VIDEO: Carwow drives the E34-gen BMW M5

BMW M5, Videos | January 23rd, 2018 by 16
BMW E34 M5 photos 05 830x553

Personally, I never liked the E34 BMW 5 Series. It always felt it was too boxy looking, its steering too floaty and its interior a …

Personally, I never liked the E34 BMW 5 Series. It always felt it was too boxy looking, its steering too floaty and its interior a bit too old-mannish. However, there’s something about the M5 variant that I like. Maybe it’s the lower stance, maybe it’s the bespoke BMW M engine or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s an ’80s/’90s BMW M car. BMWs, especially M cars, just aren’t made like they used to be. In this new video from Carwow, we see just why, with the E34 BMW M5.

First, Carwow’s Mat Watson shows us through some of the features the E34 M5 had that were state-of-the-art back in the day but seem positively ancient now. For instance, check out the little “infotainment” system, which can display trip information, temperature, mpg and various other vehicle info. Back then, this was great and I remember this unit specifically from my parents’ old E34s. Now, though, it seems like hieroglyphics carved into stone tablets, especially compared to BMW’s modern iDrive. Also, I sort of miss clamshell hoods, even if the E34 doesn’t have a true clamshell, it’s close enough.

BMW E34 M5 photos 32 830x553

We then get to see the back seat, which was uber-luxurious back in the day. Now, though, it almost seems boring without the myriad of touchscreens and LED lights of the modern 7 Series. However, the quality and materials are top-notch and bring us back to a time when automakers had to differentiate themselves with material and build quality, rather than just stuffing their cars with more gizmos than the other brand.

But where the E34 BMW M5 really starts to make a case for the old-school is when you get it on the road. The entire time he’s driving it, Watson can’t get the smile off of his face. Under the hood lies a 3.5 liter I6 engine that made 311 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. But it was real, blue-blooded horsepower, without any fancy turbos. It wasn’t low-tech, though. It had variable valve timing, individual throttle bodies and revved to 7,000 rpm. It also made a great noise.

BMW E34 M5 photos 15 830x553

That engine was mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and it looks like a blast to drive. Those long throws really make you work for each gear and remind you that you’re driving something old. It makes driving it an experience. While short, slick shifts are great in modern sports cars, there’s something truly lovely about driving an old manual and rowing those long-throw gears. Watson also seems to like the steering, which is slow by modern standards but provides a ton of feedback. There’s also a suppleness to the E34 BMW M5 that’s lacking in modern M cars.

Modern BMWs are excellent, with better performance, luxury and technology than ever before, obviously. But there’s just something so lovely about driving an older performance car like the E34 BMW M5. It really is true, they just don’t make ’em like they used to.

16 responses to “VIDEO: Carwow drives the E34-gen BMW M5”

  1. Roland Renno says:

    Good-bye to the glory sportive days of BMW, where true engine sound was the focus, not some cheap crackle in the exhaust like the M4.

    Well BMW today is not the same company of the past. Lots of things changed. The management spirit has been mixed with a blend of Korean DNA.

  2. Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

    Too boxy looks? What, you expected LED lights on E34 BMW? Dude, those are 90’s, cars then were much more different than they’re today. How dare you to say that you “PERSONALY DON’T LIKE E34 5 SERIES”? E34 M5 is last handbuilt M-car dude, how you can’t like that? Floaty steering? Rather that than new eletronic, “zero-feedback” steering in new M5. Too boxy? At least it looks much,much better than new super ugly X2. We can just say goodbye to the golden days of BMW, and say hello to new cheap-feeling, soulness and super ugly X2. At least new M2 and M3

    • I wasn’t aware that I’m not allowed to have a personal opinion on cars. I don’t like the E34’s looks, never have. It’s just too boxy and its design bores me. I actually happen to really like most boxy ’80s and ’90s German cars, including old Mercs, Audis and, of course, BMWs. Just not the E34. I did own an E36 and loved it and feel as if it’s far better looking than the E34.

      • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

        Wait, are you really Nico DeMattia? A guy that I’d normally tell that loves old Beemers? On BMWBlog you said that “you would rather drive E30 touring than new M3.” E30 is even more boxy than E34, and still looks gorgeous. I really don’t understand you. How you can’t like that mafia-like, classy design? I really get sick when somebody says that 90’s BMWs don’t look good. Even butthurt Audi fans like 90’s BMW design. And then you, “proper BMW enthusiast”, say that E34 looks too boxy. Worst quote I’ve ever heard.

        • I really enjoy how I’m not allowed to be an autonomous human being with my own taste :) I do like ’80s and ’90s boxy German cars, not only BMWs. But there’s charming and fun boxy and there’s dull and boring boxy. To me, the E34 is the latter.

          • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

            You can write whatever you want, and you are allowed to have your personal opinion, cuz, well, you are senior editor on BMWBlog. I just ignore those people who name themselves as “BMW enthusiasts”,and then they hate on a proper icon. You are the only guy I’ve ever heard to say that E34 is too boxy.

          • So I’m not a BMW enthusiast if I don’t like the E34’s styling? Well, take my Roundel badge away, then :)

          • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

            Let’s be honest, which BMW enthusiast doesn’t like E34s looks?(besides you) What, new X2 has better styling than E34?

          • Who said the X2 is better looking than the E34? Who said anything about the X2 at all? And I’m sure there are more BMW enthusiasts than just me that don’t like the E34. What is so upsetting about me not liking the E34? It’s a literal three-box sedan, it’s not as if I said the 507 is ugly.

          • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

            Then why are you talking about 507? Who said anything about 507 at all? Come’on Nico, are you really supporting new, Korean-looking X2 and disliking E34? Rename BMWBlog to HYUNDAIBlog.

          • I said it’s not as if I dogged the 507, lol. No one ever compared the E34 to the X2. But whatever, bud. I don’t like the E34. I also think The Godfather is boring, Tupac was overrated and Filet Mignon is blah. I guess I’m jus a heathen. :)

          • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

            I really am wasting my time with an idiot. Why the heck are you putting The Godfather in car conversation? Anyway, you don’t like E34, you like X2 for some reason, which is really odd, cuz many people name you as “proper BMW enthusiast”.

          • Indeed I am, sir. Thanks for the chat :)

          • Marcel Lukačić-Marca says:

            Proper BMW enthusiast that likes FWD X2. Nice combo.

  3. Greg says:

    The car in the video is actually a 3.8 liter as can be seen by the coil on plug cover and different valve cover in the engine shot. Great video.


  4. Greg says:

    Also no version of the S38 ever had variable valve timing, they had variable resonance in the intake manifold with the 3.6 having one switch over point controlled by a separate controller and later in the 3.8 two switch over points managed by the ECU.

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