BMW 5 Series (E39)

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BMW 5 Series (E39)
2000-2003 BMW 525i (E39) Executive sedan (2010-10-02) 01.jpg
ProductionMay 1995– May 2004
AssemblyGermany: Dingolfing
DesignerJoji Nagashima (1992)
Body and chassis
ClassExecutive car (E)[1]
Body style4-door sedan/saloon
5-door wagon/estate
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel drive
  • Petrol:
  • 2.0-3.0 L M52/M54 I6
  • 3.5-4.9 L M62/S62 V8
  • Diesel (turbocharged) :
  • 2.0 L M47 I4
  • 2.5-2.9 L M51/M57 I6
Wheelbase2,830 mm (111.4 in)
Length4,775–4,805 mm (188.0–189.2 in)[2][3]
Width1,800 mm (70.9 in)
Height1,435–1,445 mm (56.5–56.9 in)[2][3]
Curb weight1,685–1,845 kg (3,715–4,068 lb)[4][5]
PredecessorBMW 5 Series (E34)
SuccessorBMW 5 Series (E60)

The BMW E39 is the fourth generation of BMW 5 Series, which was sold from 1995 to 2004. It was launched in the sedan body style, with the wagon/estate body style (marketed as "Touring") introduced in 1996. The E39 was replaced by the E60 5 Series in 2003, however E39 Touring models remained in production until May 2004.[6][7]

The proportion of chassis components using aluminium significantly increased for the E39, and it was the first 5 Series to use aluminium for all major components in the front suspension or any in the rear. It was also the first 5 Series where a four-cylinder diesel engine was available. Rack and pinion steering was used for the first time in a 5 Series (with the exception of the E34 525iX), being fitted to the four-cylinder and six-cylinder models. Unlike its E34 predecessor and E60 successor, the E39 was not available with all-wheel drive.

The high performance M5 sedan was introduced in 1998, powered by the 4.9-litre S62 V8 engine. It was the first M5 model to be powered by a V8 engine.

Development and launch[edit]

Development for the E34's successor began in 1989,[citation needed] and ended in 1995. The final design by Joji Nagashima was selected in June 1992[8][9] and later frozen for production under new design chief Chris Bangle. With design selection in 1992, the series development phase began and took 39 months till start of production. The domestic German design patent was filed on 20 April 1994, with an E39 prototype.[10]

In May 1995 BMW published the first official photos of the E39.[11] The E39 premiered in September 1995 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.[12][13] In December 1995 sales of sedan models began on the European mainland.[14] Production of wagon/estate models began in November 1996.[15](p7)

Body styles[edit]


Interior: pre-facelift
Interior: post-facelift (with M-sport steering wheel)

A "latent heat accumulator" was available as an option up until September 1999.[16][17] The accumulator stores engine heat by converting a salt from solid to liquid form (phase transition).[18][19] The insulated tank can store heat for several days. The next time the vehicle is started, this heat is automatically used to reduce exhaust emissions (by heating the engine up to operating temperature quicker), for cabin heating and window defrosting.[20]

Separate to the latent heat accumulator is the Residual Heat function (activated by a button labelled "REST"), [21](p104) which allows the demister and cabin heater to use the heat of an engine that has recently been turned off (using an electric pump to push hot coolant through the heater core).

The E39 was one of the first vehicles (alongside the E38 7 Series) to have curtain airbags, which protect the occupants' heads in a side impact.[22]

Standard equipment on the launch models included dual front and side airbags, pretensioners and load limiters for the front seatbelts,[23] anti-lock brakes, traction control, power steering, and air conditioning.[24][25] , Satellite navigation was also available, initially using maps on CD, then moving to DVD maps in 2002. Along with these options, on North American Touring models roof rails for mounting a roof rack came standard.

All North American Models from factory arrived pre-wired for mobile phones. It was a dealer option to have a mobile phone installed into the center console.

Special options available options on touring models were either a roller blind or extending cargo cover with patrician net[26] for the rear cargo area, roller sun visors for rear and side windows.[27]


At launch, the petrol engines consisted of the M52 straight-six and M62 V8,[28] which were both new engines at the time. In late 1998, the "technical update" (TÜ) versions of these engines were introduced, introducing double VANOS to the M52 and single VANOS to the M62, this increased torque at low rpm.[29] At the 2000 facelift (LCI), the M52 straight-six engine was replaced by its successor the M54, however the M62TÜ remained in use for the V8 models.[30] The M54B30 (used in the E46 330i and E39 530i) topped the Ward's 10 Best Engines list in 2002 and 2003.[31]

