E60 Five Series


The E60 replaced the E39 five series in 2002. Initially only the saloon was available, the touring and M5 saloon came out in 2003. Unlike older models the touring was called an E61 rather than E60, the new E90 five series continued this trend with E91/92/93 models for the non-saloon variants.

In terms of styling the E60 was quite radical, a major departure from the E39. It was not well received by many commentators. The headlights were compared to Dame Edna's glasses and the boot lid was known as the "Bangle Butt". One item missing from the E60 are rubbing strips along the sides and as bumper inserts. I'm sure this feature will make BMW body shops very happy but to me it seems a victory of form over function.

BMW also made great play of the shark fin antenna for the navigation system, a feature first seen on the E46 M3. Many E60s seem to be silver or grey, this is due to the range of colours offered by BMW. There are few bright or vibrant colours available, unless you pay extra to BMW Individual for a custom delivery.

The new five had a very minimalist interior, which was not driver focused as on older models. This was facilitated by a second generation of BMW's Idrive, a computer which replaced most of the buttons for Audi, navigation, heating and such. Idrive is something you either love or loath. It has a screen in the middle of the dashboard and a controller next to the gear lever. It can control almost all of the car's electrical functions and is a powerful tool for those familiar with it, but it does take a bit of getting used to. Personally I find the screen annoying, especially at night. I can't understand why the controller wasn't replaced by a touch screen, that would seem a lot simpler to control.

BMW E60 M5

M5, can be spotted by quad exhausts and sidegrilles.


E60 saloon with "Dame Edna" headlights.

BMW E60 530d

530d saloon, one of the most popular models in the UK.

BMW E61 530d touring

E61 530d touring, a powerful and versatile load carrier.

Models & Engines.

The E34 525tds started a great tradition of diesel BMW fives. The E39 continued the trend but in the E60 we were to see even greater heights of achievement. The E60 was available as a 520d (M47, the only four cylinder E60), 525d/530d (M57) or as an incredible twin turbo 535d with 413 lb/ft of torque. These engines accounted for a very high proportion of UK and european sales but were never available in North America due to the inferior nature of US diesel and it's marketing image there. These new engines combined power with exceptional torque and economy. After market chipping can give even more power and it widely available.

Early petrol E60s used the excellent M54 2.2 / 2.5 / 3.0 engines. But these were soon replaced by the N52 six and N62 V8. These engines used BMWs Valvetronic system, pioneered on the E46 three series in four cylinder engines. Valvetronic did away with the conventional throttle butterfly and accelerator cable (although even in 1989 the M30 with traction control had a "fly by wire" throttle). Instead an electric motor and idler shaft were used to adjust valve lift. This gave a much less restrictive intake path which resulted in more power, better throttle response and improved economy. Valvetronic was a huge achievement for BMW. It was not used on the M5 as conventional designs work better at very high rpm. The six cylinder BMW Valvetronic 3.0 engine is a sheer work of art.The 550i is also worth a mention here, it's 4.8 litre N62 V8 makes for a very fast five indeed.

The E60 M5 was quite something. It used Formula One technology to create a S85 V10 five litre engine with 507bhp coupled to a seven speed SMG gearbox. In normal use the car had 400bhp, but by pressing the //M button on the steering wheel the full 507 were unleashed. In addition the //M button and Idrive could be used to control the electronic differential, suspension, throttle response and other performance factors.

The E60 introduced BMW's Active Steering assistance. A planetary gearbox (as used in an automatic gearbox) and electric motor were used to give a different number of turns lock-to-lock in town driving and high speed motoring.

BMW made a variety of transmissions available for the E60. Smaller engined cars came with a five speed manual, a six speed was available for more powerful models. Automatic gearboxes came in five and six speed flavours. Steptronic gave the auto gearstick a +/- up/down shifting option designed to replicate formula one style shifting and the operation of the SMG gearbox. But basically this was just an electronic interface to the gearbox and changes were much slower than with a true SMG.

BMW had introduced SMG (Sequential Manual Gearbox) on the E36 M3. It was OK for track use but less so for road and particularly town work. It had an "automatic" mode but in practice didn't work well unless driven as a manual with the driver selecting the gears, as the engineers had no doubt intended! For the E46 M3 a much improved SMG box was designed. The driver could select the speed (or violence!) of the gear change depending on conditions and a launch mode was available. An all new seven speed variant of this was designed for the formidable V10 powered M5. For US customers only a six speed "normal" manual M5 was available to satisfy popular demand.

Permanent four wheel drive models were available in Europe and north America, but sadly not in the UK.

Model Body styles Engine Weight
Power / Weight
(bhp / 1000kg)
Final drive ratio
(manual / auto)
size f/r mm
520i Saloon M54 (2.2) 1560 109 3.38:1 (auto 3.73:1) Disc/Disc ABS
310 / 320
523i Saloon / Touring N52(2.5) 1575 111 3.23:1 (auto 3.73:1) Disc/Disc ABS
310 / 320
525i / xi Saloon / Touring M54 / N52 1585 M54 121
N52 136
M54 3.15:1 (auto 3.73:1)
N52 3.38:1 (auto 3.91:1)
Disc/Disc ABS
310 / 320
528i / xi
(USA only)
Saloon N52 3.0 detuned 1590 147 3.38:1 (auto 3.91:1) Disc/Disc ABS
324 / 320
530i / xi Saloon / Touring M54 / N52 1605 M52 144
N52 170
M54 2.93 (auto 3.46:1)
N52 3.23:1 (auto 3.64:1)
Disc/Disc ABS
324 / 320
535i / xi Saloon / Touring N54 turbo 1660 184 ? Disc/Disc ABS
540i Saloon N62 1725 177 3.08:1 (auto 3.38:1) Disc/Disc ABS
348 / 345
545i Saloon / Touring N62 1705 187 2.93:1 (auto 3.38:1) Disc/Disc ABS
348 / 345
550i Saloon / Touring N62 1735 207 2.93:1 (auto 3.38:1) Disc/Disc ABS
348 / 345
520d Saloon / Touring M47N 1585 86 2.64:1 (auto 3.23:1) Disc/Disc ABS
310 / 320
525d Saloon / Touring M57N 1655 103 2.56:1 (auto 2.65:1) Disc/Disc ABS
310 / 320
530d / xd Saloon / Touring M57N / N2 1665 110 2.47:1 Disc/Disc ABS
348 / 320
535d Saloon / Touring M57T30 1735 157 2.56:1 Disc/Disc ABS
348 / 345
M5 Saloon / Touring S85 1830 277 3.62 Disc/Disc ABS
374 / 370


See the engine details page for power figures. Where several body styles exist or the engine was changed during the model's life the figures above are for late model saloons.


For the early six cylinder cars see M54 engine problems.

For the later six cylinder cars see N52 engine problems.

For the V8s see N62 engine problems.

For the M5 see S85 engine problems.

For the diesels see M47 / M57 engine problems.