The E39 series is the fourth generation of BMW’s 5 series in the upper middle class.
The E39 series sedan was introduced in December 1995 as the successor to the E34 series. The station wagon, known as the Touring, followed in March 1997, the M5 sports model in autumn 1998. A total of more than 1.48 million units of the E39 were sold, including around 266,000 Touring. The sedan was produced until mid-2003, the Touring rolled off the assembly line until early 2004. The body versions of the E39 were successively replaced by the E60 / E61 series.
From development to market launch
The BMW test engineers covered a total of 30 million test kilometers with the E39 during its development. The test drives took place between Alaska, South Africa and the North Cape. Temperatures ranged from −40 ° C in Alaska to 50 ° C in California’s Death Valley. The test vehicles completed journeys on pothole slopes or with trailers on mountain roads. They also covered 8,000 test kilometers on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. In 1993 the first photos of camouflaged test vehicles (“Erlkönigen”) appeared in the press. In May 1995 BMW published the first official photos of the E39. The 5 Series E39 had its world premiere in September 1995 at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt. In December 1995 sales started on the European mainland. It was launched in Great Britain and overseas markets by mid-1996. The E39 is powered by six- and eight-cylinder petrol engines and four- and six-cylinder diesel engines. Their output ranges from 85 kW (115 hp) in the 525td to 294 kW (400 hp) in the M5. In all models, power is transmitted to the rear axle. According to BMW, the E39 was the first mass-produced vehicle in the world with a chassis made almost entirely of aluminum. The 5 Series was produced at BMW’s Dingolfing plant.
Body and interior
From the market launch in December 1995, the 5 series of the E39 series was only available as a four-door sedan with a notchback. The body is made of steel, and 77 percent of the sheet metal surfaces are galvanized to protect against corrosion. With the aim of better driving characteristics and greater safety, the torsional strength of the predecessor series E34 has been significantly increased. The body has increased by 55 mm in length, 49 mm in width and 23 mm in height. Nevertheless, according to BMW, the body-in-white of the E39 has not become heavier than that of the E34. In contrast to the predecessor, the BMW double kidney grille is integrated in the bonnet, the double round headlights are located behind a shared glass cover. The drag coefficient has been significantly reduced compared to the previous model, with the 520i sedan it is 0.27. According to BMW, this was the best value in its class in 1997. In the interior, the E39 gained 25 mm in knee room at the rear compared to the E34, headroom increased by 17 mm and 9 mm at the front and shoulder room was increased by 62 mm at the front and 15 mm at the rear.
In March 1997, the five-door station wagon variant called Touring was introduced. Like its predecessor, the E34, the Touring has L-shaped taillights and a rear window that can be opened separately. The trunk has a perfectly rectangular and flat loading area. The loading width has increased by 16 centimeters compared to the Touring in the E34 series, and the loading edge is flush with the loading area. A pull-out loading floor was available for an extra charge.
The 540i Protection safety vehicle was part of the range in Europe from September 1997, right-hand drive and USA versions followed in March 1998. The vehicle has safety glazing coated all around with polycarbonate. Large parts of the body are reinforced with aramid fiber mats. As a result, it achieves resistance class VR4. The additional protective measures brought an additional weight of 130 kg compared to the normal 540i sedan. An intercom system and, from January 1998, tires with emergency running properties were available on request for the 540i Protection.
The 5 Series received a facelift in autumn 2000. The front double headlights were replaced and were now surrounded by parking light rings with fiber optic technology. There were now round indicators behind the common headlight cover glass, at first they had a yellow frame, later from the year of manufacture at the end of 2001 they also had white indicator covers. The taillights of the taillights have also been converted to fiber optic technology: four red light-emitting diodes on each side feed four horizontally arranged light sticks. The previous angular fog lights were replaced by round ones and were now standard equipment on all models. The front apron was redesigned, the bumper strips were painted in the body color (except for vehicles with the M aerodynamic package) and the BMW kidneys were given wider chrome surrounds.
The orange turn signal covers are easy to see here.
The BMW dealers could retrofit the optical features of the facelift model in the BMW 5 Series produced before autumn 2000. The headlights, the taillights, the front apron, the fog lights and the side skirts could be exchanged.
