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BMW M5 E39

Sedan version

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The BMW M5 E39 is the BMW M-developed version of the E39 5 Series sedan. It is powered by the S62 V8 engine, a high-performance development of the standard production M62 unit. It also features an M-tuned chassis as well as M-designed interior and exterior cosmetic items.

1998-2003 BMW M5 E39 Sedan
S62 B49 Kat
Fuel type
294kW | 400HP
Top Speed
250km/h | 155mph
Fuel Consumption (l/100km | mpg)
21.1 | 11.1
9.8 | 24.0
13.9 | 16.9


Source for technical specifications:

The E39 M5 was first introduced at the 1998 Geneva Motor Show though production did not begin until October of that year. Unlike both previous iterations of the M5 (which were hand-assembled at BMW M GmbH in Garching), the E39 M5 was produced on the normal E39 5 Series assembly line at the Dingolfing factory, outside of Munich.

Although an E39 M5 Touring was considered and at least one prototype was constructed (in Titanium Silver with a Black Exclusive leather interior), BMW M decided not to produce an E39 M5 Touring due to financial considerations.

Versions and Production Numbers

BMW M produced three versions of the E39 M5: Two European-specification models (left-hand drive and right-hand drive) and one North American-specification version.

  • ECE (LHD): 7,895 examples produced from 10/98 thru 06/03
  • ECE (RHD): 2,595 examples produced from 10/98 thru 06/03
  • NA (LHD): 9,992 examples produced from 09/99 thru 06/03

Though there were no major mechanical alterations to the E39 M5 during its entire production run, there were a number of equipment alterations that appeared with the 2001 model-year M5 (from 9/00 production). These include:

  • Revised headlight design incorporating illuminated "Angel Eye" rings
  • "Jeweled" tallight design
  • Park Distance Control sensors in the front bumper (previously in rear only)
  • Thicker three-spoke M steering wheel identical to the one fitted to the E46 M3
  • Grey instrument faces
  • Solar sensor for standard automatic climate control
  • Revised navigation/audio unit with larger (6.5-inch) monitor
  • Rear head protection airbags added
  • Second-generation M Mobility tire repair system in place of earlier version
  • Available M Audio System with special tweeters, Kevlar/carbon coaxial speakers and two subwoofers behind the rear console
  • Alcantara headliner included with Extended Leather interior (previously only included with Complete Leather)

For the subsequent two model years, changes were limited to the addition of new exterior colors (from 9/01 production) and the upgrade to a DVD-based navigation system (from 9/02 production).


Though based on the same basic architecture as the regular aluminum-block 4.4-liter M62 powerplant fitted to the E39 540i, the S62 V8 engine has been extensively modified by BMW M in the following areas:

  • Increased bore to 94mm (from 92mm) and increased stroke to 89mm (from 82.7mm) for a total displacement of 4,941cc (up from 4,398cc).
  • Increased compression to 11.0:1 (from 10.0:1)
  • Individual electronically-controlled throttle bodies for each cylinder with M Driving Dynamics two-stage control (via the "Sport" button)
  • Double VANOS continuously-variable valve timing on both the intake and exhaust strokes
  • Siemens MSS 52 Motronic digital engine control system
  • Three-layer steel head gaskets
  • Dual air induction system
  • Modified cylinder heads
  • Hollow camshafts
  • High-capacity water pump
  • Duplex chain drive for the intake cams
  • Oil-cooled pistons unique to each cylinder bank
  • G-force-sensitive lubrication system with two scavenging pumps, one for each cylinder bank
  • Coolant to oil heat exchanger for engine cooling
  • Free-flow exhaust with dual catalytic converters and four exhaust tips
The S62 engine produces 400 hp (DIN) or 394 hp (SAE) at 6,600 rpm and 369 lb/ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. It is easily identified by its large central cam cover that carries the "M" logo and is further inscribed with "BMW M Power" against an artificial carbon fiber background.


All E39 M5s are equipped with a Getrag Type D six-speed manual gerabox with the following ratios: 4.23 (1), 2.53 (2), 1.67 (3), 1.23 (4), 1.00 (5), 0.83 (6). Though this same gearbox (and ratios) was also offered in the E39 540i, the E39 M5 drivetrain has three unique components: The clutch is reinfoced to cope with the added torque of the S62 powerplant and the rear differential utilizes a shorter 3.15:1 ratio and features a limited slip device (25 percent maximum locking).

Electronic Stability Control

The BMW E39 M5 was the first M Series automobile to feature BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) which incorporates the Automatic Stability Control (ASC) traction control system but can also apply braking force to any wheel in order to help correct for understeer or oversteer. The system can be de-activated via a console-mounted button.

European version vs. North American version

Aside from minor mechanical differences required to meet specific safety and emission regulatons in each market (such as positioning the exhaust catalysts closer to the engine on North American-spec models), E39 M5 is essentially the same worldwide. One notable excpetion is the exclusion of the European-spec M5's two-piece front brake rotors on the North American model.

We can also find minor differences in lighting and instrumentation mandated by the different markets, all E39 M5s sold worldwide are essentially the same in terms of appearance.


