One of the most controversial BMW designs in the last twenty years, if not ever, was the E60 5 Series. Penned by Davide Arcangeli, under the guidance of BMW former chief of design, Chris Bangle, the E60 5 Series introduced the “flame surfacing” design technique. Upon its debut, the 5 Series design received mixed reviews, something relatively new to BMW. With unnatural, sharp cut lines, “Dame Edna” head lamps, and a bit of a heavy-looking rump, the E60 5 Series, 5th in the 5 Series lineage, proved a new style direction was possible both inside and out.

Gone were the soft curves and angles of the E39 Series, replaced by sharp edges, angular lights and a muscular look. The aesthetic imbalance replaced conservative design lines and rationality was replaced by willful expressiveness. The biggest factor was its distinctiveness in the BMW family at the time, something that many customers are missing today.

Many were shocked to see the still-new iDrive system as a standard feature along with options such as Active Steering and the Head-Up Display finding their way to the 5 for the first time. While the exterior was turning the design world on its ear, the technological innovation of the new 5 Series was doing the same to the expected technologies on the inside and under the skin.

With rear-wheel-drive standard, the E60 also provided the first U.S. market 5 Series platform that was available with BMW’s patented “xi” designation for its all-wheel-drive system. To power both two and four wheels, the E60 had nothing but the best to offer with drive trains such as the potent N52 3.0L and later the N54 3.0L twin-turbo under the 535i designation. Much of the rest of the world outside of the United States had access to the lovely, uber efficient diesel engines that the American market has so long been denied.

Despite being launched in 2003, the E60 5er looks almost as fresh as one of the newest bimmers. In fact, some find it hard to believe that this is a 14 year old car. The E60 5 Series also inspired one of the best looking and sporty M5 models of all time, the E60 M5.

While in Portugal testing the seventh-generation 5 Series, we also spent some time admiring the design lines of the E60 5 Series, as illustrated in the photoshoot below.