BMW 5 Series & M5 — History, Generations & Models

The BMW 5 Series has long been synonymous with luxury, performance, and cutting-edge technology. Since its inception in 1972, the BMW 5 Series has consistently pushed the boundaries of what a midsize luxury sedan can be. 

Over the years, each generation has brought forth innovations, design enhancements, and driving dynamics that have solidified the BMW 5 Series as a benchmark in the automotive world. It even gave birth to the iconic BMW M5. In this DubiCars Car Spotlight article, we take a journey through the history and evolution of the BMW 5 Series.

First Generation (E12) | 1972 – 1981

The story of the BMW 5 Series begins with the E12 generation, introduced in 1972. Designed to replace the successful but smaller BMW New Class sedans, it featured a sleek design, combining sharp lines with the signature kidney grille, creating an elegant yet sporty aesthetic. 

First Gen BMW 5 Series

The first gen 5 Series was not just about looks; it introduced several technological advancements for its time. These included a four-link rear suspension, ensuring superior handling and comfort. The BMW 5 Series E12 was powered by a 1.8-litre inline-4 or a series of inline-6 engines ranging from 2.0-litres to 3.5-litres in capacity. 

Second Generation (E28) | 1981 – 1988

Building on the success of the E12, the E28 generation debuted in 1981, bringing further refinement and innovation to the 5 Series. The iconic quad circular headlamp setup was retained and the design evolved with cleaner lines and an emphasis on aerodynamics. 

Second Gen BMW 5 Series

The E28 showcased BMW’s commitment to performance, introducing the M5 variant in 1985, which became an instant success and set the stage for future high-performance models. 

The same petrol engine options were retained, but it now featured a new 2.4-litre diesel engine for the very first time. The M5 model featured a 256hp 3.5-litre inline-6 paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox.

Third Generation (E34) | 1987 – 1996

In 1987, the E34 generation took the 5 Series to new heights with its emphasis on aerodynamics, safety, and advanced engineering. The design reflected a more rounded and aerodynamic profile, signaling the changing design trends of the late ’80s and early ’90s. 

Third Gen BMW 5 Series

The E34 introduced features such as stability control and traction control, enhancing both safety and performance. Under the bonnet, the E34 offered a range of engines, including the first V8 engine in a 5 Series model. The M5 though was still powered by an inline-6, however, it now produced 336hp.

Fourth Generation (E39) | 1995 – 2004

The E39 generation, introduced in 1995, is often regarded as a high point in the 5 Series history. With its sophisticated design and advanced technology, the E39 set new standards for luxury sedans. The exterior design featured a blend of elegance and athleticism, while the interior boasted a driver-oriented cockpit and high-quality materials. 

Fourth Gen BMW 5 Series

The signature circular headlamps were replaced by sleek halogen units. The E39 was ahead of its time, introducing features such as satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers, and a multi-function steering wheel. 

The E39 BMW M5 was powered by a 5.0-liter V8 engine. This solidified the 5 Series’ reputation for performance and became an enthusiast’s favorite.

Fifth Generation (E60, E61) | 2003 – 2010

The dawn of the 21st century brought the E60 and E61 generations of the 5 Series in 2003. These models showcased a departure from the traditional design language, featuring more angular and distinctive lines.  The E60 and E61, while divisive in terms of design, continued the 5 Series tradition of performance and innovation. 

Fifth Gen BMW 5 Series

Technological advancements included the iDrive infotainment system, adaptive headlights, and active cruise control. An F1-derived high-revving V10 engine powered the E60 BMW M5. It became a performance icon, demonstrating BMW’s commitment to pushing boundaries in the pursuit of driving pleasure. Standard models featured a range of petrol and diesel engines.

Sixth Generation (F10, F11, F07, F18) | 2009 – 2017

In 2009, the F10 generation marked a return to a more conservative design approach. Thereby, it addressed some of the criticisms aimed at its predecessor. The F10 featured a more understated yet elegant exterior, with a focus on aerodynamics and efficiency. 

Sixth Gen BMW 5 Series

The F10 generation embraced fuel efficiency with the introduction of the ActiveHybrid 5 model, with a hybrid powertrain. Additionally, advancements in connectivity and driver assistance systems, such as lane departure warning and night vision, further elevated the 5 Series.

The sixth generation BMW 5 Series was available with multiple body types. The sedan carried the F10 codename, the Touring — F11, Gran Turismo — F07, and the long-wheelbase sedan — F18. A turbocharged V8 producing 553hp powered the M5 of this generation.

Seventh Generation (G30, G31, G38) | 2016 – 2023

The G30 generation, introduced in 2016, continued the 5 Series legacy with a focus on performance, luxury, and technological innovation. The exterior design featured sleek lines and a distinctive kidney grille. 

Seventh Gen BMW 5 Series

The G30 showcased BMW’s commitment to lightweight construction, incorporating aluminum and high-strength steel to enhance both performance and fuel efficiency. Inside the cabin, the G30 featured the latest advancements in technology, including the latest iteration of the iDrive system, gesture control, and semi-autonomous driving capabilities. 

The G30 BMW M5, equipped with an M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, demonstrated that the 5 Series could deliver exhilarating performance while maintaining everyday usability. The M5 of this generation featured a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 producing 617hp!

Eighth Generation (G60, G61, G68) | 2023 – Present

The most recent addition to the 5 Series lineage, the G60 generation, made its debut in 2023. Building on the successes of its predecessors, the G60 continued to refine the design, performance, and technology of the 5 Series. The exterior is modern and dynamic, with attention to aerodynamics and visual appeal.

Eighth Gen BMW 5 Series

Under the bonnet, the G60 featured a range of powertrains, including traditional combustion engines, hybrid options, and electric variants, aligning with the industry’s shift toward electrification. The interior continued the tradition of luxury and innovation, with advanced driver-assistance systems, augmented reality displays, and an enhanced iDrive system.

The fifth, sixth, and seventh generations of the BMW 5 Series are the most popular generations of the executive sedan in the UAE. However, classic car enthusiasts love the first, second, 3rd, and 4th generations of the 5 Series.

Find new BMW 5 Series sedans for sale in the UAE and used BMW 5 Series sedans for sale in the UAE.

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