BMW 5 Series (E39)

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BMW 5 Series (E39)
2000-2003 BMW 525i (E39) Executive sedan (2010-10-02) 01.jpg
Manufacturer BMW
Production September 1995 – June 2003 (sedan)
June 1996 – April 2004 (wagon)
Assembly Germany: Dingolfing
Mexico: Toluca[1]
Russia: Kaliningrad[2]
Designer Joji Nagashima (1992)
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size luxury / Executive car (E)
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door estate
Layout Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 2.0 L M52B20 I6
2.0 L M52TUB20 I6
2.2 L M54B22 I6
2.4 L M52B24 I6
2.5 L M52B25 I6
2.5 L M52TUB25 I6
2.5 L M54B25 I6
2.8 L M52B28 I6
2.8 L M52TUB28 I6
3.0 L M54B30 I6
3.5 L M62B35 V8
3.5 L M62TUB35 V8
4.4 L M62B44 V8
4.4 L M62TUB44 V8
4.9 L S62 V8
2.0 L M47D20 turbodiesel I4
2.5 L M51D25TU OL turbodiesel I6
2.5 L M51D25 UL turbodiesel I6
2.5 L M57D25 turbodiesel I6
3.0 L M57D30 turbodiesel I6
Transmission 5-speed ZF S5-39 manual[3]
6-speed Getrag 420G manual[3]
4-speed GM 4L30-E (A4S270R) automatic[4]
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S360R) automatic[4]
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S390R) automatic[4]
5-speed ZF 5HP19 (A5S325Z) automatic[4]
5-speed ZF 5HP24 (A5S440Z) automatic[4]
5-speed ZF 5HP30 (A5S560Z) automatic[4]
Wheelbase 2,830 mm (111.4 in)
Length 4,775 mm (188.0 in) (saloon)
4,806 mm (189.2 in) (estate)
Width 1,801 mm (70.9 in)
Height 1,435 mm (56.5 in) (saloon)
1,415 mm (55.7 in) (2000-03 540i saloon)
1,440 mm (56.7 in) (1997-99 estate)
1,417 mm (55.8 in) (1997-99 540i saloon)
1,486 mm (58.5 in) (2000-03 estate)
Curb weight 1,480–1,800 kg (3,260–3,970 lb)
Predecessor BMW 5 Series (E34)
Successor BMW 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 in 2003, however E39 Touring models remained in production until 2004.

The E39 was the first 5 Series to use aluminium components in the front suspension. The proportion of chassis components using aluminium significantly increased for the E39,[5] in order to reduce weight. It was also the first 5 Series where a four-cylinder diesel engine was available.

V8 models use recirculating ball steering (as per previous 5 Series generations), however rack and pinion steering was used for the first time, in the four-cylinder and six-cylinder models. Unlike its E34 predecessor and E60 successor, the E39 was not available with all-wheel drive.

The M5 sedan was introduced in 1998, powered by the 4.9-litre S62 V8 engine.

Development and launch[edit]

Development for the E34's successor began in early 1989, internally known as "Entwicklung 39" and ended in 1995. The final design by Joji Nagashima was selected in June 1992 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, utilizing an E39 prototype. The first pilot production models were built in February 1995, with full-scale production starting later in the year. In May 1995 BMW published the first official photos of the E39.[6] The E39 premiered in September 1995 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.[7] In December 1995 sales began on the European mainland.[8]



The E39 all-steel body acts as a safety cage for occupant protection. The structural rigidity of the monocoque was increased using computer-aided engineering. This allows key points to be reinforced, to increase rigidity, without significantly adding to the weight. The overall increase is 10 kilograms (22 lb), which is offset by the aluminium suspension. Laser welding techniques ensure rigid bonding throughout.[9] Another area of focus in the design of the body was in structural dynamics. The body was designed so that the 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; thus they will not amplify them.[10]

The aerodynamically designed body and features of the E39 gave the 528i and 540i, 0.28 and 0.31 drag coefficients respectively. Torsional rigidity was also increased over the E34, by 40 percent.[10] The chassis was so stiff that the rigidity was only improved by 2.75 percent torsionally and 1.92 percent in bending for the E60 model.[11] This added stiffness allows the suspension to work with more accuracy. It also allows total engineering of ride quality through the suspension; rather than in combination with body flex.[10]

The complete vehicle redesign draws heavily from the E38 7 Series in body construction and electronic technology. The mid-level BMW saloon showed evolutionary styling changes rather than a dramatic redesign. Initially offered only as a saloon, the wheelbase grew by 68 millimetres (2.7 in) and overall length by 55 millimetres (2.2 in) over the previous 5-series, the E34.


