, the BMW 5 Series E39 is today considered one of the most reliable cars in its segment and of its era. Its remarkable reliability makes it a sought-after model on the used market, maintaining a relatively high rating.

- Production period: 1995 - 2004
- Engines: 2.0 - 5.0 liters (115 - 400 hp, 85 - 294 kW), 4, 6 and 8 cylinders
- Dimensions: 4775 - 4805 mm/1800 mm/1435 - 1445 mm

Fifth-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series E60
BMW 5 Series E60

The BMW 5 Series E60, the fifth generation of the 5 Series, went on sale in August 2003, marking a radical stylistic change under the direction of designer Chris Bangle. Known for its cut-throat styling, this model elicited mixed reactions from purists. In early 2007, the 5 Series E60 underwent a slight restyling, notably to the front and rear fascias, accompanied by the introduction of BMW Efficient Dynamics, a series of measures designed to reduce emissions and fuel consumption while improving performance.

The 5 Series E60 is available in two body styles: sedan (E60) and estate (E61), offering consumers a variety of choices. It can be equipped with all-wheel drive on certain models, with manual and automatic gearbox options. The bold, if controversial, styling was modernized in the 2007 restyling, focusing on the fascias and dashboard with the use of new materials.

The 2007 restyling marked the introduction of BMW Efficient Dynamics, a package of measures designed to improve the vehicle's energy efficiency. This includes features such as Auto Start Stop (only on manual transmission models), Brake Energy Regeneration, Shift Point Display, active steering (optional), and controlled air flaps in the grille, helping to reduce emissions and fuel consumption while optimizing performance.

The 5 Series E60 engine range includes direct-injection in-line six-cylinder petrol engines, with base models ranging from the 520i (170 hp) to the 550i (367 hp). The M5 version is distinguished by a powerful 5.0L naturally-aspirated V10 producing 507 hp, derived directly from racing. As for diesel engines, the M57 models of the 525d and 530d are renowned for their longevity and robustness, while the 535d has introduced staged supercharging, setting a benchmark for diesel performance, efficiency and enjoyment.

The chassis of the 5 Series E60 has been taken directly from the foundations of the E39 generation, underlining the exceptional rigidity already established. The car is built with an aluminum front structure, making it up to 75 kg lighter than its predecessor. Advanced technologies include adaptive headlamps, Dynamic Drive roll stabilization and Active Cruise Control ACC.

The BMW M5, launched in early 2005, is available in sedan and touring versions. In 2007, meticulous improvements were made to the finishes, including lighting, bumpers and the redesigned iDrive system.

- Production period: 2003 - 2010
- Engines: 2.0 - 5.0 liters (163 - 510 hp, 120 - 373 kW), 4, 6, 8 and 10 cylinders
- Dimensions: 4841 - 4855 mm/1846 mm/1468 - 1512 mm

Sixth-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series F10
BMW 5 Series F10

2010 sees the launch of a new generation of BMW 5 Series. More than two million units were sold. Its success is due to its sporty, elegant design, typical driving pleasure and a host of technological innovations. The intelligent BMW Drive all-wheel drive system distributes the driving force to the wheels according to the situation. The most powerful petrol engine is a 407 hp (300 kW) BMW Twin Power Turbo V8. The most powerful diesel is a 300 hp (220 kW) in-line 6-cylinder engine.

From September 2010, the M package makes the interior and exterior of the vehicle even sportier. M sport suspension, M aerodynamic kit and BMW M light-alloy wheels make this sports car an exceptional athlete. In the cabin, M-design sports seats, M leather steering wheel, M gear knob and M interior trim add a touch of exclusivity.

When the model was restyled in 2013, the design was revised. Additional engines were added to the portfolio. Xenon headlights and Bluetooth hands-free kit are now standard. From 2016, the BMW 530e iPerformance is also available as a hybrid. Thanks to its plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the vehicle runs without local emissions. Driving dynamics, comfort and efficiency remain at the same level.

Production period: 2010 - 2017
Engines: 2.0 - 4.4 liters (143 - 575 hp, 105 - 423 kW), 4, 6 and 8 cylinders
Length/width/height: 4899 - 5039 mm / 1860 mm / 1464 - 1471 mm

Seventh-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series G30
BMW 5 Series G30

The seventh generation of the BMW 5 Series was unveiled on October 13, 2016 as a classic four-door sedan. Later, a Touring station wagon version and a GT version (this time called 6 Series GT) are due to make their appearance, surely in 2017. Its weight has been reduced by up to 100 kg on some versions, and it obviously has the technological arsenal to compete with its rivals (E-Class, A6, XF, GS), who have outstripped it technologically. It is currently available with two 4-cylinder engines (one petrol and one diesel) and two 6-cylinder engines (one petrol and one diesel). The sporty M550i variant and the super-sporty M5 are also planned, with an electric or plug-in hybrid version, the 530e i Performance.

In 2017, the BMW 5 Series sets a new milestone in the field of sporty business sedans. And it's already doing so visually, with typical BMW proportions, a long wheelbase, stretched hood and flowing roofline. Clear surfaces and precision-cut contours underline the BMW grille. Directly linked to the headlamps, it impressively emphasizes the vehicle's width.

A wide range of modern engines is available. And of course, an efficient Hybrid Rechargeable engine. Optional adaptive suspension and Integral Active Steering 4-wheel steering enhance driving dynamics. Advanced assistance systems guarantee safety. Drive Assist Pro, available as an option, is a Level 2 autopilot that, for example, assists hands-free in maintaining the trajectory for more relaxed driving.

The 2020 model update redesigns the front grille. Optional BMW Laser headlamps become flatter. New paint finishes are introduced. Inside, comfort seats are available as an option. Assistance systems are rounded out by an emergency lane assistant and a city braking function.

**Production period:** 2017 - today
**Engines:** 1.6 - 4.4 liters (184 - 530 hp, 135 - 390 kW), 4, 6 and 8 cylinders
**Length/width/height:** 4936 - 4972 mm/1868 mm/1483 - 1498 mm

Eighth-generation 5 Series

BMW 5 Series G60
BMW 5 Series G60 gray presentation

The eighth-generation BMW 5 Series, unveiled in 2023, marks a significant evolution in the automotive world. It comes in both internal combustion and electric variants, illustrating BMW's commitment to powertrain diversity.

In March 2024, the G60 5 Series will be enhanced by a 530e plug-in hybrid variant, equipped with a 4-cylinder engine delivering 299 hp and 450 Nm of torque, thus integrating impressive performance.

The iconic sporty design of the BMW 5 Series is elegantly reinterpreted in this eighth generation. Distinctive features such as typical BMW proportions, a long wheelbase, stretched hood and flowing roofline give this series a particularly dynamic look. Exclusive elements such as the illuminated BMW Iconic Glow grille, large panoramic glass roof and crystal-clear BMW Interaction Bar add a touch of sophistication to this new iteration.

The variety of powertrains available is remarkable, with a choice of engines featuring 48V micro-hybridization technology, whether petrol or diesel. What's more, the 5 Series is available as a fully electric BMW i5, as a plug-in hybrid, or as an electric M 100%, underlining BMW's commitment to electric mobility.

Safety and comfort are at the heart of every powertrain, with a host of connectivity and assistance technologies to make journeys more enjoyable. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional provides an overview of important driving information, complemented by new Augmented Reality functionality for an innovative driving experience.

Production of this eighth-generation model began in 2023, marking a new era for BMW's 5 Series. The car's dimensions are 5060 mm long, 1900 mm wide, and a height varying between 1505 mm and 1515 mm, illustrating the balanced proportions of this model.