Whether a car looks good or not is subjective, especially when the car in question is a wagon that has been designed to maximize load-lugging ability, not its aesthetic qualities. However, there are so many fans of long-roof cars (including yours truly) that how good a wagon looks is an important topic, and with the recent unveiling of the G61 touring, it’s a good time to look back at all the 5 Series Touring models and rank them by their looks.
The long-roof 5 Series is one of those wagons with a big fan base thanks to its blend of legendary BMW driving dynamics and engines, practicality, and, of course, looks. However, even though the basic formula has largely stayed the same, the look of the 5 Series Touring has changed quite dramatically over the generations.
The latest model, the G61, is the biggest 5 Series wagon ever, and it’s the first to be available with a fully electric powertrain. But even if it had no badges on it, the car would be instantly recognizable. I don’t think it’s the most eye-catching model in the lineage, though, so here is my ranking of the best-looking 5 Series Touring generations. Keep in mind that this is my opinion, and you probably won’t agree with my order, but we encourage you to leave us a comment telling us how you would rank them.
6. E34 Touring
The original 5 wagon arrived in 1992, almost four years after the E34 5 Series sedan debuted, but for this era, the three-box model looked so good that it made the long-roof version look a bit cumbersome. It’s a good-looking thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s my least favorite 5 Touring with its belt line that just rises a bit too much for my taste toward the rear of the car.
What makes it special, though, is the fact that it also came in M5 guise and powered the sonorous S38 six-cylinder that made it one of the fastest wagons you could buy in the early 1990s. The E34 Touring looks its best as an M5, with its aggressive bumpers and side skirts as well as its unique wheels. Only 891 examples of the E34 M5 Touring were built, so if you see one, consider yourself lucky. When I saw one in the Performance Parking section of the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years back, it made my day, even though it was surrounded by much more expensive motors.
The BMW F11 entered production at the same time as the F10 sedan in 2010, and it’s one of the 5 Series wagons that seems to be aging the best. It has quite subdued styling that makes it one of the most understated such models ever, which is great if all you want to do is blend in, carry lots of cargo in the back, and enjoy BMW handling. If it doesn’t have the M pack and some of the sportier-looking wheels, it can look a bit boring, and this is exaggerated by the fact that all the ones I see on the road seem to be either black or silver.
BMW never made an M5 version of the F11, although M5 wagon fans with a penchant for this generation 5 Series have made one-offs. This is also one of the reasons I didn’t rank it very highly on this list.
The G31 is, like the F11, quite restrained and understated if it doesn’t have the M pack and big wheels. Introduced in 2016, it’s based on the G30 5 Series, which, to my eyes, has always had serious 7 Series vibes—it looked bigger and more luxurious than any previous 5—and this also defined the wagon version in my eyes. One thing I’m not particularly keen on with the G31 is its rear overhang, which from some angles just seems a bit unnaturally long, and this makes the vehicle’s overall proportions not as great as some other 5 wagons.
The M pack and bigger wheels help it look better, and this is my only point of criticism for what is otherwise a very handsome long-roof 5. BMW never made an F91 M5, which the renderings suggest would have looked fantastic, and we don’t know of any custom F91 projects created by fans of the brand.
The latest 5 load-lugger doesn’t look great from all angles, but it does have plenty of visual merit, especially when viewed from a rear and rear three-quarter perspective. Just like the G60 sedan, I think it looks a bit too tall and ungainly, although the G61’s long-roof design hides some of the extra height and makes the vehicle look more elegant. The rear is quite successful in my book, with its thin and wide rear lights accentuating its bulging flanks, whose wheel arches have to be filled by big wheels to keep it looking good.
This model gets a bad mark for the fact that it’s the first 5 Touring that doesn’t feature a separately opening rear glass section of the rear hatch, so you have to open it fully every time you have something to place there. There will be an M5, the G99, which we’ve seen as a camouflaged prototype for now, but we can already tell it looks really good, with even more muscular flanks all around and more aggressive details and wheels.
Even though the E60 5 Series was seen as quite controversial when it was introduced in 2003, over the years, the perception of its design has changed greatly. Today, both the E60 sedan and the E61 wagon are appreciated for their design, which has aged well, certainly better than some other BMW designs from the Chris Bangle era.
The E61 wagon looks even better than the sedan in my book, with its strong character line that connects the headlight with the taillight and gives the vehicle a lot of presence. The E61 M5 is the best-looking model. With its unique front and rear bumpers, wider fenders, and special M wheels, I think it is one of the most desirable wagons ever made by any manufacturer.
The E39 is regarded by many as being the best 5 Series ever made, and I would also argue it’s also the best-looking generation. This applies to both the three-box and long-roof models, and the latter strikes a great balance between looking like a practical car with a cavernous trunk and a sporty wagon that enthusiasts would love.
The E39 Touring is the quintessential 5 Series wagon, and even though BMW never made an M5 variant, there are plenty of custom projects out there where fans transplanted the M5’s engine and mechanical components into a wagon body. It’s probably one of the most common M5 wagon conversions, and it goes to show just how much love this generation 5 Series still gets today.