Motors since market launch:
The models 523i and 528i were available from the market launch in December 1995, followed by the 525tds and 520i by March 1996. The 520i, 523i and 528i are equipped with the in-line six-cylinder M52 gasoline engine with four-valve technology. The 525tds has the in-line six-cylinder swirl chamber diesel engine M51 with two-valve technology, which was also the only two-valve engine in the E39 series. In the course of the first half of 1996, BMW introduced the 535i (only available as a sedan) and 540i with the M62 V8 petrol engine with four-valve technology. In all gasoline engines, the crankcase and cylinder head are made of light alloy. According to BMW, the use of aluminum has resulted in a weight advantage of more than 30 kg in the six-cylinder engines. The eight-cylinder models can be distinguished from the four- and six-cylinder models with the help of the BMW kidney grille – Differentiate models: BMW used chrome-plated vertical struts for all eight-cylinder models, while all four- and six-cylinder models (except Highline) rolled off the production line with black struts.
Autumn 1998: new 530d and revised gasoline engines
In autumn 1998 the 530d (and the 730d) with a newly developed, direct-injection three-liter in-line six-cylinder diesel engine (M57) was introduced. It was the first series-produced BMW engine with common rail injection and, according to BMW, the first six-cylinder common rail diesel engine on the market. The injection system generates a maximum injection pressure of 1350 bar. Other technologies used include a turbocharger with variable inlet geometry (VNT), charge air cooling and four-valve technology. With an output of 135 kW (184 hp), it was the most powerful passenger car diesel engine on the market when it was launched, according to BMW. In addition, the 530d sedan with a top speed of 225 km / h was the fastest diesel car on the market. The maximum torque of the 530d is 390 Nm compared to the swirl chamber diesel engine of the 525tds by 39 percent, although the displacement has only increased by 17 percent. The fuel consumption of the 530d is around 10 percent lower than that of the 525tds.
In the autumn of 1998, the gasoline engines were also revised. The six-cylinder engines (520i, 523i and 528i) now have variable control of the intake and exhaust camshafts (double VANOS). The eight-cylinder engines (535i and 540i) now have variable control of the intake camshafts (VANOS). The effects of the revision were, on the one hand, the reduction in consumption and emissions; all gasoline engines now met the Euro 3 emissions standard and, from the 528i, also D4. Another effect was the increase in torque; The torque curves show a higher profile, especially in the low medium speed range, and the maximum value also increased in the eight-cylinder engines.
Spring 2000: new 520d and 525d
In the spring of 2000, the 520d and 525d diesel models were introduced. The 525d has a 2.5-liter in-line six-cylinder with common rail injection. This is based on the three-liter straight-six of the 530d; the main difference lies in the reduced displacement. Bore and stroke have been reduced in an adapted ratio. Compared to its predecessor 525tds, the 525d is characterized by significantly better performance and 17 percent lower consumption. The 520d has a two-liter inline four-cylinder (M47) that was previously available in the 320d. In contrast to the 525d and 530d, the 520d uses a high-pressure distributor injection pump instead of common rail injection. The engine of the 520d is also equipped with a VNT turbocharger, charge air cooling and four-valve technology. With a standard consumption of around six liters per 100 kilometers, the 520d is the most economical model in the E39 series. As a sedan, it has a range of 1185 kilometers on one tank of fuel. From spring 2000, the 530d met the Euro 3 emissions standard, as did the new 520d and 525d models.
Autumn 2000: new six-cylinder petrol engines and more powerful 530d
In the course of the facelift in autumn 2000, the 5 Series received new six-cylinder petrol engines (M54), which in some cases also changed the model names. Have been replaced
- 520i (2.0 l with 110 kW / 150 PS) through 520i (2.2 l with 125 kW / 170 PS),
- 523i (2.5 l with 125 kW / 170 PS) through 525i (2.5 l with 141 kW / 192 PS) and
- 528i (2.8 l with 142 kW / 193 hp) through 530i (3.0 l with 170 kW / 231 hp).
The new engines have at least 85 percent of the maximum torque available between 1500 rpm and 6000 rpm. The increase in power and torque was mainly achieved through the redesigned intake and exhaust system and, in the 520i and 530i, through the increased displacement. An electronic accelerator pedal (drive-by-wire) was used. The engines meet the Euro 3 and D4 emission standards, and the Euro 4 emission standard from 2002.
