In less than a month, BMW will unwrap the eighth generation of the 5 Series, making for 52 years of 5s. In addition to the choices of internal combustion or plug-in hybrid propulsion, the new 2024 G60 chassis will also have an all-electric option, marking the first i5 model. The i5 is expected to come in two flavors initially: the 335-horsepower rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 and the 590-horsepower all-wheel-drive M60 xDrive. This new “i” sedan will fit in nicely between the existing i4 and i7 offerings.Only weeks away from the world premiere, final testing of the new 5 Series is still underway. BMW reports, “the development process for the first-ever BMW i5 is entering the home stretch with the fine tuning of its suspension control and driver assistance systems.” This comes after over a year of strenuous testing across a variety of environments, including the temperature and road-condition extremes of winter and summer climates, at BMWs test facilities across the world. As with every new generation of vehicle, the G60 has quite a few new tricks up its wheel arches and BMW has shared a few of those ahead of the official release. First up, BMW’s ninth-generation of Vertical Dynamics Management. BMW says, “This technology is based on a newly developed, extensively networked control logic, and factors in all the available input variables–such as wheel speeds, steering angle, yaw rate and acceleration–to establish the ideal damping forces.” The goal being for the new 5 Series, regardless of power plant (and subsequent weight), to provide the luxurious ride of a larger 7 Series and the spryness of a smaller 3 Series, depending on what the driving situation calls for.
Approaching Minority Report levels of vehicle system control, the optional Driving Assistance Professional Package includes Highway Assistant. This takes the existing hands-free driving to the next level, allowing for Active Lane Change with eye activation. How does it work? “An interior camera monitors the driver’s level of alertness. In suitable situations, the system offers a lane change, which can be accepted by the driver. Looking in the side mirror initiates the lane change process and carries out the necessary steering movements. The purely visual action complements the use of the turn signal lever, which is also available as an alternative,” BMW says. Just don’t get distr—SQUIRREL!—acted.While we look forward to learning more detailed specs and cutting-edge technological advancements of the forthcoming G60 5 Series, I took a look back at the previous seven generations of 5s. The first 5 Series (E12) ran from 1972 to 1981, coming with four and six-cylinder engines. During a pleasant 5-Series-fueled YouTube distraction and came across the famous chase scene from Ronin (1998), which primarily features an E34 M5, but also gives us a peek at its E12 predecessor after a near head-on collision. The second generation of 5 Series (1981-1988) brought the E28 chassis and the first M5. This happens to be my favorite 5 Series body and E28 owner Tom Kapikian would probably agree with me, owning both a 535iS and an Alpina B7 Turbo. (Kapikian’s E28s can be seen in the Spring 2023 issue of BimmerLife magazine.)
The third-generation E34 5 Series ran from 1998 to 1996 and introduced both the wagon body style and the V8 engine to the model. As previously mentioned, who could forget the great E34 M5 chase scene in Ronin? With a proper manual transmission and an S38 engine screaming under the hood, Natascha McElhone’s character expertly piloted the passenger-laden sports sedan through the streets of Paris. Whew!
The E39 marked the fourth generation of 5 Series, with model years spanning 1995 to 2004. Body styles included sedan and wagon, and marked the first V8-powered M5. For those who follow M539 Restorations, the E39 is a favorite of the channel’s star and creator, Sreten Milisavljevic.
The fifth-generation E60 introduced controversial styling due to what many called the “Bangle Butt”. It was sold from 2003 to 2010 and introduced the first V10-powered M5. While the E60 M5 was only offered with an automatic transmission elsewhere, the U.S. received a special and highly sought after manual-transmission option.
The F10 chassis rang in the sixth 5 Series overhaul, and was produced from 2010 to 2017. A variety of new drivetrains were available in the F10, including a hybrid power plant and a new twin-turbo V8 for the M5. A “Gran Turismo” body style was introduced, but was discontinued after just a single generation.
The current-generation G30 has run from 2017 to present and introduced us to the wonderful M5 CS. It also built upon the hybrid offering of the F10 chassis, introducing a plug-in hybrid model. As we’ll see by the end of the month, the all-electric i5 will take things another step further towards BMW’s sustainability and electric powertrain goals.
The upcoming G60 brings many new possibilities, including the rumor of an M5 Touring—yes, that’s right, a wagon!—coming to U.S. shores. Stay tuned as more information becomes available over the next few weeks, leading up to the world premiere of the eighth-generation 5 Series! —Mike Bevels