Possibly the most beloved generation of 5 Series is the E39. With its simple looks, old-school BMW driving dynamics and pure steering, the E39 is still considered by many enthusiasts to be the best generation of 5 Series yet. However, not many enthusiasts remember its interior, when reminiscing about the E39 5er. Top Gear does, though, and actually considers the E39’s cabin to be one of the best classic car interiors.
In this new list, TG puts the E39 BMW 5 Series among the top nine (why nine?) best classic car interiors. “A simpler time. A time before iDrive. A time when BMW basically perfected sporty exec saloon design. It’s just so wonderfully gimmick-free.” said TG.
While I don’t disagree with anything said in TG’s little blurb about the E39, my choice would have actually gone to another BMW of that era — the E38 BMW 7 Series. As it’s essentially the same design, just with richer materials. Still, the E39 5er is a great choice and one that really does encapsulate what was great about BMW interiors of that era.
It’s simple, elegant, understated and incredibly well built. There’s just a wonderfully refreshing lack of complexity to it, with no screens or menus to flip through. It’s just an interior; a steering wheel, easy-to-read gauges and some buttons for the radio. That’s it.
Sure, modern BMW interiors are lovely; filled with rich materials, the best tech in the business and still surprisingly elegant designs; but they just don’t have the mind-easing simplicity that they once had. Of course, that’s not possible anymore, as modern-day customers want tech and screens, so the Bavarians are forgiven for adding complexity. However, it’s still nice to look back on older interiors and remember how nice it was without all of today’s gimmickry. The E39 BMW 5 Series is the perfect example of that.