BMW is doing its best to ensure that the 50th anniversary of the M Performance division is one we will all remember. So far we’ve seen the M3 Touring and the M4 CSL, as well as the M2 teasers and a special CSL salute car that will be revealed before the end of the year.
But with so much focus on celebrating the birth of motorsport division, founded in 1972, Jochen Nerbach, it’s easy to forget that another BMW legend, the 5 Series, turns 50 this year as well. Admittedly, the 5 Series’ birthday isn’t quite as exciting a story as that of M, but that story intersects with that of the M, and the 5 Series itself is arguably far more important in the story of BMW’s transformation from a dumped company to an industry. The cultural juggernaut it is today. So let’s take five and take a look at the history of the BMW mid-size car from 1972 to 2022.
BMW 5 Series E12 (1972-1981)
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BMW’s Neue Klasse sedans saved the company from oblivion in the 1960s and helped launch the brand’s sporty identity, so its successor had clown-sized shoes to fill. The new 5-Series mid-size sedan was revealed to the world at the 1972 Frankfurt Motor Show, but BMW already dropped a big hint about what it would look like when it revealed the 2200ti Garmisch concept coupe at the Geneva Salon two years ago.
Like the Neue Klasse, the Paul Bracq-designed E12 5-Series launched with 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines, but the range expanded up and down by mid-decade to include six-cylinder engines and a 1.8-liter Poverty Specification.
Fast Fives: BMW South Africa developed the 530 MLE (Motorsport Limited Edition) to go along with its successful 530 racer in 1976, and BMW M in Germany launched the M535i in 1980, having previously modified the 5 Series with larger engines and chassis upgrades on an unofficial car. A basis for customers who know who to ask.
Main innovations: It brought six-cylinder power to a midsize BMW, giving us our first M sedan.
BMW 5 Series E28 (1981-1988)
The E28 5-Series was actually more of a significantly improved E12 than a new one (you can swap doors between the two). But Paul Bracq’s successor, Claus Luthe, designed a new hood with a rear hinge, fattened his rear end, and added a new driver-focused dashboard that made it feel different enough.
The combination of four- and six-cylinder engines was pretty much the same, but non-M cars were now available with a 215 hp (218 hp) 3.5 liter inline liter, like their 7 Series siblings, and economic-minded drivers could choose between the 2.7-liter 525e/528e engine. liter and low speed, diesel engine 524 with (113 hp / 115 hp) and without turbo (84 hp / 86 hp only!).
Fast Fives: BMW dropped a 282 hp (286 hp) version of the M1 supercar DOHC M88 (256 hp / 260 PS S38 in the US) to create the first M5, then threw some M cosmetics on the regular 535i to make the M5-lite, the M535i.
Main innovations: ABS, double-link front suspension, digital trip computer, vehicle system check panel in the overhead console.
BMW 5-Series E34 (1988-1996)
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The Series 5 matured significantly during the E34 period, introduced a lot of new features, and the clear design means it still looks cramped today. It was also a huge sales success, with BMW converting twice as many E34s as it did E28s, however, this model is perhaps one of the forgotten generations in the series.
Although the launch engine combination of the M20 and M30 eight-valve respectively was mostly familiar to E28 owners, a new batch of M50 DOHC sixes and M60 V8s arrived soon to boost refinement and performance. And with the addition of a wagon from 1992, BMW was already eyeing Audi and Mercedes.
Fast Fives: The M5 initially came back with 311 hp (315 hp) thanks to a 3.5-liter inline-six engine, but the expansion to 3.8 liters pushed the power to 335 hp (340 hp) in 1994. Not in the US, though, the M5 lost Exactly that year, but he found solace in the 282 hp (286 hp) 540i V8.
Main innovations: With the touring body, all-wheel drive, traction control, V8 power, variable valve timing, the list goes on.
BMW 5 Series E39 (1996-2003)
Chris Bangle’s E39 5-Series debuted a lower, wider look and integrated the two grille grilles into the hood for the first time. European cars replaced the heavy-duty cast-iron M50 with the new M52 featuring an aluminum block, and also in Europe, the 5-Series diesel grew in importance, and its engine lineup expanded to include a four-cylinder diesel for the first time.