The initial diesel models used the M51 straight-six turbo-diesel engine. In 1998, its successor the M57 was introduced, however the M51 also remained in production for two more years. In 1999, the M47 four-cylinder turbo-diesel was introduced in the 520d model, which is the only E39 model to use a four-cylinder engine.[32]


ZF 5HP-30 automatic transmission

Manual transmissions[edit]

  • 5-speed ZF S5-39DZ[33] (525d,530d)
  • 5-speed S5D 250G (523i,528i from 1996, 520i, 525i)
  • 5-speed S5D 260Z (525td)
  • 5 speed S5D 320Z (523i up to 1996, 530i, 535i)
  • 6-speed Getrag 420G[33] (540i, M5)

Automatic transmissions[edit]

Note that the 523i, 525i, 528i and 530i had several overlapping automatic transmission options for some years.

Differential ratios[edit]

Model Tranmission Production year Final Gear Body style
525i Manual 2000-2003 3,15 Sedan
3,23 Touring
Automatic 2000-2000 3,15 Sedan/Touring
2000-2003 3,46 Sedan/Touring
528i Manual 1995-2000 2,93 Sedan
1998-2000 3,07 Touring
Automatic 1995-1999 4,10 Sedan/Touring
1999-2000 3,46 Sedan/Touring
530i Manual 2000-2003 2,93 Sedan
Automatic 3,46 Sedan
540i Manual 1995-2003 2,81 Sedan/Touring
Automatic 3,15 Sedan/Touring
M5 Manual 1999-2003 3,15 Sedan

Figures shown are for North American models[36]


Unusually, two different steering systems were used for the E39, depending on the engine. Models with four-cylinder and six-cylinder models use rack and pinion steering,[37] the first time this system has been used in a 5 Series. This system steers from the front of the axle.[38] Models with V8 engines use recirculating ball steering, as per the previous generations of 5 Series.[38]

Chassis and body[edit]

Compared with its E34 predecessor, the E39 wheelbase grew by 68 mm (2.7 in) and overall length by 55 mm (2.2 in). Torsional rigidity was increased over the E34 by 40 percent, which reduces body flex and allows the suspension to operate more accurately, also improving ride quality.[38] Due to a stiffer body shell, the weight of the chassis increased by 10 kg (22 lb),[39] which is offset by the reduced weight of some aluminium suspension components. The wagon version was 85 mm (3.3 in) longer than the previous generation (E34) and weighed approximately 40 kg (88 lb) more.[40]

Structural dynamics was also an objective of the body design, so the body's frequencies for torsional twisting and bending are in separate ranges and above natural frequency. These frequencies are out of the range of engine and driveline vibrations, to avoid vibrations being amplified.[38]


The E39 was the first 5 Series to use aluminium for most components in the front suspension. The proportion of chassis components using aluminium significantly increased for the E39.[41]

The front suspension consists of a double-jointed version of the MacPherson strut,[42][43] with six-cylinder cars using an aluminium front subframe. Aluminium is used for the steering knuckles, outer strut tube and the spring pads, resulting in a weight saving of 21 kg (46 lb).[38] V8 models also use aluminium in the steering box and several suspension links,[38] to compensate for the heavier steel subframe.

The rear suspension consists of a four link design (called "Z-link"), which is similar to the system used by the E38 7 Series. The design minimises unintentional toe angle changes, which increases the stability of the handling.[38]

Wagon self-levelling suspension[edit]

Schematic diagram of self-levelling rear suspension
Touring with "Sport Package"

The Touring model was the first BMW model to use air suspension (self-levelling suspension was first used by BMW for the E23 7 Series with a closed-loop nitrogen system that operated in parallel with the steel springs).[44] This "self leveling" system controls the ride height of the rear of the vehicle and is designed to keep the center of the wheel a specified distances from the lip of the fender as the weight of the load in the cargo area varies.

Instead of using a traditional coil springs separated from a strut or a coilover design, the system uses pneumatic springs paired with air reservoirs. These reservoirs are connected to an air compressor mounted inside the spare tire well beneath the spare tire.[45]

The air system is controlled by two Hall effect sensors at the rear of the vehicle.[45] These sensors tell the EHC (electric height control) if the rear ride height needs to be adjusted and adjust headlight height for vehicles equipped with Xenon headlights.[45] When a door or the rear hatch is opened and then closed the control module will constantly monitor the input signals from the HALL sensors and will activate a correction if the ride height has change greater than 10mm.[45] During normal operation the system stays online but does not adjust to conditions such as potholes.[44]


Petrol engines[edit]