The suspension of the E39 M5 shares its basic aluminum-intensive MacPherson strut/multi-link design with that of the V8-powered E39 5 Series models but incorporates several specific changes from BMW M:

  • Specific spring rates with reduced spring height (0.9-inches shorter than standard E39 springs, 0.1-inches shorter than M-Technic E39 springs)
  • Specific shock valving
  • Thicker anti-roll bars front and rear
  • Polyurethane auxiliary springs in place of rubber units
  • Steel balljoints in place of rubber rear suspension bushings

Steering system

Like all V8-powered E39 5 Series models, the E39 M5 is equipped with a recirculating-ball steering system. However, the overall steering ratio has been reduced to 14.7:1 from 17.9:1. In addition, the E39 M5 features Servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power assist that provides two levels of resistance controlled via the console-mounted M Driving Dynamics button (informally known as the "Sport" button).


The E39 M5 is equipped with four-wheel vented disc brakes measuring 13.6-inches in diameter in front and 12.9-inches in diameter in the rear. On European-specification models, the front rotors are of a "floating" two-piece design for better heat dissipation. ABS is standard.

Wheels and tires

All E39 M5s are fitted exclusively with 18-inch M Parallel Spoke II cast alloy wheels featuring a Satin Chrome finish. These wheels, which measure 8x18-inch (front) and 9.5x18-inch (rear) and wear staggered 245/40ZR18 (front) and 275/35ZR18 (rear) tires, are specific to the E39 M5.



The E39 M5 is equipped with several unique exterior cosmetic items that distinguish it from other 5 Series models. The front fascia features an enlarged grille with wider chrome trim around the "kidneys" as well as a unique M-Technic airdam with mesh over the central intake. The rear of the E39 M5 can be distingished by a small body-color lip spoiler (deletable upon request) as well as a unique rear bumper and lower diffuser that incorporates two pairs of dual exhaust outlets. There are also M-designed rear-view mirrors (which fold up electrically), the unique 18-inch M Parallel Spoke II alloy wheels and three "M5" badges that adorn the exterior of the car, one on each of the side mouldings and a third on the trunk lid. Most E39 M5s were equipped with high-gloss Shadowline (black) window trim though the chrome trim from the standard E39 could be specified as a no-cost alternative in most markets. All E39 M5s have clear turn signal lenses.


Though the interior of the E39 M5 shares its basic design and architecture with that of the standard E39 5 Series, it is distinguished by several unique items. All E39 M5s are equipped with power and heated M sport seats with adjustable lumbar support and a three-position memory on the driver's seat.Two distinct upholstery and trim styles were offered: "Sport" and "Exclusive" (later renamed "Luxury" for the North American market). The Sport interior was offered in the following combinations: Alcantara upholstery and door panels with Nappa leather bolsters and aluminum-look interior trim (not available for the U.S market), Nappa Point leather upholstery and door panels with Nappa leather bolsters and aluminum-look interior trim or Nappa Point leather upholstery and door trim with Nappa leather bolsters and Bruyere Club wood interior trim. The Exclusive interior included pleated Nappa Heritage leather upholstery and door trim with Bruyere Club wood interior trim or pleated Nappa Heritage leather upholstery and door trim with Burl Walnut wood interior trim. In addition, any of these interiors could be trimmed in either Extended Leather (leather on the door pulls, door armrests, center console, center armrest and sun visors) or Complete Leather (leather on the door pulls, door armrests, door panels, center console, center armrest, sun visors, dashboard, glovebox door, upper door trims and lower B-pillar plus Alcantara on the headliner, A-pillar, upper B-pillar, C-pillar and rear parcel shelf), depending on the market and production date.

Two different airbag-equipped three-spoke M steering wheel designs were offered in the E39 M5, both with M tri-color stitching on the rim and buttons for the audio system and cruise control on the upper spokes. The early version (thru 8/00) resembles the wheel offered in the some E36 3 Series, E38 7 Series and E39 5 Series models but is smaller in diameter (375mm versus 385mm). The later version (from 9/00) is identical to the wheel used in the E46 M3 and features a different spoke design and a thicker rim.

Also unique to the E39 M5 are special instruments featuring aluminum bezels, red needles, a 300 kph/180 mph speedometer incorporating the M logo, an oil temperature gauge under the tachometer in place of the usual economy meter and a an LED variable redline that extinguishes as the engine reaches normal operating temperature. Gray gauge faces were introduced for the 2001 model year (from 9/00 production).

Finally, the E39 M5 is equipped with an M footrest for the driver, an oval-shaped auto-dimming M rear-view mirror (not fitted to early production models), special door sill plates featuring the "M5" logo and an illuminated M shift knob also incorporating the "M" logo (made of either leather and aluminum-look trim, Bruyere Club wood or Burl Walnut wood).


Unlike the previous two iterations of the M5, the E39 M5 was very well equipped in all markets and included most of the available E39 features as standard equipment including Xenon headlights, headlight washers, power and heated front seats with three-position memory for the driver, power tilt and telescoping steering column, automatic climate control, cruise control, extended on-board computer and a premium audio system. Options for the E39 M5 varied from market to market but generally included various types of leather upholstery and wood trim, power moonroof (standard in North America), on-board navigation (standard in North America), Park Distance Control, power rear sunshade (not available with Complete Leather trim), M Audio System (from 9/00), split-folding rear seats and rear side airbags (standard in North America from 9/02).

Special factory editions

BMW M never produced any official factory special editions of the E39 M5.


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