BMW 5 Series (96 - 04) Owner reviews

No longer on sale

I have a 2003 3.0l petrol auto with 232,000 miles on the clock! I have owned this car for 6 years and I still absolutely love it. This car has active steering which is beautiful when getting in and out of tight spots, great spec car, had to change the active steering pump which I managed to find a used one, with these miles putting a Β£1,000+ unit on from BMW just would not have been viable. I have had several faults and still have some ongoing problems but considering the extremely high mileage and the fact I purchased this car with 160,000 miles on it, it has never let me down. I have had faulty seat map sensors, replaced 3 times! Oil leaks, gaskets that didn't love the mileage. I changed the transmission fluid at 170,000 miles and although I get the odd minor jolt when the car changes gear, she has not let me down yet. I would just like to add a recent scare and bit of advice to anyone with an auto box. My transmission failure light came on a week ago, box went into limp mode and clunked terribly changing from park to drive/drive to reverse. I thought this would be the end for my car with this mileage as a new box would be more than she is worth now. I was researching online and read several posts relating to transmission faults that strongly advised replacing the battery or alternator. Very pleased to say new battery replacement has sorted this fault out and I have since driven over 200 miles with no trans fault! Fingers crossed this girl keeps going as I love her to bits.

Natasha Daguiar, December 17th 2014

i SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG29 mpg

I owned the BMW 520D MSport for a month and I'm really impressed overall. Positives: Composed ride, very refined and quiet for long journeys Excellent build quality Spacious and well equipped Excellent fuel economy (45-55 mpg) Excellent equipment levels Excellent handling-(m sport)only Strong pull and torque when needed Go for steptronic gearbox for the best of both worlds I-Drive is good when you used to it Negatives: Standard stereo is quite poor, no bass in front speakers Car feels heavy at times Not very economical around town, but thats expected Avoid N47 engine (timing chain issues)or have warranty- Go for M47 engine if possible Ditch run flats and get standard tyres fitted A great car and the best I've owned, the best options are the USB interface and DAB Radio (2 key upgrades). Upgrade stereo if you like your music. Avoid 525D not worth the extra insurance, tax and Diesel and you can't go wrong. If you can find a good M Sport it's worth the wait because it drives better and handles better than the SE, holds its value well and looks better than the standard shape which is dull.

Simon Mignott, West Midlands, November 14th 2014

d M Sport 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG42.2 mpg

One thing I didn't reckon on when I bought my M5 earlier this year was the number of admirers. Whether waiting at lights, on the motorway or parked, it always gets looked at. The brave usually comment on the size of the brake discs, which because of the 21" M Sport 525 wheel option, show them off and they are indeed large. I was perhaps under the misapprehension that the car was a little understated, alas not. Purists will claim this car isn't quite what the E60 M5 was. Having owned both now, the F10 is crushingly better. Firstly, fuel consumption, driven hard the car averages above 18mpg, driven progressively about 22-24, driven like a vicar on a Sunday drive; 28mpg. The previous generation, regardless of driving style averaged 12mpg. The interior on the F10 is more luxurious and with plenty more technology. The gearbox crushes the E60's awful SMG box. Even driven in auto, the car responds to slow town driving as well as it does to a more aggressive overtaking manoeuvre. The only area the E60 has the upper hand is the engine note and noise. The F10 is a civilised car, it needs to be prodded to become noisy and aggressive, whereas the E60 was always noisy. The F10 can sound superb. When driven correctly and with the sport mode activated, the baffles in the exhaust open and the whole car can reverberated with the engine note. Finally, hugely fast, forget the 4.4 official, this can easily achieve a 3.7 0-60. A simply fantastic car.

Chris Laythorpe, June 27th 2014

4dr DCT

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG24 mpg

After moving to the dark side having spent the last three years in the fabulous Jaguar XF 3LDiesel S, I compared the new 535 DM Sport with the Jag. The BMW won for its technical wizardry and its overall user experience. The engine is immense and with the Eco mode you can drive very sensibly and get a good MPG. Go up to Sport mode and the responsive eight-gears and 311 BHP show you what its capable of. The Professional sat nav is superb with the iDrive along with the M Sport plus package that give you a stunning sound system.