Unusually, two vastly 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,[12] the first time this system has been used in a 5 Series. This system steers from the front of the axle.[10] Models with V8 engines use recirculating ball steering, as per the previous generations of 5 Series.[10]


Six-cylinder models also receive an aluminium front subframe. The struts use aluminium "Tension Link" that comes from a forward position back to the front of the wheel and an aluminium horizontal link to locate them. Aluminium is used for the steering knuckles, outer strut tube, and the spring pads; saving 21 kilograms (46 lb).[10]

With the 540i, BMW retained the front steering and suspension from the previous E34 540i with the design based on the E38 7 Series.[10] The physical size, dimensions, and weight of the V8 engine required the use of the older recirculating ball steering. This system steers from the back side of the axle.[12] The front subframe is steel. To compensate for the heavier front end, BMW used extra aluminium in components including the steering box, steering knuckles, outer strut tube, and the spring pads. The struts are located by an aluminium "Thrust Link" that comes from the rear to meet the back of the wheel and an aluminium horizontal link.[10]

The rear suspension consists of a four link design (called "Z-link"), which is similar to the system used by the E38 7 Series. Chapman struts are used and the design minimises unintentional toe angle changes, which increases the stability of the handling.[10]

In-car entertainment / navigation[edit]

Up until September 1997, the factory navigation systems were based on the first generation MKI (or Mark I) Navigation system,[13] which uses a 4:3 screen and stores the maps on a CD. The MKI system was replaced by the MKII, which was used until E39 the mid-life facelift (September 2000).[14] Introduced as part of the facelift, the MKIII used a 16:9 screen.[15] In September 2002, the MKIV navigation system was introduced, which stores the maps on a DVD instead of CD.


At launch, the base model was the 520i, which developed 112 kilowatts (150 hp) in the pre-update models, and 126 kilowatts (170 hp) in later models. In the United States, the new 5 Series came in two forms: the 528i and 540i. The 1996 528i introduced a new M52 in-line six that it shared with the E36 328i, the 540i a 4.4-litre M62 V8 shared with the E38 740i. Both engines were upgraded over the prior 5 Series generation. The 2.8-litre dual overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine made 141 kilowatts (190 hp), versus 210 kilowatts (282 hp) for the 4.4-litre dual overhead camshaft, all-aluminium V8. A ZF S5-31 five-speed close-ratio manual transmission was standard on the 528i, with an optional A4S 310 R four-speed automatic or (in Rest of World models) a A5S310Z five-speed Steptronic transmission (based on the ZF 5HP18). The 540i, in contrast, could have either a Getrag six-speed manual or a new five-speed A5S 560Z automatic transmission with adaptive transmission control (with or without Steptronic option). Standard equipment on both models included dual front and side airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, power steering, and air conditioning.[16][17] An M5 variant was introduced in 1998, with a 4.9-litre S62 V8 engine.

European model range[edit]

Various engine sizes and configurations have been available. The European range was more diverse, with BMW offering the 520i, 523i, 525i, 528i, 530i, 535i, 540i, 525tds, 520d (the only four-cylinder 5-Series engine on this generation), 525d, 530d and M5. There was also the lower-powered 525td, although this model was restricted to certain markets.

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. In 2001, the 528i was discontinued and replaced by the 525i and 530i. The 540i was initially powered by the 210 kW (280 hp) 4.4-litre M62B44 V8 which was derived from the earlier E34 5 Series' M60, but included upgraded cylinder block material, electronics, and more displacement. In September 1998, the 540i received the further upgraded M62TUB44. This engine supported a VANOS variable valve timing system, and had electronic throttle control. Power was slightly increased to 220 kW (290 hp) for 1998 to 2003 model year 540i's.

Petrol engines[edit]

