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2000–2004 BMW 530d sedan.
Automotive industryBMW
(1,533,123 built)[1]
PredecessorBMW E34
SuccessorBMW E60/E61
Car classificationMid-size car
Wheelbase2830 mm (111.4 in)
Length4775 mm (188 in)
Width1800 mm (70.9 in)
Height1435 mm (56.5 in)
Curb weight528i: 1568 kg (3457 lb)
540i: 1704 kg (3757 lb)
RelatedBMW E53

The BMW E39 Automobile platform was the basis for BMW 5 Series between 1995 to 2004. It was the successor of the BMW E34 in 1995, and was phased-out by the E60 platform in 2004. Sales to Germany and the United Kingdom began in 1995, and by 1996 sales to the remaining entities of Europe and the rest of the world had commenced. A mid-life update appeared in 2001, featuring minute detail changes. 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. An M5 variant was introduced in 1998, with a 5.0 litre S62 V8 engine. All models but the M5 were available as either a Sedan (car) or a Station wagon.

Introduced in Europe in 1995, the complete vehicle redesign draws heavily from the E38 7 Series in body construction and electronic technology. The mid-level BMW sedan showed evolutionary styling changes rather than a dramatic redesign. Initially offered only as a sedan, the Wheelbase grew by 68 millimetres (2.7 in) and overall length by 55 millimetres (2.2 in) over the E34. In the US, the new 5 Series came in two forms; the 528i and 540i. The 528i is equipped with the 2.8 litre M52 in-line six carried over from the 1996 E36 328i and the 540i equipped with the 4.4 litre M62 V8. 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-aluminum V8. A ZF Friedrichshafen five-speed Manual transmission without Overdrive (mechanics) was standard on the 528i, with an optional A4S 310 R four-speed Automatic transmission. The 540i, in contrast, could have either a Getrag 420G transmission or a new five-speed A5S 560Z automatic transmission with adaptive transmission control. Standard equipment on both models included dual front and side Airbag, Anti-lock braking system, Traction control, Power steering, and Air conditioning.[2][3]



BMW 525i station wagon (Japan).


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 (20 lb), which is offset by the Aluminium suspension. Laser welding techniques ensure rigid bonding throughout.[4] 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.[5]

The Aerodynamics designed body and features of the E39 gave the 528i and 540i, 0.28 and 0.31 Drag coefficient respectively. Torsional rigidity was also increased over the E34, by 40%.[5] The Chassis was so stiff that the rigidity was unchanged for the E60 model.[6] 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.[5]

Steering and suspension

Interior showcasing the updated E39's Center console (automobile) layout, with optional Navigation screen.

With the E39, two steering types and double pivot, MacPherson strut suspensions systems are used. For the 520i–530i models, BMW, for the first time in a 5 series, utilised Rack and pinion steering.[7] This not only offers weight reductions over the Recirculating ball type used on the V8s, but also provides quick steering response through its variable ratio. This system steers from the front of the Axle.[5]

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 knuckle, outer strut tube, and the spring pads; saving 21 kilograms (46 lb).[5]

With the 540i, BMW retained the front steering and suspension from the previous E34 540i with the design based on the E38 7 Series.[5] The physical size, dimensions, and weight of the V8 540i required that the steering be the older recirculating ball type. This system steers from the back side of the axle.[7] 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.[5]

The E39 employs similar design to the E38 7 Series for the rear suspension, regardless of the model specified. This "four-link integral rear suspension" or "Z-link" axle was first introduced on the BMW Z1. With this, Chapman strut are utilised. Through precise Toe (automotive) angle changes, stable yet responsive handling without unwanted toe change effects under load is achieved.[5]

Engine specifications

Various engine sizes and configurations have been available. The North America market saw the 525i, 528i, 530i, 540i and M5. The European range was however, more diverse, with BMW offering the 520i, 523i, 528i, 530i, 535i, 540i, 525tds, 520d, 525d, 530d and M5.

1998 (pre-facelift) 535i SE Auto E39 saloon (UK spec).

From 1997–2000, the E39 model range in North America consisted of the 528i, 540i, and M5. In 2001, the 528i was discontinued and replaced by the 525i and 530i. The 520i, 523i, 525i and 528i were powered by a 110 kilowatt (150 hp) engine in earlier versions, a 126 kilowatt (170 hp) and 141 kilowatt (190 hp) engines respectively. These were all versions of the Gasoline M52 inline-six engine. The 530i was powered by a 167 kilowatt (225 hp) inline-six, the M54, shared with the E46 330i. The 540i was initially powered by the 210 kilowatt (282 hp) 4.4 litre M62B44 V8 which was derived from the earlier E34 5 Series' M60, but included Alusil, electronics, and more Engine displacement. In September 1998, the 540i received the further upgraded M62TUB44, which was also seen in the E38 (7 Series) and in the BMW E53 (X5). This engine supported a VANOS variable valve timing system, and had Electronic throttle control.