Philip Donetti, May 10th 2014

d M Sport 4dr Step Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG39 mpg

After moving to the dark side having spent the last three years in the fabulous Jaguar XF 3LDiesel S, I compared the new 535 DM Sport with the Jag. The BMW won for its technical wizardry and its overall user experience. The engine is immense and with the Eco mode you can drive very sensibly and get a good MPG. Go up to Sport mode and the responsive eight-gears and 311 BHP show you what its capable of. The Professional sat nav is superb with the iDrive along with the M Sport plus package that give you a stunning sound system.

Philip Donetti, May 10th 2014

d M Sport 4dr Step Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG39 mpg

I am a company car driver and took delivery of my 520d SE manual back in May 2011. To date I have covered over 95,000 miles with a real mixture of Motorway, City and Countryside driving. When I was looking to order my 5 series I read lots of reviews that all talked about the importance of specifying VDC as an option - sadly as a company car driver I wasn't able to specify it, but I still decided to place my order as I struggled to believe BMW would sell a 5 Series that handled as badly as the reviews would have you believe? I am pleased to say that having spent nearly 3 years and many hours in the driving seat I have never found the handling and steering to be anything other than brilliant. It is fair to say that I can't compare this to a 5 series fitted with the VDC option, but I guess you don't miss what you've never had? If you are currently considering a 5 series but either don't have the option or don't want to spend the extra Β£'s specifying VDC, I really don't believe you will be disappointed with the handling of your new 5 series. In terms of reliability my car has been fantastic, with the only extra expense from the normal servicing being new brake discs required at 65,000 and a new scuff plate on the driver's door as the original silver detailing had become detached (replaced under warranty). The best complement I can give my first experience of driving a BWM 5 series is to say I have just ordered a new one! (520d Auto - just because I fancied a change - no VDC)

RICHARD WHITE, Cardiff, February 16th 2014

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG43 mpg

I am a company car driver and took delivery of my 520d SE manual back in May 2011. To date I have covered over 95,000 miles with a real mixture of Motorway, City and Countryside driving. When I was looking to order my 5 series I read lots of reviews that all talked about the importance of specifying VDC as an option - sadly as a company car driver I wasn't able to specify it, but I still decided to place my order as I struggled to believe BMW would sell a 5 Series that handled as badly as the reviews would have you believe? I am pleased to say that having spent nearly 3 years and many hours in the driving seat I have never found the handling and steering to be anything other than brilliant. It is fair to say that I can't compare this to a 5 series fitted with the VDC option, but I guess you don't miss what you've never had? If you are currently considering a 5 series but either don't have the option or don't want to spend the extra Β£'s specifying VDC, I really don't believe you will be disappointed with the handling of your new 5 series. In terms of reliability my car has been fantastic, with the only extra expense from the normal servicing being new brake discs required at 65,000 and a new scuff plate on the driver's door as the original silver detailing had become detached (replaced under warranty). The best complement I can give my first experience of driving a BWM 5 series is to say I have just ordered a new one! (520d Auto - just because I fancied a change - no VDC)

RICHARD WHITE, Cardiff, February 16th 2014

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG43 mpg

I must be the only one who disagrees with VDC option as it is not necessary and expensive. If you want sharp handling then buy an M Sport version and that will handle superbly. I went for an SE because it gives an excellent balance, sharp drive with comfort. I have owned only BMW cars for the last 22 years and love the way this one is made. Its very well screwed together together with its high quality material. The seats are very comfortable and the controls are logical and easy to use. Its also quiet on the road with very little noise. The engine is flexible and economical for this size of car and the superb 8 speed auto box makes the car a joy to drive in town or on the motorway. Eco plus mode really works well to give you outstanding economy, close to 60 mpg and when I am in the right mood I press the sport button and get the best out of the car, its a BMW after all! However the mpg drops substantially. My local BMW dealer(Broad Oak Ashford)were professional and helpful made the process of owning one very easy indeed.

Khaled Zureiqi, Kent, November 18th 2013

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG51.7 mpg

I must be the only one who disagrees with VDC option as it is not necessary and expensive. If you want sharp handling then buy an M Sport version and that will handle superbly. I went for an SE because it gives an excellent balance, sharp drive with comfort. I have owned only BMW cars for the last 22 years and love the way this one is made. Its very well screwed together together with its high quality material. The seats are very comfortable and the controls are logical and easy to use. Its also quiet on the road with very little noise. The engine is flexible and economical for this size of car and the superb 8 speed auto box makes the car a joy to drive in town or on the motorway. Eco plus mode really works well to give you outstanding economy, close to 60 mpg and when I am in the right mood I press the sport button and get the best out of the car, its a BMW after all! However the mpg drops substantially. My local BMW dealer(Broad Oak Ashford)were professional and helpful made the process of owning one very easy indeed.