Model Power Torque Transmission Weight Years
520i 110 kW (150 PS; 148 bhp) @ 5900 190 N·m (140 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed Getrag manual
5-speed ZF 5HP18 (A5S310Z) automatic
1,495 kg (3,296 lb), 1,595 kg (3,516 lb) (Touring)
1,530 kg (3,370 lb) (auto), 1,630 kg (3,590 lb) (Touring auto)
125 kW (170 PS; 168 bhp) @ 6250 210 N·m (150 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed manual
5-speed ZF 5HP19 (A5S325Z) automatic
523i 125 kW (170 PS; 168 bhp) @ 5500 245 N·m (181 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed Getrag S5D 250G manual 1,475 kg (3,252 lb), 1,580 kg (3,480 lb) (Touring) 1995–2000
5-speed automatic 1,510 kg (3,330 lb), 1,615 kg (3,560 lb) (Touring)
525i 141 kW (192 PS; 189 bhp) @ 6000 245 N·m (181 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed Getrag manual 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), 1,605 kg (3,538 lb) (Touring), 1,565 kg (3,450 lb) (US), 1,690 kg (3,730 lb) (Touring US) 2000.09-2003
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S390R) automatic[18] rowspan="2" | 1,535 kg (3,384 lb), 1,640 kg (3,620 lb) (Touring), 1,600 kg (3,500 lb) (US), 1,725 kg (3,803 lb) (Touring US) 2000.09 – 2001.03
5-speed ZF 5HP19 (A5S325Z) automatic[18] 2001.03 – 2003
528i 142 kW (193 PS; 190 bhp) @ 5500 280 N·m (210 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed ZF S5-39 manual 1,500 kg (3,300 lb), 1,615 kg (3,560 lb) (Touring), 1,585 kg (3,494 lb) (US), 1,690 kg (3,730 lb) (Touring US) 1995-2000
4-speed GM 4L30-E (A4S270R) automatic[18] 1,535 kg (3,384 lb), 1,650 kg (3,640 lb) (Touring), 1,620 kg (3,570 lb) (US), 1,725 kg (3,803 lb) (Touring US) 1995 – 1999
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S360R) automatic[18] 1999.09 – 2000.08
530i 170 kW (231 PS; 228 bhp) @ 5900 300 N·m (220 ft·lbf) @ 3500 5-speed manual
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S390R) automatic[18]
1,540 kg (3,400 lb), 1,645 kg (3,627 lb) (Touring), 1,585 kg (3,494 lb) (US)
1,575 kg (3,472 lb) (auto), 1,670 kg (3,680 lb) (Touring auto), 1,610 kg (3,550 lb) (US; auto)
2000.09 – 2001.03
5-speed ZF 5HP19 (A5S325Z) automatic[18] 2001.03 – 2003
535i 180 kW (245 PS; 241 bhp) @ 5800 345 N·m (254 ft·lbf) @ 3800 5-speed manual
5-speed ZF 5HP24 (A5S440Z) automatic
1,610 kg (3,550 lb)
1,645 kg (3,627 lb) (auto)
540i 210 kW (286 PS; 282 bhp) @ 5400 440 N·m (320 ft·lbf) @ 3600 5-speed ZF 5HP30 (A5S560Z) automatic[18][19] 1,675 kg (3,693 lb), 1,745 kg (3,847 lb) (Touring), 1,760 kg (3,880 lb) (US), 1,800 kg (4,000 lb) (armor) 1995 – 1997.01
5-speed ZF 5HP24 (A5S440Z) automatic[18] 1997.01 – 1997.08
217 kW (295 PS; 291 bhp) @ 5400 460 N·m (340 ft·lbf) @ 3600 6-speed Getrag 420G manual 1,630 kg (3,590 lb), 1,725 kg (3,803 lb) (US), 1,740 kg (3,840 lb) (Touring), 1,840 kg (4,060 lb) (Touring US) 1998.09 – 2003
M5 294 kW (400 PS; 394 bhp) @ 6600 500 N·m (370 ft·lbf) @ 3800 6-speed Getrag 420G manual 1998–2003

Diesel engines[edit]

Model Power Torque Transmission Weights Years
520d 100 kW (136 PS; 134 bhp) @ 4000 280 N·m (210 ft·lbf) @ 1750 5-speed manual 1,490 kg (3,280 lb), 1,595 kg (3,516 lb) (Touring) 2000–2003
525d 120 kW (163 PS; 161 bhp) @ 4000 350 N·m (260 ft·lbf) @ 2000 5-speed manual (ZF GS5-39DZ) 1,595 kg (3,516 lb), 1,705 kg (3,759 lb) (Touring)
1,630 kg (3,590 lb) (auto), 1,740 kg (3,840 lb) (Touring auto)
525td 85 kW (116 PS; 114 bhp) @ 4800 230 N·m (170 ft·lbf) @ 1900 5-speed manual 1,480 kg (3,263 lb) 1997–2000
525tds 105 kW (143 PS; 141 bhp) @ 4600 280 N·m (210 ft·lbf) @ 2200 5-speed manual[20]
5-speed ZF 5HP18 (A5S310Z) automatic[21]
1,480 kg (3,260 lb), 1,575 kg (3,472 lb) (Touring)
1,515 kg (3,340 lb) (auto), 1,610 kg (3,550 lb) (Touring auto)
530d 135 kW (184 PS; 181 bhp) @ 4000 390 N·m (290 ft·lbf) @ 1750 5-speed manual (ZF GS5-39DZ)
5-speed GM 5L40-E (A5S360R) automatic
1,625 kg (3,583 lb), 1,735 kg (3,825 lb) (Touring)
1,660 kg (3,660 lb) (auto), 1,770 kg (3,900 lb) (Touring auto)
142 kW (193 PS; 190 bhp) @ 4000 410 N·m (300 ft·lbf) @ 1750 2000–2003
Figures specified are for European saloon models.[22]

Running changes[edit]

BMW 523i sedan (Australia; pre-facelift)
BMW 523i sedan (Europe; pre-facelift)
BMW 525i (Australia; facelift)
BMW 530d estate (Europe; facelift)

Changes by model year (US):


The 1997 model year 5 series E39 was introduced into the US market in the spring of 1996. Models available were the 528i with an I6, and the 540i with a M62 V8. The on-board computer, called the Multi-Information System (MID), was upgraded in mid-1997. The 528i E39 was the first car ever to be fitted with CBC - Cornering Brake Control.


