The 5 Series has been BMW's centrepiece since 1972. A couple of changes have occurred over the years with newer generations of the 5 Series getting better and better. One thing that the 5 Series is known for is its spacious interior. The 5 Series has not only a larger space than the series it succeeded but is also top on the list among its rivals. Its components primarily consist of lightweight aluminium, making it weigh 100kg less than its predecessor.
What can you expect with the 5 Series? As with most BMW models, you will get superior handling, while the weight reduction has dramatically improved the driving experience. There's negligible to no wind or engine noise. Even on the standard suspension mode, you will not feel any bumps.
The 5 Series arguably has one of the classiest cabins in the automotive industry. Both the finish of the cabin and quality of materials are impressive. Some of the standard kits include a modern sat-nav, online services and quality leather trims. In general, this series offers some high-performing, spacious and elegantly-designed executive saloon cars.
Performance and Engines
Although the exterior dimensions of the 5 Series have expanded, it is more agile than smaller, older models. The weight reduction in the series is one of the reasons why the car feels more powerful. You can get a 4WD on the 540i and as an option on both the 520 and 530d. If you want an RWD, the 520d is a great choice, being lighter and more powerful than the xDrive system.
The 520d has a 2.0L 4-cylinder diesel engine that produces 139kW. If you think this is not sufficient for a large car such as the 5 Series, think again. The lightweight design boosts its performance, which is further enhanced by a slick 8-speed automatic transmission. You need about 7.5 seconds to speed up from 0-100 kph in the 520d. On the other hand, the 530d produces about 194kW and can move from 0-100 kph in an impressive 5.7 seconds. While there are petrol engines, the excellent performance of the diesel engines overshadows the petrol models such as the 530i.
Initially, BMW only made the sedan body style for the 5 Series. In 1991, however, the automaker added a touring (wagon) style. The Gran Turismo, a five-door fastback, was subsequently introduced in 2009 until 2017 when its production stopped. These are the generations of the BMW 5 Series.
First Generation (E12)
The first generation of the BMW 5 Series featured some classy sedans manufactured from 1972 up until 1981 when production ceased except in South Africa. Initially, the E12 models used a four-cylinder engine before six-cylinder engines became available in 1982. The powertrains in this generation include:
- 2.0L 4-cylinder leaded petrol engine (85kW, 165Nm)
- 2.0L 4-cylinder leaded petrol engine (92kW, 175Nm)
- 2.5L 6-cylinder leaded petrol engine (108kW, 209Nm)
- 2.8L 6-cylinder leaded petrol engine (121kW, 238Nm)
- 2.8L 6-cylinder leaded petrol engine (135kW, 240Nm)
Unlike the other generations, there was no M5 model in the first generation.
Second Generation (E28)
Also produced in the sedan style from 1981 to 1988, was the second generation (E28) of the BMW 5 Series. At launch, the model came with 4- and 6-cylinder petrol engines. In 1983, BMW offered diesel variants for the first time. It was also the first in the series to get anti-lock brakes. The powertrain engines in the second generation include:
- 2.0L 4-cylinder leaded petrol engine (92kW, 170Nm)
- 2.8L 6-cylinder leaded petrol engine (135kW, 240Nm)
- 2.5L 6-cylinder unleaded petrol engine (125kW, 222Nm)
- 2.7L 6-cylinder unleaded petrol engine (90kW, 230Nm)
- 3.4L 6-cylinder unleaded petrol engine (136kW, 290Nm)
The M5 in this generation became the genesis of all subsequent M5s of the 5 Series.
Third Generation (E34)
The E34, produced from 1988 to 1996, was the first in the series to get several cool features. These include V8 engines, all-wheel-drive setup and a touring body style (wagon), a six-speed manual transmission, stability control, traction control and even adjustable dumping.
The E34 offered the following engine choices:
- 2.0L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (110kW, 190Nm)
- 2.5L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (125kW, 222Nm)
- 2.7L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (90kW, 230Nm)
- 3.4L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (136kW, 290Nm)
- 4.4L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (136kW, 290Nm)
Fourth Generation (E39)
BMW introduced the E39 in 1995 as a sedan first and added a station wagon later, with the production run lasting till 2003. A couple of things stood out with the E39. It was the first model to use aluminium components in its suspension. This modification made the car lighter and more agile. It was also the first model in the range to use a 4-cylinder diesel engine. Other engine models include:
- 2.5L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (125kW, 245Nm)
- 2.5L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (141kW, 250Nm)
- 2.8L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (142kW, 280Nm)
- 3.0L 6-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (160kW, 290Nm)
- 3.5L 8-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (173kW, 320Nm)
- 4.4L 8-cylinder premium unleaded petrol engine (210kW, 400Nm)
In 1998, BMW released an M5 version, dubbed as the E39 M5. It has an impressive 4.9L V8 engine.
Fifth Generation (E60/E61)
The E60 and E61 comprise the fifth generation of the BMW 5 Series. Production of the two vehicles started in 2003 and continued till 2010. The E60 is a 4-door sedan while the E61 is a 5-door wagon dubbed as the 'Touring'.
This generation saw the introduction of new electronic features, which include active cruise control, a head-up display and iDrive. Other safety features in the E60 include night vision, active headrests, high-tech emergency brake lights and lane departure warning. The range of engines in this generation includes:
- 2.0L 6-cylinder diesel engine (125kW, 340Nm)
- 2.5L 6-cylinder PULP engine (140kW, 230Nm)
- 3.0L DT6 diesel engine (160kW, 480Nm)
- 3.0L 6-cylinder PULP engine (200kW, 315Nm)
- 4.0L 8-cylinder PULP engine (225kW, 390Nm)
- 4.8L 8-cylinder PULP engine (270kW, 490Nm)
In 2005, BMW launched an M5 with a V10 engine with a 7-speed electrohydraulic manual gearbox.
Sixth Generation (F10/F11/F07/F18)
The sixth generation of the BMW 5 Series includes quite a range. These are the F10 (a four-door sedan), F11 (a five-door wagon), F07 (a 5-door fastback) and the F18 (a four-door long-wheelbase sedan). Range of engines in the sixth generation includes:
- 2.0L 6-cylinder turbo I4 diesel engine (135kW, 270Nm)
- 3.0L DT6 diesel turbo I6 engine (225kW, 400Nm)
- 3.0L 6-cylinder PULP engine (225kW, 400Nm)
- 4.4L 8-cylinder PULP engine (330kW, 650Nm)
BMW introduced the first fastback in the series - the F07 - with no other vehicle in the series getting the same body style. New features in the F10 include a turbocharged V8 engine, dual-clutch transmission and active rear-wheel steering.
Seventh Generation (G30/G31/G38)
Produced from 2017 to date, the seventh generation of the BMW 5 Series includes the G30, G31 and the G38. The three models have different body styles with the G30 designed as a four-door salon and the G31 designed as a five-door wagon. The G38, on the other hand, is a four-door long-wheelbase salon. The engine range in the last generation of the 5 Series includes:
- 2.0L B47 I4 turbo-diesel engine (140 kW, 400 Nm)
- 3.0L B57 I6 turbo-diesel engine (195 kW, 620 Nm)
- 2.0L B48 I4 turbo-petrol engine (185 kW, 350 Nm)
- 3.0L B57 I6 turbo-petrol engine (250 kW, 450 Nm)
- 2.0L B48B20 I4 turbo-petrol plug-in hybrid engine (185 kW, 420 Nm)
- 4.4L N63 V8 turbo-petrol engine (330 kW, 650 Nm) – appeared in Australia only for the 550i Luxury Line and only until 2017