BMW 5 Series (E28)

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BMW 5-Series (E28)
1983 BMW 528i (E28) sedan (21539857803).jpg
1983 BMW 528i (E28)
Manufacturer BMW
Production 1981–1988
722,328 built[1]
Designer Claus Luthe (1977)
Body and chassis
Class Executive car[2]
Body style 4-door sedan
Related BMW 6 Series (E24)
Engine Petrol :
1.8 L M10 I4
2.0-2.7 L M20 I6
2.5-3.4 L M30 I6
3.5 L M88 I6
3.5 L S38 I6
2.4 L M21 I6
Wheelbase 2,625 mm (103.3 in)
Length EU: 4,620 mm (181.9 in),
USA: 4,800 mm (189.0 in)
Width 1,700 mm (66.9 in)
Height 1,415 mm (55.7 in)
Curb weight 1,140–1,410 kg (2,513–3,109 lb)[3]
Predecessor BMW 5 Series (E12)
Successor BMW 5 Series (E34)

The BMW E28 is the second generation of BMW 5-Series mid-size sedans, and was produced from 1981 to 1988. It replaced the E12 and was initially produced with petrol 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines. In 1983, a diesel engine was available for the first time in a 5 Series. The E28 was the first 5 Series with the centre console angled towards the driver and the option of anti-lock brakes (ABS).[4] The E28 was replaced by the E34 in 1988.

The first BMW M5 was produced during the E28 generation. It was powered by the S38B35 and the M88/3 straight-six engines.


At launch, four models were offered: The 518, 520i, 525i and 528i.[5]

Over the course of the E28 model, the following models were added: the 524d and 524td using diesel engines, the 518i with manifold injection, the 525e/528e as fuel-economy models, and the upper-specification 533i, 535i, M535i and M5 models.

518: Sold only in some European markets, the 518 was the lowest specification model which used a 4-cylinder engine with a carburettor.[6]

518i: The base model in Japan and some European countries, the 518i used a fuel-injected 4-cylinder engine.

520i: A mid-range model with the smallest of the available 6-cylinder engines.

524d: At the 1986 Geneva Motor Show, four years after the introduction of the more powerful 524td model, the naturally-aspirated 524d model was introduced.[7]:188,190 It was only sold in some markets.[7]:191

524td: This turbodiesel model was the first diesel car produced by BMW. It entered production in late 1982, when 100 pre-series cars were built.[8]

525e / 528e: The 525e (called 528e in North America and Japan) uses a 2.7-litre 6-cylinder M20 petrol engine which is tuned to provide torque at low engine speed, rather than the traditional high revving characteristics of BMW straight-6 engines.[9] According to BMW, the 525e is more fuel efficient than the 520i, which has the same rated power of 92 kW.[10] In Austria, a power reduced 525e with 88 kW was sold.

525i: This mid-range model is powered by a 2.5-litre 6-cylinder engine. The 525i was only sold in Europe.

528i: Initially the highest specification available, the 6-cylinder 528i became a mid-range model following the release of the 533i and 535i models. In the USA, it was sold with a catalytic convertor.

533i: Only sold in Japan and North America, the 6-cylinder 533i was the highest specification model during its production years of 1983-1984. It was replaced by the 535i. In the USA, it was sold with a catalytic convertor.

535i: Released in 1984, the 535i uses the same 6-cylinder drivetrain as the M535i. In the USA, it was sold with a catalytic convertor.

M535i: The top of the regular production model range, the M535i uses the drivetrain from the 535i plus M-Technic suspension, wheels and body panels not found on the standard 535i. The M535i was assembled on the standard E28 assembly lines in Dingolfing and Rosslyn. In the USA, it was sold with a catalytic convertor.

528i (Australia) 
M535i (Australia) 

M5 version[edit]

M5 model

The E28 was the first M5 model produced, and is powered by the S38B35 and the M88/3 straight-six engines.


M88/3 engine (210 kW) of an E28 M5
M20 engine

BMW offered all their engines for the E28. These were the petrol engines M10, M20, M30 as well as their sport versions and the diesel engine M21. All these engines except the M10, which is a straight-four, are straight-six engines with indirect fuel injection. The petrol engines have a multipoint fuel injection system while the diesel engines have swirl chamber injection. The only exception is the M10 used in the 518, which is fitted with a Pierburg 2B4 carburettor. The slightly inclined engine is mounted on the front axle bracket and screwed to the gearbox.[11]