For 1998 optional rear side airbags became available, and both models also gained BMW's exclusive new Head Protection System, which consists of two tubular bags that inflate upon a side impact and pop out just above each front door. A new Sport Package for the 528i and 540i, as well as an automatic transmission 540i were added options. The Sport Package included black body trim (standard models had chrome around the top of the windows), a sport-tuned suspension, and 17-inch (430 mm) wheels and tires. In September 1998, the 540i's M62B44 was updated to the M62TUB44, adding 15 lb·ft (20 N·m) of torque. DSC first became available on 540i with automatic transmission as of 9/97

The high-performance M5 saloon returned to the BMW fold. Built in limited numbers, the M5 used a 400 hp (300 kW) V8 S62, and came with a firmer suspension, 18 inch wheels, a 6-speed manual transmission, and exclusive interior trim.[23] Lower-body rear side airbags were standard on the M5, remaining optional for other models.


1999 saw the introduction of the Touring (estate) body style and joined saloons in both I6 and V8 versions. New options for 1999 included brighter xenon headlights (only low beam), Park Distance Control that warns of obstacles when backing up, and self-leveling rear suspension for estates. Standard on V8 models and newly optional for 528i versions was BMW's Dynamic Stability Control, designed to aid control in fast turns. Dual stage airbags were added for front occupants as of 03/99.[24] The M52 2.8-liter I6 engines were now an all-aluminium block and head with the introduction of double VANOS, as opposed to the previous single VANOS iron block/aluminium head M52. M62 4.4-liter V8 engines were updated with single VANOS and electronic throttle control. The addition of VANOS provided a flatter torque curve, with higher max torque at a lower peak rpm. The "M Sport" package was added (replacing the standard sport package), and included the M Sport steering wheel, door sills, and shift knob, as well as revisions to the suspension tuning, brakes, wheels and tires.


In 2000, rain-sensing windshield wipers and xenon headlamps became standard on the 540i, and were newly available for 528i models. The 528i versions also gained the 540i's standard stability control system. All models now had daytime running lights, and fog lamps.


For the 2001 model year (Cars made from September 2000), BMW updated the E39 with newer, clear-lens tail, side marker, new design steering wheel and headlights which first displayed the now-popular "angel eyes." Rear tail lights were changed to "wave-guide" LEDs (Hella, the OEM, refers to these lights as "CELIS"), while the side and rear turn signals were changed from amber lenses to clear. The black trim was now painted to match the body color, and the front bumper now featured rounded fog lights. Internally many changes were made to electronics; items such as window regulators and the air conditioning were updated. The 528i was replaced by the 530i which had a new 170 kW (228 hp) M54B30 3.0 L inline-6. A new entry-level 525i was introduced featuring a 143 kW (192 hp) M54B25 2.5 L I6 and a slightly lower price. The available navigation system was changed to a wide screen version. The front grille was also changed to a new, more pronounced design.


For 2002, BMW Steptronic-equipped E39s had their manual shift direction switched to match BMW's SMG (forwards to downshift, backwards to upshift) and automatic headlights were added. Also, in 2002 the 540i V8 32V engine power was increased from 210 kW (282 hp) to 216 kW (290 hp)[25] while torque remained the same. All models received a standard in-dash CD player,[26] 6-cylinder models added a standard power passenger seat, and the 525i received automatic climate control standard.[27] Consumer Reports declared the 2002 BMW E39 the best car they had ever reviewed.


2003 marked the last full model year for the E39 platform; they were differentiated by the addition of extra chrome trim on the trunk (boot) and on the sides of the body. In all 6-cylinder models of the 5-Series, the sunroof became standard. The optional navigation systems upgraded from CD-ROM format (8 CDs to cover the entire USA and Canada) to a single DVD-ROM.[28] The optional sport package on the 540i carried parts from M-technic. This included full M-tech ground effects, M-tech II suspension, 18 inch style 37 wheels, and a variety of M badging. Isofix/LATCH child seat anchors were added. The E39 estate (touring) was continued into 2004 until the touring version of the new 5 Series (E61) was released.


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