The E12, from 1972 to 1981
The very first 5 Series came out over 40 years ago now - replacing what was called the BMW New Class - a mid-sized saloon which was a blown-up version of the famous BMW 2002. This model was only available with a manual gearbox in the UK and, although there was no official ‘M5’, it is considered that the M535i version of the E12 was the very first M5.
The E28, from 1981 to 1988
The second generation of the 5 Series came in the form of the E28, which had smoother headlights and a thicker rubber bumper wrapping around the entire body - it was fashionable and protective at the time. This is the generation that BMW introduced 6 cylinder engines to their saloon lineup, both turbocharged and naturally aspirated, as well as offering automatic transmissions to UK buyers.
This is also the first generation to include an officially named ‘M5’ which was the fastest saloon in the world at the time.
The E34, from 1988 to 1996
Next came the E34, a real tank-like car which played a vital role in giving the BMW brand the reputation of build quality and reliability, which has helped them sell so many cars to this day. The E34 is still considered one of the most reliable BMWs ever built and, at the time, it was incredibly safe too. This was the first 5 Series to have features such as ABS, Traction Control and Automatic Stability Control fitted as standard.
Mechanically, this car was also the first 5 Series to be gifted a V8 engine and a ‘touring’ model.
The E39, from 1996 to 2003
Finally in 1996 BMW decided to smooth over their large saloon which had previously comprised mainly of straight lines and hard edges. The E39 came with two engines at first, a 528i (2.8 litre 6 cylinder) and a 540i (4.4 litre V8) - the former available with manual and automatic 5-speed gearboxes, the latter with 6-speed gearboxes. This is a car that now offers incredibly good value for money on the Used Car Market, as some examples are now below £1,000 to buy and still include features such as heated seats, electric seats, Air Con and full leather. These are features which often go missing on some modern cars.
The E60, from 2004 to 2010
The E60 should still be fresh in your memory as there are still plenty on our roads - this was (and still is) the best selling 5 series that BMW ever made. The E60 was also the first 5 series to use turbocharged petrol engines, such as the one featured in the BMW 535i. The technology was boosted further in the E60 which used the iDrive system, a one-button scroller, to navigate the onboard menus. This technology was criticised at first, then adopted and imitated by many other manufacturers shortly after.
Notably, the E60 M5 featured a 5.0litre V10 petrol engine, which is likely to be the last V10 ever to be fitted to an M-car.
The F10/F11, from 2010 to 2016
This is the current model of 5 Series that you’d see if you went down to your local dealership right this second. The most premium, luxurious and engineered 5 Series BMW have ever produced. Based on the same platform as the current 7 series, this is a seriously comfortable cruiser, which it needs to be, as this segment is more competitive than ever before. Available with more economical engines than ever before,
The G30/G31/G32, from 2016
The new 5 Series was ‘accidentally’ leaked online last week and then the day after an official announcement was made, including photos of the new model which we expect to see in 2017. The model lineup will include a 530e iPerformance model which will be a plug-in hybrid vehicle using a 95bhp electric motor with a 9.4kWh battery - it is expected that the 530e will be able to return 28miles of all-electric power.