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History of the BMW 5 Series

History of the BMW 5 Series 


The BMW 5 Series has been a key contender in the saloon car segment for decades. Premium and luxurious yet effortlessly practical and spacious, the 5 provides transport for business users, families and everyone in between. BMW has just launched a refreshed version of its seventh-generation 5 Series, packing in more tech than ever before.

But where did this icon come from and how has it changed as the years have rolled past? 

Let’s take a look through the history of the BMW 5 Series


E12

The E12 was the genesis for the 5 Series. It kicked off the series, and debuted several design touches which are still incorporated in the modern version too. Arriving with several four-cylinder engines to begin with, more luxurious six-cylinder versions were added later on - a trait which would be carried on for 5 Series cars to come.

Production ran from 1972 to 1981, and the E12 set the bar for future generations of 5 Series.

 

E28

After the immediate popularity of the E12, bringing a successor to market was no easy feat. Enter the E28. It still bore a striking resemblance to its predecessor, albeit in a slightly more rounded fashion. It featured a centre console which was angled towards the driver - an innovation first introduced on the E28 - which showed that BMW was still serious about making it a car for keen drivers too.

Not only that, but a high-performance M5 version arrived for the first time with a six-cylinder engine beating away under the bonnet.

 

E34

The E34-generation 5 Series represented a move into the modern age for the popular saloon. Not only did its looks evolve, but its layout underneath the skin changed too. High-tech driver aids were introduced for the first time, with features such as adjustable damping and stability control giving the car a space-age technological advantage over its rivals.

It was also the first 5 Series model to be available as either a saloon or estate - referred to as a ‘Touring’ in BMW-speak - meaning that drivers had an even more practical option to choose. 

 

E39

Whereas previous 5 Series generations had been rather sharp and angular in terms of design, the E39 debuted a much softer, more rounded look when it arrived in 1995. Not only did its appearance change, but its layout did too - for the first time aluminium was used extensively to help drive down the car’s overall weight.

The range-topping M5 ditched a six-cylinder engine for the first time too, opting to use a 4.9-litre V8 instead. 

 

E60

If you thought that the E39 represented a significant departure from the styling norm for the 5 Series, then the E60-generation car took things one step further. Designer Chris Bangle’s famous ‘flame surfacing’ ideology came to the fore with this car, creating quite the divide among critics.

The M5 version saw a big change too, with its V8 engine ditched in favour of a screaming V10 unit.

 

F10

After the wild styling of the E39 came the rather more sedate and conservative looks of the F10. It was immensely popular, mind you, with a range of efficient engines helping to make the 5 Series the go-to choice for all manner of drivers. 

Meanwhile, the M5 returned to V8 power once again, heralding the end of the now-iconic V10 engine.

 

G30

The present-day 5 Series is one of the most technologically-advanced versions yet, packing more innovations and features than could have even been dreamt of back when the original E21 was launched. 

Thanks to its shared underpinnings with the large and luxurious 7 Series, the G30 offers more space and practicality than ever before. 

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