In the latest of BMW’s recent series of videos documenting the history of the 5 Series throughout each generation, we take a look at likely the most controversial of all 5 Series models — the fifth generation (E60) BMW 5 Series.
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Designed by Chris Bangle, the E60 5er was the most radically different looking 5 Series in the model’s history. It featured a sort of “flame surfacing”, as Bangle called it, and had curvy headlights with “eyebrows”. The rear decklid was large, flat and pronounced, which took away the muscular rear end look of previous generations. It was also the longest and widest 5er by a large margin. Its styling is still controversial today, with many BMW fans still hating it. However, BMW knew that it had to make a drastic change at some point and it took a shot.
On the inside, BMW also ditched its driver-focuses cockpit and went with a more passenger-friendly approach. This had to do with the brand’s newest version of iDrive at the time and wanted both front passengers to be able to use it with ease. So, instead of the driver-oriented dashboards of the past, the E60’s dash was more open and accessible to passengers.
In terms of driving dynamics, the E60 impressed far more than it did with its looks. While most fans still hate the way it looks, inside and out, it’s hard to argue its dynamics. Its steering was sharp and it was light on its feet. This was mostly because of the fact that, despite growing in size quite a bit over its E39 predecessor, it actually wasn’t much heavier. With a lightweight aluminum front end, the E60 had a perfect 50/50 weight distribution, front/rear.
The E60 was also packed with a ton of new technology. It had active steering, which varied the steering ratio based on speed, so low-speed maneuvers were easier and high-speed stability was increased. While it was effective, the active steering was mostly hated by BMW enthusiasts for its odd feel and lack of precision. However, one feature that was pretty universally loved was the Head Up Display. BMW introduced a HUD to the 5 Series for the first time and it was one of BMW’s most successful options, in terms of resale. Over 90 percent of customers who bought the E60 with the HUD bought a future BMW with it.
Overall, the E60-generation 5 Series is one of the most controversial BMWs in the brand’s history. Love it or hate it, it made a huge impact on the brand.