M54 straight-six engine in an E39 525i
M62TU V8 engine in an E39 540i
Model Years Engine Power Torque
520i 1995–1998 M52B20
110 kW (148 hp) at 5,900 rpm 190 N⋅m (140 lb⋅ft) at 4,200 rpm
1998–2000   M52TUB20   
110 kW (148 hp) at 5,900 rpm 190 N⋅m (140 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm
2000–2003 M54B22
125 kW (168 hp)
at 6,100 rpm
210 N⋅m (155 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
523i 1995–1998 M52B25
125 kW (168 hp) at 5,500 rpm 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 3,950 rpm
1998–2000 M52TUB25
125 kW (168 hp) at 5,500 rpm 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm
525i 2000–2003 M54B25
141 kW (189 hp) at 6,000 rpm 245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm
528i 1995–1998 M52B28
142 kW (190 hp) at 5,300 rpm 280 N⋅m (207 lb⋅ft) at 3,950 rpm
1998–2001 M52TUB28
142 kW (190 hp) at 5,500 rpm 280 N⋅m (207 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm
530i 2000–2003 M54B30
170 kW (228 hp) at 5,900 rpm 300 N⋅m (221 lb⋅ft) at 3,500 rpm
535i 1996–1998 M62B35
173 kW (232 hp) at 5,700 rpm 320 N⋅m (236 lb⋅ft) at 3,300 rpm
1998–2003 M62TUB35
180 kW (241 hp) at 5,800 rpm 345 N⋅m (254 lb⋅ft) at 3,800 rpm
540i 1995–1998 M62B44
210 kW (282 hp) at 5,700 rpm 420 N⋅m (310 lb⋅ft) at 3,900 rpm
1998–2003 M62TUB44
210 kW (282 hp) at 5,400 rpm 440 N⋅m (325 lb⋅ft) at 3,600 rpm
M5 1998–2003 S62B50
294 kW (394 hp) at 6,600 rpm 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft) at 3,800 rpm

Figures shown are for European models.[46] (p18),[47](p40),[48]

Diesel engines[edit]

M51 straight-six turbo-diesel engine
Model Years Engine (turbocharged) Power Torque
520d 2000–2003 M47D20
100 kW (134 hp)
at 4,000 rpm
280 N⋅m (207 lb⋅ft)
at 1,750 rpm
525d 2000–2003 M57D25
120 kW (161 hp) at 4,000 rpm 350 N⋅m (258 lb⋅ft) at 2,000 rpm
525td 1996–2000 M51D25 UL
85 kW (114 hp) at 4,800 rpm 230 N⋅m (170 lb⋅ft) at 1,900 rpm
525tds 1996–2000 M51D25TU OL
105 kW (141 hp) at 4,600 rpm 280 N⋅m (207 lb⋅ft) at 2,200 rpm
530d 1998–2000 M57D30
135 kW (181 hp) at 4,000 rpm 390 N⋅m (288 lb⋅ft) at 1,750 rpm
2000–2003 M57D30
142 kW (190 hp) at 4,000 rpm 410 N⋅m (302 lb⋅ft) at 1,750 rpm

Figures shown are for European models.[46](p18),[47](p40),[48]


North American model range[edit]

From 1997–1998, the E39 model range in North America consisted of the 528i and 540i, In 1999 the M5 was introduced along with two wagon/estate models the 528iT and 540iT. In 2001, the 528i was discontinued and replaced by the 525i (525iT in estate/wagon format) and 530i.

In 2001, the American market 540i's power output was increased to 216 kW (290 hp),[49] unlike other markets where the 540i's power remained at 210 kW (282 hp).[50]

Sales in the United States for May 1999 to May 2000 were 19,294 vehicles.[51] The following year, sales for May 2000 to May 2001 were 15,233 vehicles.

Indonesian model range[edit]

In Indonesia, the initial model range in 1996 was the 523i and 528i,[52] with only the 523i available with a manual transmission. Following the September 2000 facelift, the line-up consisted of 520i, 525i and 530i. Indonesian models were assembled in Jakarta from complete knock-down kits.

M5 version[edit]

BMW M5 (post-facelift)

The M5 version of the E39 was Introduced in 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show and was produced from 1998 to 2003. It was powered by the S62 V8 engine. All E39 M5 cars were sold in the sedan body style with a 6-speed manual transmission.

