Drive by any Starbucks in an upscale part of town, or any Whole Foods parking lot, and you’re bound to see a BMW 5 Series. Although it has sporty roots, the 5 Series has become the go-to car for (dare we say it?) yuppies. Although many of these owners will never use their cars for more than latte runs, the 5-Series is a true performance machine.
HISTORY OF THE BMW 5 SERIES
The 5 Series is a mid-size luxury car, first released in 1972. Since then, it has gone on to become one of BMW’s best selling cars, with more than 5 million sold by 2008. The first generation 5 Series, designated the E12, was produced until 1981. It featured a four-door, rear-wheel drive layout, and could be had with a number of different 4 and 6-cylinder engines.
In 1981, the E28 debuted. It featured revised headlights, thicker rubber bumper surrounds and large rectangular taillights. A six-cylinder diesel engine was added to the lineup and the M5 made its first appearance. The E28 finally ceased production in 1988 and was replaced by the E34, which was produced until 1995. The E34 had a stiffer body and was more streamlined than the outgoing model. It was technologically advanced with airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes and automatic stability control/traction control.
Fourth Generation 5 Series (1996-2003)
The first modern 5 Series was the E39, which debuted in 1996. When first introduced, the E39 was available in either 528i form with a 2.8L 6-cylinder engine, or as a 540i with a 4.4L 8-cylinder engine. Transmission choices were either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic for the 528i and a 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic for the 540i. A number of other configurations were made available during production, including an M5 powered by a 4.9L 8-cylinder engine. Body choices were either a sedan or wagon.
Fifth Generation 5 Series (2004-2010)
In 2004, the fifth generation E60 was released. It had edgy styling and a host of modern electronics. The 535i also became the first 5-Series to have a turbocharged gasoline engine. The E60 was longer and wider than the E39 and featured a host of new technology including Active Roll Stabilization (ARS), Active Cruise Control (ACC), Park Distance Control (PDC), active steering and a Harman Kardon Logic7 sound system.
Sixth Generation 5 Series (Current)
A lot of changes were made to the 5 Series with the introduction of the F10/F11/F07. As you can tell from the nomenclature, this 5 Series is based on a new F01 7 platform. The body is longer and the exterior features redesigned lighting and a more muscular appearance overall. Electronic power steering was also added.
For 2012, the 5 Series dropped its 6-cylinder engine in favor of a better performing turbocharged 4-cylinder. In addition, automatic stop/start system is now standard on most models, and every 5-Series got a recalibrated throttle.
Whether you’re in need of a speed java delivery or a day at the track, the 5-Series does not disappoint. Here’s to another 44 years with the true ultimate driving machine.