Model Engine type Displacement (Cubic centimetre) Bore/Stroke (mm) Compression ratio Fuel system Power Torque 0-100 Kilometres per hour (Second) Production
520i Straight-6 24V 1991 80/66 1:11.0 Fuel injection 110 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5900 Convert/Nm @ 3500 10.2 (Manual transmission) / 11.5 (Automatic transmission) 1996–2000
520i Straight-6 24V 2171 80/72 1:10.7 Fuel injection 125 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 6250 Convert/Nm @ 3500 9.1(Manual transmission) / 10.2 (Automatic transmission) 2000–2003
523i Straight-6 24V 2496 84/75 1:10.5 Fuel injection 125 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5500 Convert/Nm @ 3500 8.5 (Manual transmission) / 9.6 (Automatic transmission) 1995–2000
525i Straight-6 24V 2494 84/75 1:10.5 Fuel injection 141 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 6000 Convert/Nm @ 3500 8.1 (Manual transmission) / 8.9 (Automatic transmission) 2000–2003
528i Straight-6 24V 2793 84/84 1:10.2 Fuel injection 142 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5500 Convert/Nm @ 3500 7.5 (Manual transmission) / 8.8 (Automatic transmission) 1995–2000
530i Straight-6 24V 2979 84/89.6 1:10.2 Fuel injection 170 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5900 Convert/Nm @ 3500 6.6 (Manual transmission) / 7.6 (Automatic transmission) 2000–2003
535i V8 engine 32V 3498 84/78.9 1:10.0 Fuel injection 180 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5800 Convert/Nm @ 3800 7.4 (Automatic transmission) 1996–2003
540i V8 engine 32V 4398 92/82.7 1:10.0 Fuel injection 210 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 5400 Convert/Nm @ 3600 6.1 (Manual transmission) / 6.4 (Automatic transmission) 1996–2000
M5 V8 engine 32V 4941 94/89.0 1:11.0 Fuel injection 294 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 6600 Convert/Nm @ 3800 5.3 (Manual transmission) 1998–2003
520d Straight-4 16V 1951 88/84 1:19.0 Common rail Turbodiesel 100 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4000 Convert/Nm @ 1750 10.6 (Manual transmission) 2000–2003
525d Straight-6 24V 2497 80/82.8 1:17.5 Common rail Turbodiesel 120 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4000 Convert/Nm @ 2000 8.9 (Manual transmission) / 9.1 (Automatic transmission) 2000–2003
525td Straight-6 12V 2498 80/82.8 1:22.0 Indirect injection Turbodiesel 85 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4800 Convert/Nm @ 1900 11.9 (Manual transmission) 1997–2000
525tds Straight-6 12V 2498 80/82.8 1:22.0 Indirect injection Turbodiesel 105 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4600 Convert/Nm @ 2200 10.4 (Manual transmission) / 11.0 (Automatic transmission) 1996–2000
530d Straight-6 24V 2926 84/88 1:18.0 Common rail Turbodiesel 135 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4000 Convert/Nm @ 1750 8.0 (Manual transmission) / 8.4 (Automatic transmission) 1998–2000
530d Straight-6 24V 2926 84/88 1:18.0 Common rail Turbodiesel 142 kW (Convert/PS bhp) @ 4000 Convert/Nm @ 1750 7.8 (Manual transmission) / 8.0 (Automatic transmission) 2000–2003
Figures specified are for European sedan models.[8]

Changes by model year (US)

2000 BMW E39 540i Series


The 1996 model year 5 series E39 was introduced into the US market in late 1995. Models available were the 528i with a I6, and the 540i with a M62 V8.


In 1997 the E39 went through minor design changes. The on-board Computer, called the Multi-Information System (MID), was upgraded in mid '97.


In 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 Convert/ft.lbf of torque.

1998 BMW E39 540i Executive Sport Edition

The high-performance M5 sedan 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. Lower-body rear side airbags were standard on the M5, remaining optional for other models.


1999 saw the introduction of the Touring (station wagon) body style and joined sedans in both 6-cylinder and V8 editions. Added options for 1999 were brighter xenon headlights, Park Distance Control that warns of obstacles when backing up, and self-leveling rear suspension for wagons. Standard on V8 models and newly optional for 528i versions was BMW's Dynamic Stability Control, designed to aid control in fast turns.


In 2000, rain-sensing windshield wipers and xenon headlamps became standard on the 540i, and were newly available for 528i models. The "M Sport" package was added (replacing the standard sport package), and included the M Sport steering wheel, door sills, and shift knob. 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, BMW updated the E39 with newer, clear-lens tail, side marker, and headlights which first displayed the now-popular "angel eyes." Rear tail lights were changed to LEDs (Hella (company), 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 168 kW (225 hp) M54B30 3.0 L inline-6. A new entry-level 525i was introduced featuring a 137 kW (184 hp) M54B25 2.5 L I6 and a slightly lower price. The available navigation system was changed to a wide screen version.


Updated E39 sedan (US)

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


2003 marked the last 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 model 5-Series add a standard sunroof. The optional navigation systems upgraded from CD-ROM format (8 CDs to cover the entire USA and Canada) to single DVD-ROM. The optional sport package on the 540i carried parts from M-technic. This included a full M-tech ground effects, M-tech II suspension, 18 inch wheels, and a variety of M badging. The E39 wagon (touring / estate) was continued into the 2004 model year until the touring version of the new E60 5 Series was released.


  1. Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, vol.5. Stuttgart: Motorbuch. pp. 165. ISBN 3-613-02128-5.  and Auto Katalog, 2003 edition, p. 312; figures for 2002 to 2004: sales according to BMW Group Annual Reports 2002/2003/2004.
  2. "1996 BMW 528i". Red Book. Retrieved on 2007-09-08. 
  3. "1996 BMW 540i". Red Book. Retrieved on 2007-09-10. 
  4. Kenwright, Joe. "BMW E39 5-Series (1996-03)". Ninemsn. Retrieved on 2007-09-21. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Citation
  6. Wan, Mark. "BMW 5-Series (E39)". AutoZine. Retrieved on 2007-09-21. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Knowling, Michael (2006-02-02). "Bent-Eight Beemer". Web Publications Pty Limited. Retrieved on 2007-09-21. 
  8. "Autoweek Carbase for BMW 5-series" (in Dutch). Retrieved on 2007-08-07. 

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