BMW Remembers Third-Gen E34 5-Series, You Should Too

Launched in February 1988, the E34 5-Series went on to be one of the most reliable cars ever built by BMW.

Unlike the E28 or the E12 that came before it, the E34 was completely new from the ground up. Not only did it feature excellent safety equipment such as airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, plus stability and traction control, but it was also stiffer and better at absorbing impact than any of its predecessors.

The E34 was designed with aerodynamics in mind, which is why it had an excellent drag coefficient of 0.30. That being said, you’d probably also realize the E34 was a whole different animal the second you sat behind the wheel.

Compared to older 5-Series models, it was larger and featured more high-quality materials throughout its cabin, though the styling of the cockpit was still driver-oriented.

Engine-wise, the E34 had plenty of versions for customers to choose from, starting with the 113 PS (111 HP) 518i and ending with the 286 PS (281 HP) 540i, as well as the 340 PS (335 HP) M5.

During its lifespan, the E34 5-Series was a direct rival to the Audi 100 (C4) as well as the Mercedes-Benz W124.


  • Salih Ahzem

    That E34 in that burgundy color simply looks stunning… Great car and unlike today’s BMW’s, it is a dependable one…

    • SteersUright

      Couldn’t agree more. Of all the cars i’ve owned, my 2010 335i M sport was by far the least reliable one ever. The amazing thing is, you have these intense fanboys who probably never owned one and every time I mention the issues I had with this car they seem to lose their minds. For me, a BMW product is entirely out of the question until they make serious strides in approaching Lexus-like quality and reliability we deserve considering the prices they demand.

  • Bob

    I owned a 1990 525i. It was a fantastic car. I just traded my 2012 650xi convert. It was a piece of sh*t. Times have changed for BMW.

    • Belthronding Tinuviel

      what was wrong with 650?

      • Bob

        Here are just a few of the reasons for multiple trips to the dealer in two years of ownership:
        1) Both seats were lose all the time, A design flaw discussed in most forums.
        2) The top leaked in severe downpours
        3) The run flats lasted less than 5K miles (admittedly, I had the m-sport package with low profiles, which I’m sure contributed) I went through two sets before getting standard tires and driving around with no spare.
        4) I live in Chicago, Whenever the temp dipped below 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) the intelligent battery sensor would start turning things off because it sensed the battery was low (a side effect of placing the battery in the trunk per the dealer who told me I needed to put a trickle charger on it and drive more miles. (The first thing it would turn off was the heater fan. (not the heated seats, the actual heat)) The dealer replaced the battery three times in less than two years to try and make me happy.
        5) The 2012 had the N63 V8. There’s a recall out there (they call it a customer service plan or something though) that I had done that cost (not me) $3300.00 to inspect and replace various engine parts and lower the service interval because of inherit problems with that engine. Part of the plan is incentives to trade the car (BMW wants the engines off the road because of the warranty claims.)
        6) At 40K miles the transfer case went bad and warranty repairs were over 5K (why I traded it)

        It saddens to me to leave the brand but I’ll never buy another one. (and I’ve had four) It was pretty much my dream car because I’d loved the six series all the way back to the 80s so you can imagine my disappointment..

        • Kagan
        • SteersUright

          Had the exact same experience. Always dreamt of a high performance BMW and then finally bought a pristine CPO 2010 335 M Sport, 5 years ago. It was literally in service every few months for different electronic and mechanical issues. Sure it was a beautiful looking car, but I think I spent as much time in the loaner 3 series sedan as I did in the actual car I bought (ok, exaggerating). Either way, BMW’s reluctance to fix many defective items (like an intake that kept popping off due to a design defect – see forums) led me to get rid of the car. When two friend I steered towards a brand new 2015 X5 and 2015 328 started having a bunch of issues with those as well it became clear mine wasn’t just some exceptional lemon and BMW has major quality control issues. No more new BMW’s for me until they seriously step up their game. They make Audi’s /VW’s and Fiats look reliable suddenly.

        • Belthronding Tinuviel

          sorry for your disappointment but you really had such a terrrible experiment with 650,hard to believe. but i can not understand that why that kind of unexpected quality problems are happening with 2012 MY 650i?
          thanks a lot for your explanation, it is like a guide for people who are looking for to have one..

  • fabri99

    Bring back those awesome colours NOW.

    • Six Thousand Times

      Too bad I can only upvote this once.

      • fabri99

        I’m so done with all cars being grey, silver or white…

  • trentbg

    Still my favorite 5 generation.

  • Six Thousand Times

    My favourite 5er.

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