In addition, in autumn 2000 the output of the 530d was increased to 142 kW (193 hp) and the maximum torque increased to 410 Nm. This results from changes to the turbocharger geometry and the injection hydraulics.
Drive, chassis and exhaust system
All BMW 5 Series E39 series have rear-wheel drive. Unlike its predecessor, the E34, the E39 was not available with all-wheel drive. The xDrive all-wheel drive system was only available for the successor models E60 / E61.
According to BMW, the E39 was the first mass-produced vehicle with a chassis made almost entirely of aluminum. BMW called it a “lightweight chassis.” The front and rear axle carriers, wishbones, and brake calipers are made of light metal (on the 535i and 540i the front brake calipers are instead made of spherical Cast iron), drive shafts and the standard wheels, which, like conventional steel wheels, are welded together from strip material rims and wheel disks made from sheet metal. According to BMW, this has resulted in a weight saving of 36 percent or around 65 kg compared to a steel chassis, as well as a considerable reduction in the unsprung mass. The front wheels are suspended on MacPherson struts and two wishbones (double-jointed front axle), the rear on a multi-link integral rear axle. The 5 Series Touring has a compact rear axle with almost horizontal shock absorbers. The 528i Touring, 530i Touring and 540i Touring were supplied with level control with air suspension on the rear axle as standard. The other models of the Touring and the sedan could also be equipped with it for a surcharge.
All models are fully equipped with disc brakes. These are internally ventilated at the front in all models and also at the rear in all touring models. Before autumn 2000, the rear brake discs of the sedan were only internally ventilated in the 528i, 535i, 540i, 525d and 530d models; From autumn 2000 the rear brake discs of the weaker models were also internally ventilated. The diameter of the front brake discs is larger in the models 530i, 535i, 540i and 530d (from autumn 2000) than in the weaker models.
The exhaust system is made of rustproof stainless steel. The soundproofing system is equipped with Helmholtz resonators that reduce low-frequency noises.
The BMW 5 Series of the E39 series was equipped with a five-speed manual transmission as standard. The two larger V8 models, the 540i and the top model E39 M5 are equipped with a six-speed manual transmission as standard. For all models apart from the 525td and 520d, an electrohydraulically controlled five-speed automatic transmission with adaptive transmission control (AGS) was available as an option. In addition, the automatic transmission in the gasoline engines (only from September 1996 on the 520i and 523i) and in the diesel models 525d and 530d has a Steptronic, with a short, second backdrop to the left of the automatic lane. If the selector lever is pushed into the “M / S” position on the left, the automatic system first calls up the “S” sport program. This turns the individual gear steps higher and locks fifth gear.] The first manual shift command activates the Steptronic function: If you push forward in the direction of the plus sign, the automatic shifts up, if you pull back in the direction of the minus sign, the automatic shifts down (direction reversed later). According to BMW, the automatic of the 530d (as well as the 730d), which appeared in autumn 1998, was equipped with a manual Steptronic function for the first time in a diesel vehicle.
All BMW E39s were equipped as standard with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) and the automatic stability and traction control ASC + T. The E39 was the first BMW with ASC + T as standard. To prevent the wheels from spinning, ASC + T brakes the rear wheels independently of one another up to a speed of 40 km / h. Above 40 km / h, the engine management reduces the power. The driving stability system DSC prevents the tendency to skid by intervening in the engine management and braking intervention on the individual wheels. After DSC was installed as standard in the 540i Automatic from September 1997, DSC moved into the standard equipment of the 535i and 540i in autumn 1998 and was also available for the 528i available. In addition, DSC was expanded to include the DBC brake assistant in autumn 1998. The RDC tire pressure monitor was also available from autumn 1998 at an additional cost. From the spring of 2001, the driving stability system DSC was installed as standard in all models with the exception of the 520d, but was not available for the 520d at an additional cost.
From the start of production, the passive safety equipment of the BMW E39 included two front airbags, five head restraints and five three-point seat belts, with belt tensioners and belt force limiters at the front. From September 1996, the standard equipment also included side airbags. In September 1997, the safety equipment was supplemented by standard ITS head airbags, while rear side airbags were also available at an additional cost. From autumn 1997 the BMW E39 had a safety battery terminal. In the event of an accident, this pyrotechnically disconnects the starter cable from the battery in order to prevent a short circuit and thereby reduce the risk of fire. From autumn 2000 the 5 Series was also equipped with rear head airbags when ordering rear side airbags. This increased the number of available airbags to a total of ten.