Petrol engines
Model Engine Power at 1/min Torque at 1/min Fuel supply Years
518 M10B18 66 kW (89 hp) at 5500 140 N·m (103 lb·ft) at 4000 Pierburg 2BE carb 1981-1984
518i 77 kW (103 hp) at 5800 145 N·m (107 lb·ft) at 4500 L Jetronic 1981–1987
520i M20B20 92 kW (123 hp) at 5800 165 N·m (122 lb·ft) at 4500 K-Jetronic 1981–1982
92 kW (123 hp) at 5800 170 N·m (125 lb·ft) at 4000 L-Jetronic 1982-1987
95 kW (127 hp) at 6000 174 N·m (128 lb·ft) at 4000 LE-Jetronic 1985-1988
95 kW (127 hp) at 6000 164 N·m (121 lb·ft) at 4300 Motronic 1986-1988
525i M30B25 110 kW (148 hp) at 5500 215 N·m (159 lb·ft) at 4000 L-Jetronic 1981–1987
525e /
M20B27 92 kW (123 hp) at 4250 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) at 3250 Motronic 1982–1987
90 kW (121 hp) at 4250 230 N·m (170 lb·ft) at 3250 L Jetronic/Motronic 1982–1987
95 kW (127 hp) at 4250 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) at 3250 Motronic 1984–1988
525e 88 kW (118 hp) at 4250 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) at 3250 Motronic 1985–1987
528i M30B28 135 kW (181 hp) at 5800 240 N·m (177 lb·ft) at 4200 L-Jetronic 1981–1987
533i M30B32 135 kW (181 hp) 265 N·m (195 lb·ft) Motronic 1982–1984
M30B34 160 kW (215 hp) at 5500 310 N·m (229 lb·ft) at 4000 Motronic 1985–1988
136 kW (182 hp) at 5400 290 N·m (214 lb·ft) at 4000 Motronic 1985–1988
M5 M88/3 210 kW (282 hp) at 6500[12] 340 N·m (251 lb·ft) at 4500 Motronic 1985–1988
M5 S38B35 188 kW (252 hp) at 6500 330 N·m (243 lb·ft) at 4500 Motronic 1986–1988


M21 swirl chamber engine (63 kW), naturally aspirated
Diesel engines
Model Engine code Power at 1/min Torque at 1/min Aspiration Years
524d M21D24 63 kW (84 hp) at 4600 152 N·m (112 lb·ft) at 2500 naturally aspirated 1985–1987
524td 85 kW (114 hp) at 4800 210 N·m (155 lb·ft) at 2400 turbocharged 1983–1988


The E28 uses independent front and rear suspension.[11] The front axle is a dual joint axle, the wheels are suspended by MacPherson struts with double-acting shock absorbers and coil springs. They are supported by transverse and trailing links. A torsion spring acts as a stabiliser. The rear axle is mounted on a delta beam that is connected to the body with three screws in rubber bearings, that have longitudinal play. Like the front wheels, the rear wheels are suspended by MacPherson struts, however, they are supported by diagonal links instead. The 528i and M535i have an additional torsion spring as a stabiliser for their rear axle as well.[11]

BMW offered both steel and light metal alloy wheels for the E28. The standard rim size is 6 J × 14 H2. Rims with an increased or reduced rim width of a half inch (12,7 mm) also fit. All rims have 22 mm positive rim offset.[11]

A hydraulic dual circuit brake system with a brake servo is used. The front wheels have disc brakes, that are – except for the 518i – internally ventilated. All models with 2,4 l displacement or less have rear drum brakes, while all models with 2,5 l or more displacement have non internally ventilated rear disc brakes. To prevent the wheels from blocking, BMW equipped the E28 with an anti-lock braking system.[11]

Both left- and right-hand drive BMW E28s were made. All models, except the 518i have a speed dependent ball-and-nut power steering made by ZF, the 518i has a Gemmer steering system with a double enveloping worm gear, also made by ZF.[11]


The E28 has a self supporting body that is welded to the body plattform. The passenger cell is a safety passenger cell with deformation elements both in the front and rear of the vehicle. Unlike the BMW E12, the E28 has a rear-hinged bonnet. The boot has a volume of 460 dm3, the fuel tank has 70 l. The glazing is made of single-pane safety glass, the windscreen has laminated glass.[11]


BMW offered the E28 with both manual and automatic gearboxes. The torque is transmitted from the engine with a single-disc dry clutch with a torsional damper in the models with a manual gearbox, the automatic models have a torque converter with built in lockup-clutch.[11]

Manual transmissions

The 4-speed manual transmissions are:[13]

  • Getrag 242 (for M10 and M20 engine models)
  • Getrag 262 (M30 engines)

The 5-speed manual transmissions are:

  • Getrag 240 (M10 and M21 engines)
  • Getrag 245 (M10 engines)
  • Getrag 260 (M20, M21 and M30 engines)
  • Getrag 265 (M30 engines and 525e/528e)
  • Getrag 280 (M88/3 and S38 engines)
  • ZF S5-16 (M20 engines)
Automatic transmissions

The 3-speed automatic transmissions are:

  • ZF 3 HP 22 (M20 and M30 engines, US market only)

The 4-speed automatic transmissions are:

  • ZF 4 HP 22 (M10, M20, M21)
  • ZF 4 HP 22 EH (M20, M30)

North American market models[edit]

BMW 535is (North America)
North American M5 fitted with European market headlights

The North American line-up consisted of the 528e (1982-1988, known as the 525e in Europe), 533i (1983-1984), 535i (1985-1988), 524td (1985-1986), M5 (1986-1987) and 535is (1987-1988).

