The new F90 BMW M5 wasn’t the only highlight during our time at Autódromo do Estoril, as BMW Group Classic also brought out every generation of the nameplate prior to the latest one – E28, E34, E39, E60 and F10.

The story of the M5 starts in 1984, when the E28 was introduced to be the world’s fastest production sedan in the world at the time. It was powered by a 3.5 litre NA straight-six engine, which was derived from the mill used in the E26 M1.

With 286 hp and 340 Nm of torque, the M88/3 was paired with a Getrag 280 five-speed manual transmission and limited-slip differential. Models destined for the North American market came fitted with the lower emission S38B35, also a 3.5 litre unit with 260 hp and 329 Nm of torque.

While the E28 may be the first of the breed, it actually owes its place in history to the first-generation 5 Series (E12) in M535i guise. Considered to be the progenitor, there was never an M5 model for the E12, which is why the E28 got the badge first.

In 1988, BMW introduced the second-generation E34 M5, which continued with a straight-six engine. Designated the S38B36, it was an evolution of the motor found in the E28, with an increased stroke to bring the displacement up to 3.6 litres.

The engine was rated at 315 hp and 360 Nm of torque, mated to a Getrag 280 five-speed manual transmission, allowing it to hit 250 km/h. Later on, a 1992 update introduced E34 M5 to the larger S38B38 3.8 litre engine, with 340 hp and 400 Nm of torque.

A Touring version was also announced as part of the update, BMW M’s first wagon. This was followed up with a new Getrag 420G six-speed manual transmission for the E34 in 1994.

The third-generation E39 M5 arrived in 1998, powered by a significantly more powerful engine than its predecessors. Under the bonnet, you’ll find a 5.0 litre V8 with 400 hp and 500 Nm of torque, all of which is sent to the rear wheels via a Getrag 420G six-speed manual transmission.

Performance wise, the E39 M5 was capable of completing the century sprint in 5.3 seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Due to financial considerations at the time, a Touring version was never put into production for generation of the model.

With the E60 M5 (2005), BMW created the world’s first production sedan to feature a V10 petrol engine. The 5.0 litre naturally aspirated unit is not related to BMW’s regular production engines, and was inspired by BMW’s previous involvement in Formula 1.

The high-revving V10 generated 507 hp at 7,750 rpm and peak torque is 520 Nm at 6,100 rpm. It is coupled with BMW’s third-generation, single-clutch Sequential M Gearbox (SMG III), which comes with 11 Drivelogic shift mappings and a launch control function. Requests from North American customers saw BMW offer the ZF S6-53 six-speed manual transmission there.

Zero to 100 km/h took just 4.7 seconds, and the top speed remains limited at 250 km/h. However, an optional M Driver’s Package increases that figure to 305 km/h. The E60 M5 was also joined by a Touring version, designated the E61.

Debuting in 2011, the fifth-generation F10 M5 became the first in the series to benefit from turbocharging, specifically M TwinPower Turbo technology. Fitted with the S63B44T0 4.4 litre twin-turbo V8, it had 560 hp and 680 Nm of torque on tap, with drive going to the rear wheels via a seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M-DCT).

Like the E60, the F10 M5 in North America was also offered with a ZF S6-53 six-speed manual transmission there. The zero to 100 km/h sprint time is down to 4.3 seconds, while the unrestricted top speed is 315 km/h. A Competition Package for the F10 M5 was made available in 2013, bringing with it 575 hp and revised suspension.

There you have it, five generations of the M5 before the latest F90 came to be. The newest M5 boasts significant updates from its predecessors, including a more powerful engine in the form of the S63B44T4, a first-for-the-series M xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and ZF 8HP75 torque converter automatic. So, which one’s your favourite?