The seats of the BMW E39 are conceptually derived from those of the 7 Series (E38). The vibration behavior of the seats is matched to the springs and dampers of the chassis. Inside the seats there is an air exchange system that dissipates heat and moisture. Electric adjustment and a lumbar support were available for an extra charge. Sports seats were also available at an additional cost. These have a more pronounced contouring, firmer padding and a length-adjustable thigh support. In addition, the E39 could be equipped with comfort seats, which are softer padded and have a lumbar support and an adjustment option for the upper backrest area. In 1999 the range of optional equipment was expanded to include active seats. These are based on the comfort seats and generate slight lateral tilting movements of the pelvis with the help of two hydraulic chambers under the seat.] Two integrated, fold-out child seats were available for the rear bench seat. All seats could be adjusted independently of each other in height and inclination.
The standard equipment included a heating and ventilation system with 14 nozzles and a recirculation button. The temperature (separate for the driver and front passenger), the air volume distribution and the air throughput can be regulated. A microfilter for bee pollen or soot is included. An automatic air conditioning system was available as an option, in which an activated charcoal filter and the automatic air circulation control AUC are integrated. This determines the quality of the outside air via a sensor and switches to recirculation mode for a limited time after a defined pollution level. The automatic air conditioning was included as standard in the 535i and 540i models from September 1997. From autumn 1998, all other models were equipped with manual air conditioning as standard.
Als Sonderausstattung war ein Multifunktionslenkrad erhältlich, über dessen integrierte Tasten sich verschiedene Funktionen bedienen lassen. Dazu zählen das Radio, die Geschwindigkeitsregelanlage und die Umluftfunktion oder Sonderausstattungen wie das Autotelefon und die Lenkradheizung. Die Modelle 535i und 540i wurden serienmäßig mit einem Multifunktionslenkrad ausgeliefert.
Another option was double glazing on the side windows, with an air gap of three millimeters between the outer and inner pane. The double glazing was used for interior noise insulation and temperature insulation. From spring 1998, an infrared-reflecting windshield was available on request, which was supposed to reduce the heating of the interior by solar radiation.
A latent heat storage system was optionally available for the BMW E39 as a world first. It stores the excess engine heat in the heating circuit and releases it again when energy is needed later. The latent heat storage system ensures rapid heating of the interior and defrosting of the windows after a cold start. According to BMW, air outlet temperatures of up to 40 ° C are measured on the heating nozzles after just one minute. In addition, the latent heat storage ensures a shortened engine warm-up phase, which lowers consumption and exhaust emissions. A few years after its market launch, the latent heat storage system was removed from the list of optional equipment.
From autumn 1998 a car and key memory were installed as standard. Basic vehicle functions can be set individually using the car memory. The key memory can be used to program individual settings for vehicle functions (e.g. electric seat adjustment or automatic air conditioning) for the various remote control keys in a vehicle.
Two different versions of on-board computers including check control were available: a version with a pictogram display and a version with an alphanumeric display and multi-information display (MID). From September 1997, all models had an on-board computer as standard; in the six-cylinder models with pictogram display, in models 535i and 540i with alphanumeric display and multi-information display (MID).
For models up to 2.5 liters displacement, the standard equipment included the BMW Reverse radio, and for models with a displacement of 2.8 liters or more, the BMW Business radio. The latter has a multi-information display (MID), six loudspeakers, an amplifier output of 4 × 20 watts and three antennas integrated in the rear window. The most expensive radio was the BMW Professional. In addition, a hi-fi speaker system and the Professional DSP hi-fi system with digital sound processor were available on request.
