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BMW 5 Series

E60 5 Series

BMW logo1 Oct 2003

By THE GOAUTO TEAM

IT was all-change for the E60 5 Series, one of the most controversially styled cars of this decade – and the personal favourite from BMW’s design head Chris Bangle.

Progression also occurred below the skin, with an all-aluminium chassis, aluminium/steel body construction, advanced kinetics suspension, six-speed automatic gearboxes and Active Steering – which alters the ratio depending on speed – standard on all Australian-delivered E60s.

The 525i sedan returned, using a 141kW/245Nm 2.5-litre variable-valve timing in-line six-cylinder engine, followed by the 530i’s 170kW/300Nm version.

In the V8 E60s there was the 545i, featuring a 245kW/460Nm 4.4-litre unit. This arrived in early ’04.

But BMW didn’t keep these engines running for too long in the E60, introducing an all-new in-line six-cylinder Valvetronic range in the 525i (160kW/250Nm) and 530i (190kW/300Nm), along with a raft of minor trim changes.

Meanwhile the V8s were also overhauled (new 540i: 225kW/390Nm, new 550i: 270kW/490Nm from a 4.8), while Australian 5 Series buyers could finally buy a turbo-diesel sedan from late ’05 in the 160kW/480Nm 3.0-litre 530d.

And the M5 returned to the range in June ’05, this time powered by an all-new 5.0-litre V10 engine producing 373kW and 520Nm, and driving the rear wheels via a seven-speed sequential SMG gearbox.

A facelift from June 2007 made the cost of getting into a 5 Series almost $10,000 cheaper with the introduction of a new 523i entry-level model while prices for the rest of the range increased only marginally (about 0.4 per cent, or between $400 and $1000), despite significant equipment upgrades.

Onto the standard equipment list came variable-ratio active steering system that BMW claims gives it a competitive advantage with sporty response at low speeds combined with extra high-speed stability.

The 523i came with essentially the same specifications as the 525i, losing metallic paint and having 16-inch rather than 17-inch alloy wheels. It was powered by the same 2.5-litre straight-six engine – though in slightly detuned form, with 140kW of power and 230Nm of torque compared with 160kW/250Nm for the 525i.

Across the range, the standard six-speed Steptronic auto (with new X5-style selector) was updated with a new torque converter, resulting in 40 per cent faster changes, better performance and slightly improved fuel economy.

The 3.0-litre engine for the volume-selling 530i sedan and wagon models gained an extra 10kW of power (to 200kW) and 15Nm of torque (to 315Nm).

Exterior changes to the 5 Series included clear-glass Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daylight running lights, revised lower air intake with built-in foglights, rear tail-lights with LED indicators, a revised rear number plate panel and new alloy wheels.

The controversial iDrive system was improved with new graphics and the adoption of the eight favourites buttons (first seen in the X5 and 3 Series convertible).

The standard cruise control system received a brake function that helps maintain vehicle speed on long downhill gradients.

The four-cylinder turbo-diesel 520d arrived in late 2007.

Not only was it the cheapest 5 Series available at $79,900 – coming in $5000 below the similarly-equipped 523i – but it is some $35,000 less than the only diesel model previously available, the six-cylinder 530d.

Sharing its all-alloy turbo-diesel engine with the 120d and 320d as well as the X3 2.0d SUV, the 520d produces 125kW of power at 4000rpm and 340Nm of torque from 1750 to 4000rpm.

With a standard six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, the 520d accelerates from rest to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds – 1.5 seconds slower than the bigger-engined 530d.

However, it uses only 6.1 litres of fuel per 100km compared with the 530d’s official figure of 7.5L/100km.

The 520d is also the only E60 5 Series not to offer active steering as standard.

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