The BMW 540 belongs to the fifth generation (designated as E39) of BMW’s 5 Series—a line of executive, mid-size luxury cars that has been in production from 1972 up to the present. 5 Series is considered as the second-best selling model produced by the brand next to its 3 Series—which has been produced from 1975 up to today. Vehicles under the 5 Series, just like the 540, are sold in sedan and station wagon body styles, and they are equipped with powerful engines. Here’s a quick look at the BMW 540 and its changing features through the years.
5 Series comes to the U.S.
In 1997, 5 Series vehicles finally reached American shores in two forms—the BMW 528 and 540. Both models were equipped with side airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and power steering. The 528 was powered by an upgraded 2.8 L M52 inline six engine, which could churn out up to 190 hp while the 540 was powered by a 4.4 L M62B44 V8 engine could produce up to 282 hp. In terms of transmission, the 528 was furnished with a ZF S5-31 five-speed close-ration manual transmission and it was also available in an optional A4S 310 R four-speed automatic or A5S310Z five-speed Steptronic transmission system. The 540, on the other hand, was made available with either a Getrag six-speed manual or a five-speed A5S 560Z automatic transmission that had an adaptive transmission control feature.
Body design and engineering
E39 cars were generally known for having an aerodynamic body design. In fact, the 540 had a 0.31 drag coefficient, all thanks to the company’s use of computer-aided engineering. BMW also employed laser welding techniques for its E39 models, and this ensured rigid bonding throughout the entire car’s body.
When the 540 arrived in the United States, it was initially powered by a 4.4 L M62B44 V8 engine, which it shared with an earlier E34 5 Series model. The only difference was, the 540‘s engine featured upgraded electronics and it also employed new material for the cylinder block. However, in 1998, the 540 was furnished with an upgraded M62TUB44 engine—the same engine that powered the BMW E38 7 Series and X5. This engine featured BMW’s VANOS system, which was a continuous variable timing mechanism, used to improve the low end torque and fuel economy of a car. It was also equipped with an electronic throttle control, and it could churn out up to 290 hp.
Major changes in the 540 occurred in separate years. For instance, on its first year of production, its Multi-information system or on-board computer was upgraded in the middle of the year. The following year in 1998, a Sport Package and automatic transmission option was also made available for the model. In 2000, the model was equipped with rain-sensing windshield wipers and xenon headlights. And in 2002, it was furnished with an upgraded V8 engine without having any changes in its torque.