Upon request, a D-Netz car phone, a mobile phone preparation and a satellite-based navigation system with an on-board monitor and a TV function (which can only be used when the vehicle is at a standstill) were available. The navigation system’s route guidance can be displayed on a route map in various scales as well as on a directional arrow. The navigation system was later supplemented by dynamic route guidance (TMC). Voice control was optionally available for the car phone and the navigation system from autumn 1998. Call numbers or names can be dialed by voice input or certain functions of the navigation system can be called up without taking your hands off the steering wheel. Initially only offered in German, from the spring of 1999 other European languages were available to choose from. The BMW Assist telematics service was available in conjunction with the telephone and navigation system from spring 1999. In the event of an accident in which at least one airbag was deployed, BMW Assist automatically sends an emergency call and transmits the vehicle’s location.
In autumn 2000 the navigation system received a 6.5-inch 16: 9 screen, which replaced the previous 4: 3 screen. At the same time, the car phone received a cordless handset.
From autumn 2001 the navigation system Professional had a split screen display. This means that, in addition to route guidance, other on-board monitor functions can also be displayed at the same time. The split-screen software could be retrofitted for BMW 5 Series, which were produced from September 2000. From 2002 the navigation system was delivered as standard without a TV function at a reduced price. For the 5 series produced from September 2002, an improved graphics of the navigation map could be installed via software update from autumn 2005.
From September 2002 BMW offered mobile phone preparation with a Bluetooth interface, and from autumn 2003 a front and rear view camera were available. These are integrated in the front apron below the license plate and in the trunk lid next to the license plate light. The field of vision is transmitted to the on-board monitor of the Professional navigation system, which had to be ordered as a prerequisite. In addition, the BMW TrafficPro radio navigation system with TMC was available from autumn 2003.
BMW offered various equipment packages with certain combinations of special equipment for the 5 Series.
M Sport package: It was offered from spring 1999 for the sedan and from spring 2001 for the touring. The exterior equipment includes the M aerodynamic package, the M light alloy wheels 17 ″ parallel spoke 66, fog lights, white indicators, the M sports suspension II (only for sedan) or a sporty suspension setup with level control (only for touring), a shadow line (only for six-cylinder ) or high-gloss Shadow Line (only for eight-cylinder), black bumper strips and a chrome-plated tailpipe (only for petrol). The interior equipment includes sports seats for the driver and front passenger, the M flat fabric / Alcantara upholstery in anthracite, the M leather steering wheel (for eight-cylinder with multifunction), matt chrome interior trim (for six-cylinder, optionally without surcharge for eight-cylinder) or in the precious wood version walnut (only for eight-cylinder), the headliner in anthracite, the M aluminum footrest and door sill trims with the M emblem. The M Sport package offers around 50 percent higher front and rear axles on the sedan. In September 2001, the M Sport package was replaced by the Sport Edition, which includes all of the M Sport package.
- Exclusive package: It was offered from spring 1999. It contained an electric sliding glass roof, electric seat adjustment for driver and front passenger with memory function for the driver’s seat, seat heating for driver and front passenger, Montana leather upholstery and velor floor mats. With the appearance of the editions in September 2001, the exclusive package was removed from the program.
- Business package: It was offered from spring 1999. Included were automatically dimming interior and exterior mirrors (with folding function), the parking aid PDC, xenon low beam, a headlight washer system, a rain sensor, an automatic air conditioning system, the on-board computer with alphanumeric display and multifunction buttons for the steering wheel.
- Premium package: It was offered for the four- and six-cylinder models from May 2002 and could not be combined with the editions. It contained metallic paintwork, the BMW Business radio, an electric sliding glass roof and velor floor mats. The cassette drive of the Radio BMW Business could optionally be replaced with a CD drive at no extra charge.
BMW offered a personalization of the interior as well as the exterior for the E39, which was called BMW Individual. This means special combinations of paint and materials.