Special models[edit]

Alpina B10 and D10[edit]

Alpina B10 V8

The petrol engine Alpina B10 3.2, 3.3, V8 and V8S models were built in sedans and wagon body styles based on the E39 from January 1997 to May 2004.[53]

In February 2000, Alpina introduced the Alpina D10 Biturbo, the first six-cylinder diesel model produced by Alpina. The engine, a 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged unit rated at 180 kW (241 hp) and 500 N⋅m (369 lb⋅ft) of torque, was based on the engine of the BMW 530d.[53]

Protection line[edit]

The 540i Protection light-armored vehicle was launched in Europe in September 1997 and in North America from January 1998.[54] These models included aramid fiber armor, bullet-resistant glass that is coated with polycarbonate to reduce spall. The 540i Protection is rated to withstand the impact of handgun fire up to and including .44 Magnum,[55] the glass is also protected from attack with blunt objects such as baseball bats and bricks.[56] The additional security measures brought an additional weight of 130 kg (287 lb) compared to the normal 540i sedan.[57] on request, an intercom system was available and from January 1998 run-flat tyres were available.[55]

Model year changes[edit]

Most changes occur in September each year, when the changes for the following model year go into production, as is typical BMW practice. Therefore, the changes for 1996 represent the 1997 model year, for example.


  • Wagon/Estate body style (called Touring) introduced.
  • 525td model introduced.


  • On-board computer upgraded.
  • Cornering Brake Control introduced.
  • Rear side airbags introduced.
  • Sport Package introduced.
  • Automatic transmission option introduced for 540i.
  • North American sales commence, starting with the 528i and 540i models.


  • M5 model introduced.[58] Lower-body rear side airbags were standard on the M5, remaining optional for other models.
  • M52 straight-six engines updated to M52TU.[59]
  • M62 V8 engines updated to M62TU.[60]
  • 530d model introduced, using the new M57 straight-six turbo-diesel engine.
  • Xenon headlights introduced.
  • Parking sensors ("Park Distance Control") introduced.
  • Self-levelling rear suspension introduced for Estate models.
  • Stability control upgraded (from ASC+T to DSC).
  • Sport Package replaced by "M Sport" package.
  • Self-Adjusting Clutch (SAC) introduced on the straight-six petrol engines.
  • Satellite navigation upgraded from MKI (or Mark I) to MKII.[61][62] Like the MKI, the MKII uses a 4:3 screen and stores the maps on a CD.


  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers introduced (June 1999)[63]
  • North American Market receives Touring model
  • Front seat airbags upgraded to dual stage[64]:page 5
  • 520d introduced, powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine.[65]
  • 525d model (using M57 engine) replaces the 525td model (M51 engine).[65]

2000 facelift[edit]

The E39 facelift (also known as LCI) models were introduced in the 2001 model year (produced from September 2000).[66]

  • 520i, 525i and 530i models (using M54 engines) replace the 523i and 528i model (M52TU engines).[66]
  • 530d model receives power increase.[66]
  • Kidney grilles on all models are changed to those of the M5.[66]
  • Revised "angel eye" headlights.[66]
  • Revised tail lights with LED running lights.[66]
  • Navigation screen updated from 4:3 to larger 16:9 widescreen.[67]


  • Automatic transmission cars had the manual shift direction switched (to forwards for downshifts, backwards for upshifts).
  • Automatic headlights introduced.
  • 540i power increased from 210 kW (282 hp) to 216 kW (290 hp) in the American market.[64]:page 12
  • In-dash CD player becomes standard equipment on all models.[64]:page 12
  • Power passenger seat becomes standard on 6 cylinder models and automatic climate control becomes standard on 525i.[68]
  • 540i M-sport model introduced (not available in the U.S. until 2003)[69]


  • Navigation upgraded from Compact Disk format (8 disks to cover the United States and Canada) to a single DVD.[70]


  • Additional chrome trim added on the trunk (boot) and on the sides of the body.


The M5 was used by several teams in the Italian Superstars Series.[71]


Car and Driver featured the E39 in its "10Best list" six consecutive times, from 1997 to 2002.[72][73] In 2001, Consumer Reports gave the 530i its highest car rating ever, declaring it the best car they had ever reviewed to date.[74]

Other reviewers have also praised the E39 models.[75][76][77][78][79][80]


Euro NCAP scores (1998)[81]
Adult Occupant: 4/5 stars
Pedestrian: 1/4 stars

The series tested for IIHS's "moderate overlap front" test and received 'Good' rating results, the highest available.[82]


The first pilot production models were built in February 1995, with full-scale production starting later in the year.[83] Most cars were built at the Dingolfing factory,[41](p40,46–48) with complete knock-down assembly used in Mexico,[84][85] Indonesia and Russia.[86] CKD production amounted to 17,280, with total production numbering 1,488,038.[87]


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