The launch model was the 528e in 1982, followed by the 533i.[citation needed] The optional automatic transmission was initially a 3-speed (a 4-speed automatic was available in Europe at the time), with a 4-speed automatic transmission becoming optional in 1983. The 524td was only imported with an automatic transmission, and the M5 was only imported with a manual transmission. From 1985, all North American models had ABS Brakes as standard. Electric front seats became a standard feature in 1986.[citation needed] North American specification cars were comprehensively equipped, with standard features including power windows, central locking, air conditioning, power sunroof, cruise control, alloy wheels and fog lights.[citation needed]

Instead of importing the M535i, BMW of North America created the 535is.[citation needed] This model is based on a 535i, plus front and rear spoilers, sport suspension and sport seats.

Production of North American market M5 models began in late 1986 (two years after M5 production began for European markets), and it was only produced for twelve months as 1988 model year car. North American M5 models use the S38 engine instead of the M88/3. All North American M5 cars were painted Jet Black and most interiors were Natur (Light Saddle) leather. A very small number of US-spec M5s were built with black interiors. Canadian-spec M5s were available with the option of a black leather interior.


E28 production started in July 1981 and ended in December 1987.[14]

The E28 was still sold in North America as a 1988 Model Year car while Europe received the E34 in early 1988. A limited edition model was also sold in South Africa from mid-1987 to the end of 1988.[15]

Road performance[edit]

518[16] 518i 520i 525e 525e Kat. 525i 528i 535i 535i Kat. M535i M535i Kat. 524td
164 175 190 (184) 190 (184) 188 (183) 201 (195) 215 (208) 225 (219) 212 (207) 230 (223) 217 (211) 180 (175)[V 1]
Acceleration 0–100 km/h
14.0 12.6 11.4 (13.3) 10.7 (12.2) 11.3 (13.1) 9.8 (11.9) 8.4 (10.8) 7.2 (8.9) 7.9 (9.8) 7.2 (8.9) 7.9 (9.8) 12.9 (13.6)
Fuel consumption (DIN 70030 at 120 km/h)
(l/100 km)
9.5 8.0 8.7 (8.3) 7.4 (7.5) n.a. 9.2 (9.2) 9.0 (9.0) n.a. n.a. 9.0 (8.8) n.a. 7.0 (7.0)
  • Specifications in brackets: Automatic transmission models
  1. ^ Automatic models in Austria with reduced final gear ratio: only 170 km/h


  1. ^ Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 4, 1. Auflage. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  2. ^ "1982 BMW 528e specifications". 
  3. ^ "BMW E28 5 Series 518i Specs". Retrieved 13 May 2017. 
  4. ^ "The BMW 5 Series History. The 2nd Generation (E28)". Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  5. ^ BMW: 518 520i 525i 528i. February 1982.
  6. ^ "BMW E28 5 Series". 
  7. ^ a b Büschi, Hans-Ulrich, ed. (March 5, 1987). Automobil Revue 1987 (in German and French). 82. Berne, Switzerland: Hallwag AG. ISBN 3-444-00458-3. 
  8. ^ Heitz, Rudolf, ed. (1983). Auto Katalog 1984 (in German). 27. Stuttgart: Vereinigte Motor-Verlage GmbH & Co. KG. p. 242. 
  9. ^ "Curbside Classic: 1984 BMW 528e – The Low Rev Modest Driving Machine". Retrieved 15 May 2017. 
  10. ^ BMW: 525e 525e Katalysator. 1985
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i BMW AG, ed. (1985-08) (in German), [ Betriebsanleitung, Serviceheft 518, 520i, 525e, 525i, 528i, 535i, M535i, 524td], Retrieved 2017-02-20 
  12. ^ BMW M88/3 Automobilmotor
  13. ^ "5' E28 model selection". 
  14. ^ Taylor, James (February 2016). BMW M5: The Complete Story. Ramsbury, Marlborough Wiltshire: The Crowood Press UK. ISBN 1785000462. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  15. ^ "M5 E28". Retrieved 16 December 2013. 
  16. ^ 518, 520i, 525i, 528i. Pages 6 and 50