. Individual paintwork
. Upholstery in individual collection colors
. Steering wheel rim with colored leather
Fine wood design from the Individual Collection
Interior strips covered with leather
Floor cladding and floor mats in individual collection colors
Editions and Highline
In September 2001 BMW introduced the Exclusive, Lifestyle and Sport editions. They are characterized by a larger range of equipment and by lacquer colors, light metal rims, upholstery, interior trim and matt chrome rings around the round instruments designed exclusively for the respective editions. The basic equipment of all editions includes a roof rail (only for touring), an electric sun protection blind for the rear window (only for sedan), white flashing lights, heated seats for the driver and front passenger, a sliding armrest at the front, a cup holder at the front, an automatically dimming interior mirror and velor -Foot mats. The basic equipment of the 535i and 540i also includes an electric seat adjustment for the driver and front passenger. The 520d was not available as an Edition Sport. The editions also have the following special features:
From January 2003 the special models Highline Exclusive and Highline Sport were available for the 5 Series sedan. These were intended exclusively for the German market. Their equipment scope is based on the Exclusive and Sport editions. Special features are also the special color carbon black metallic and longitudinal kidney bars in chrome, which were otherwise reserved for the eight-cylinder models. The special models have interior trims in the fine wood design, anthracite birch, which could not be ordered as an optional extra in the regular price list. With the expanded Nappa leather upholstery, the center console and the door pull handles are also covered with leather. This is champagne-colored in the Highline Exclusive variant or cinnamon-colored in the Highline Sport variant. The color of the velor floor mats is anthracite, their edging is champagne-colored in the Highline Exclusive variant or cinnamon-colored in the Highline Sport variant. The Highline Exclusive is equipped with a sports leather steering wheel with steering wheel clasp in birch anthracite. The steering wheel rim of the Highline Sport’s M leather steering wheel is cinnamon-colored, while the grip surfaces are black. The 520d was not available as a Highline Sport.
From September 2003 the special models Highline Exclusive and Highline Sport were available for the 5 Series Touring. As with the sedan variants of the same name, their equipment scope is based on the Exclusive and Sport editions. The special features of the Touring’s Highline Exclusive and Highline Sport largely correspond to those of the special sedan models of the same name. The differences lie in the choice of colors for the leather upholstery and the edging of the velor floor mats: the colors cinnamon or two-tone gray were available for both Highline Exclusive and Highline Sport.
Police / federal police vehicles
The E39 was procured in large numbers by the German police (including the Bavarian Police, Berlin Police) and the Federal Police as a patrol car, the majority of which were 525d Touring with 163 HP and automatic transmission. These E39 patrol cars were ex works Delivered in the color “titanium silver metallic” with mint green police stickers and were equipped with various brackets for the police equipment as well as a reinforced electrical system and two batteries. The riot police procured a fleet of 525d Tourings across Germany as nationwide command vehicles, some of which are still in use today thanks to the long-life diesel engines.
The BMW E39 M5
The M5 sports model had its world premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1998 and was launched on the market in autumn 1998. In contrast to its predecessor, the E34 series, the M5 of the E39 series was only offered as a sedan and was not available as a touring. Its five-liter V8 naturally aspirated engine develops 294 kW (400 hp), making it the most powerful BMW series engine produced to date. The engine develops a maximum torque of 500 Nm and is coupled to a six-speed manual transmission. The external appearance of the M5 largely corresponds to the models of the 5 series with the M Sport package or the Edition Sport, but differs from these in terms of:
a duplex exhaust system with 4 tailpipes (instead of a single tailpipe with the M Sport package or the Edition Sport)
a modified front bumper (identical in construction to the front bumper, which is also used in the M Sport package or the Sport Edition, but without the central cross strut and with a modified grille)
Rounded exterior mirrors with mirror holders in body color (instead of angular exterior mirrors with black mirror holders in the M Sport package or the Sport Edition)
Special 18-inch alloy wheels with wide tires in the dimensions 245/40 R18 and 275/35 R18 (instead of 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/45 R17 and 255/40 R17 for the M Sport package or the Sport Edition.
The production of the M5 was integrated into the regular production of the 5 series at the BMW plant in Dingolfing. By the end of production in June 2003, around 20,500 units had been produced.
Research vehicle 523g
At the 1999 Frankfurt International Motor Show, BMW presented the 523g research vehicle. Its three-liter, six-cylinder engine with an output of 135 kW (184 hp) runs exclusively on natural gas. According to the Californian air pollution control commission CARB, the 523g is an Equivalent Zero Emission Vehicle (EZEV).
A total of more than 1.48 million units of the BMW 5 Series E39 were sold, including around 266,000 Touring. The E39 thus achieved the highest sales among the first four generations of the 5 series.
The BMW E39 served as the base vehicle for various Alpina Burkard Bovensiepen models. The D10 Biturbo was the first diesel vehicle from the Ostallgäu manufacturer. According to Alpina, the D10 Biturbo was the most powerful diesel sedan in the world at the time of its presentation.