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E39 M5 Summary
What is an E39 M5?
Unlike its predecessors, the E39 M5 was not handbuilt at the BMW M GmbH factory; it was produced on the same assembly line as the normal E39 5-series at the Dingolfing factory in Germany. In fact the E39 M5 was almost not built at all; BMW believed that the 286 bhp 540i was powerful enough, but when Jaguar released the XJR (320 hp) and Mercedes-Benz introduced the W210 E55, which had over 350 bhp (354 hp), BMW responded to the competition with a 394 bhp (294 kW) M5.
Introduced in 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show, production did not begin until late October of that year. A total of 20,482 E39 M5s were made from 1999 to 2003. BMW M produced three versions of the E39 M5, the European LHD and RHD versions and the North American specification version.
The E39 M5 had a highly tuned V8 engine based on the M62 engine called the S62, which displaced 4.9 L and produced 400 PS (395 hp/294 kW). The engine featured a 7000 rpm redline, Double-VANOS, which varies the intake and exhaust valves for both cylinder banks, and individual throttle butterflies for each of the cylinders, allowing for a much faster engine response time.
All E39 M5s were equipped with a Getrag Type D six-speed manual transmission which provided the following gearing ratios:
First gear: 4.23 Second gear: 2.54 Third gear: 1.62 Fourth gear: 1.23 Fifth gear: 1.00 Sixth gear: 0.83 It is the same transmission used in the E39 540i but some changes were made to cope with the extra power the S62 engine produced. A reinforced clutch, rear differential utilizing a shorter 3.15:1 ratio and a limited slip differential with 25% maximum locking.
The E39 M5 suspension shared its basic aluminium-intensive MacPherson strut/multi-link design of the V8 E39 5 series. However, several changes were made by BMW M. Reduced spring height, 0.9 inch (23 mm) lower. A specific shock valving, thicker front and rear anti-roll bars, polyurethane auxiliary springs and steel balljoints.
Like all V8-powered E39 models, the E39 M5 was equipped with a recirculating-ball steering system. Overall steering ratio was reduced to 14.7 from 17.9 it featured a servotronic vehicle-speed-sensitive power assist that provides two levels of resistance controlled via console mounted Sport button. The Sport button also adjusted the electronic throttle butterflies for faster throttle response. The E39 M5 is equipped with four-wheel vented disc brakes measuring 13.6" in diameter in front and 12.9" in diameter in the rear. On European-specification models, the rotors are of a "floating" two-piece design for reduced risk of cone distortion. Their lower unsprung weight improves ride quality and traction on bumpy surfaces as well. Anti-lock brakes were standard.
During its 5 years in production, there were some cosmetic changes, these include:
Revised headlight design incorporating illuminated "Angel Eye" rings Jeweled Celis tail light 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 panel Improved 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).
The E39 M5 is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 5.3 seconds, although many reviewers claim to have achieved this under 5 seconds. It is electronically limited to a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h), making it the fastest 4-door sedan in the world at the time it was manufactured. Once delimited, top speeds of a true 189mph are possible.
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.