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BMW 5 Series Generation E39

The BMW E39 is the fourth generation of BMW 5 Series, which was sold from 1995 to 2003. 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 December 2003.

The proportion of chassis components using aluminium significantly increased for the E39, and it was the first 5 Series to use aluminium components in the front suspension. 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, being fitted to the E39 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 for the E34’s successor began in 1989, 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.

In May 1995 BMW published the first official photos of the E39. The E39 premiered in September 1995 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In December 1995 sales of sedan models began on the European mainland. Production of wagon/estate models began in November 1996.

BMW 5 Series E39 Model Line

At launch, the petrol engines consisted of the M52 straight-six and M62 V8, which were both new engines at the time. In 1998, the “technical update” (TU) versions of these engines were introduced, which introduced double VANOS to increase torque at low rpm. At the 2000 facelift (LCI), the M52 straight-six engine was replaced by its successor the M54, however the M62TU remained in use for the V8 models. The M54B30 (in the E46 330i and E39 530i) topped the Ward’s 10 Best Engines list in 2002 and 2003.

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.

BMW 5 E39 Articles
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A “latent heat accumulator” was available as an option up until September 1999. The accumulator stores engine heat by converting a salt from a solid to a liquid form (Phase transition). 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.

Separate to the latent heat accumulator is the Residual Heat function (activated by a button labelled “REST”), 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.

Standard equipment on the launch models included dual front and side airbags, pretentioners and load limiters for the front seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, traction control, power steering, and air conditioning. Satellite navigation was also available, initially using maps on CD, then moving to DVD maps in 2002.

Chassis and body

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. Due to a stiffer body shell, the weight of the chassis increased by 10 kg (22 lb), which is offset by the reduced weight of some aluminium suspension components.

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.

BMW 5 Series E39 Specs
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