I’ve gone on record before, saying that I’m not a big fan of the E34-generation 5 Series. It’s a fine car and there’s really nothing objectively wrong with it but I was just never a fan of the way it looks. Having said that, I’d daily drive an E34 BMW M5 in a heartbeat because, well, M5. And compared with modern-day M5s, the E34-generation M5 must just feel so special. As we learn from this new video review from The Drive.
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During the F90 BMW M5 launch in Europe, BMW had some of its classic M5s on hand for journalists to test as well. That allowed them to get some perspective on what the M5 is supposed to feel like, where it’s been and where it’s going. One of the M5s on hand was a Daytona Violet E34 BMW M5 that, despite its bland, boxy shape (in my eyes, I know some enthusiasts love it), looks pretty fantastic. Mostly thanks to the color. And in this new video review, we get to see just why older M5s are so revered and so special.
Firstly, just look at it. Both inside and out, there are no frivolities, nothing superfluous. It’s just looks like a car and it’s so very refreshing to see in a day when cars are so wildly over-styled. As an example of what I’m talking about, the E34 BMW M5 was one of the fastest, highest-performing sedans on the planet in its time and it looks like a Plain-Jane sedan to anyone not in the know. Now though, the new Toyota Rav4, the epitome of bland, mindless and practical transportation, has so much styling it looks like Lamborghini designed it at the same time it did the Countach. So the simplicity of the E34 M5 is delightfully refreshing.
Then there’s the way it drives. Hydraulic steering and fixed suspension, without a billion customizable modes, allow it to drive so sweetly and purely that it makes you yearn for the old days. Sure, there’s a lot of play in the steering on-center, as the E34 probably had the worst steering of all 5 Series generations save for maybe the original E12, but it’s far, far more communicative and pure than anything you’ll find today.
The best part, though, is that engine. A 3.8 liter, naturally-aspirated straight-six, making 340 hp and revving to 7,000 rpm, it’s a glorious motor to ring out. It’s sonorous and characterful, without the need for artificial noise pumped through the speakers. And the power is created without turbochargers or electrification or anything additional aids, it’s pure, blue-blooded horsepower.
None of this is to say that the new F90-gen M5 is bad or worse than the E34. In fact, it might be the best M5 ever. It’s an astonishing car. However, there’s something to be said about driving an older, a purer and, ultimately, more engaging version. So basically what I’m trying to say is that if you can afford to buy a brand-new F90 M5, pick yourself up an old generation, too. Drive the F90 during the week, the classic one on the weekends and live happily ever after.