Fast Fives: The M5 switched to the new S62 5.0-liter V8 producing 394 hp (400 hp), and it was the first M5 to be built on Dingolfing’s flagship 5-Series production line, rather than at M’s Garching facility.
Main innovations: More Airbags from the Scottish Marching Band, Self-leveling Air Suspension in Touring, Satellite Navigation.
BMW 5 Series E60 (2003-2010)
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Remember the fuss about the design of the E60? And this polarizing view wasn’t just the way he looked outside. The interior was just as controversial thanks to the sloping-facing dashboard, recessed infotainment screen and BMW’s then-new iDrive console, which has been greatly streamlined since it debuted in the E65 7-Series, but it still takes a while to get. on comment.
Turbo technology allowed BMW to downsize the engines during the life of the E60, swapping the entry-level 2.2-liter 520i for a 2.0-liter six, and giving the US market a 3.0-liter straight-six 535i the same 302 hp (306 PS) as the 4.0-liter V8 540i sold in Europe.
Fast Fives: The 2004 M5 echoed the cylinder count of Williams’ V10-powered F1 cars, sounded almost as good, and seemed to have the same appetite for fuel. BMW launched the 5.0-liter, 500 hp (507 hp) Beast as a sedan with a sequential manual transmission, but Europe was later offered the Touring (which returned after skipping the E39 generation), while the US got a manual six-speed option.
Main innovations: Active steering, adaptive headlights, adaptive cruise, iDrive, head-up display, paddle-shift transmission, and turbocharged petrol engines.
BMW 5-Series F10 (2010-2017)
After causing a stir with the E60 5-Series, BMW played it safe with the design of its F10 successor. This emerging theme has extended to the ride and handling of a true luxury car thanks to the dual suspension system.
The F10 brought in more turbochargers, including the M550d diesels, which got three bellows to make 375 hp (381 hp). BMW has also expanded the lineup with the Fugly 5-Series Gran Turismo, a long-wheelbase fastback fastback with plenty of interior space but a serious condition of my dad’s body. More importantly, the 5 Series got its first hybrid during this era when the ActiveHybrid 5 combined the N55’s 3.0-liter turbocharged engine and electric motor to deliver 335 hp (340 hp).
Fast Fives: The 2012 M5 slipped slightly, trading in the naturally aspirated S85 V10 for a twin-turbo V8 and all-wheel drive. At least the power was up (up to 553 hp / 660 hp), an additional 118 lb-ft (160 Nm) and a smooth, dual-clutch transmission that made driving easier. The 2014 Competition package added more power with a total of 591 hp (600 hp).
Main innovations: Hybrid engines, turbocharged V8, three-turbo diesels, double wishbone suspension.
BMW 5-Series G30 (2017-date)
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The G30 5-Series F10 is similar after the body transformation challenge at Men’s Health: still recognizable, but lighter (up to 100 kg / 220 lb), more powerful and sportier with new trim with a touch of gray. This is due to the switch to BMW’s new CLAR platform and the use of aluminum for most of the body panels.
Driver aids, including remote smartphone parking, are among the G30’s biggest advancements, along with offering the first PHEV option for the 5 Series, which quickly became two options when the original 248-hp (252 PS) four-cylinder engine 530e Hybrid with a 21-mile (34 km) range joins the 389 hp (394 hp) 545e for 2021.
Fast Fives: Do you think the previous F10 M5 was too boring? So did BMW, based on what was a comeback. The G30 M5 carried the S63 V8, and unfortunately lost the manual transmission option (two-pedal cars also replaced the DCT for a conventional car), but the base engine matched the old Comp’s 591 hp (600 hp), while adding 52 lb-ft (70 Nm) ) of torque, and the new Competition package freed up an additional 16 bhp for a total of 617 bhp (625 bhp).
But the best dog is the CS, a carbon-intensive M5 that weighs 256 lb (116 kg) less than the stock model, drives 626 hp (635 hp) and features four bucket seats.
Main innovations: Rear axle steering, PHEV technology, lightweight aluminum panels, laser headlights, driving aids, remote controlled parking, gesture control, four turbos on the M550d!
What is your favorite 5-Series generation and where do you think the model should be headed next? Would you like to see BMW turn it into a lift car or crossover, or should the 5 Series stick to what it knows best? Drop a comment below and let us know.
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