Khaled Zureiqi, Kent, November 18th 2013

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG51.7 mpg

The car is a July 2011 model 520d SE 2.0d with 8 speed auto, and Business Media SatNav. This is my 1st BMW and is the best long distance touring car I have owned. 400 mile trips are dispatched with ease, leaving me stress free and without stiff joints. It has plenty of power for overtaking when needed, and cruises quietly with little fuss on motorways and A roads. I find the ride and handling on the standard 17" wheels with run flat Pirelli tyres absolutely fine, and the car is composed and well balanced through corners. The steering felt a little fiercely self centering to start with, but with the correct tyre pressures it improved noticeably. It can get caught out sometime on motorways if there is a sharp change in camber in a bend, but nothing serious. Fuel economy for such a large car is excellent. Long term ave is 48 mpg and it is easy to get over 50 mpg on a decent run. Loaded up with luggage a 500 kms run through France saw 53 mpg, and I drive responsibly briskly. That gives a tank range of 700 plus miles or 1,200kms. Even around the suburbs I still see mid 40's. All controls and instruments work well with little fuss. I love how I can check a destination on Google maps on my PC then send the coordinates to the SatNav to be used as a destination. My only minor grumble is that the auto lights and wipers sensors need a bit of fine tuning as they don't always work the way you want. The boot is big but not as well shaped as my last A6. So far no faults at all. Gre

Tim Banks, August 13th 2013

d SE 4dr Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG47.9 mpg

I just took delivery of a 520d SE to replace my previous early model 525d F10 - 6 cyl - and am delighted with the change. Because I've specified VDC this time round the car is totally transformed. It now handles and rides like a proper beemer, and I can confirm that the reviews are right - this option is essential. I was lucky to hit 40 mpg on my daily commute previously, but now in Eco Pro mode (not an option previously) I'm seeing a heroic 55 mpg +!. That's almost 40% better. Performance wise there's not much in it, just a more relaxed feel which you soon adapt to. Finally, I'm getting a dealer fit option shortly too (it can't be fitted at the factory) namely the M Performance pack. This includes a bigger intercooler and revised mapping. This will bring engine output, nominally, up to my previous 6 cyl car (c 200 bhp), but delivers the same Co and MPG as a regular 520d, and thus in the same low tax band too. I see it as getting a 525d for far less money. Worth considering I think, I'll let you know what it's like..

Roland Grant, Middx, July 2nd 2013

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG45 mpg

I just took delivery of a 520d SE to replace my previous early model 525d F10 - 6 cyl - and am delighted with the change. Because I've specified VDC this time round the car is totally transformed. It now handles and rides like a proper beemer, and I can confirm that the reviews are right - this option is essential. I was lucky to hit 40 mpg on my daily commute previously, but now in Eco Pro mode (not an option previously) I'm seeing a heroic 55 mpg +!. That's almost 40% better. Performance wise there's not much in it, just a more relaxed feel which you soon adapt to. Finally, I'm getting a dealer fit option shortly too (it can't be fitted at the factory) namely the M Performance pack. This includes a bigger intercooler and revised mapping. This will bring engine output, nominally, up to my previous 6 cyl car (c 200 bhp), but delivers the same Co and MPG as a regular 520d, and thus in the same low tax band too. I see it as getting a 525d for far less money. Worth considering I think, I'll let you know what it's like..

Roland Grant, Middx, July 2nd 2013

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG45 mpg

I've had this car for 8 months now which was a replacement to my previous 525d. The performance is much better than the previous one particularly with additional sport functionality. When you set it up to Sport, it turns into a different car but you have to be car not to be carried away with its acceleration and speed. Mine used to be a manager's one with only 4000 miles on the clock, hence has all the extras but not the camera. Inside is luxury with all the relevant gadgets (Β£17000 worth extra). The drive is smooth despite having 19" wheels. The tax rate is only Β£132 which is cheaper to run than my other ford focus 1.6 engine. All around it is an executive car with M Sport function whenever you need that extra acceleration on A roads.

Ardeshir Geranpayeh, June 3rd 2013

d M Sport 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG38 mpg

I'm now 2 months into my 535d ownership and it has been a delightful experience so far. Having previously run a 3 series coupe on 19 inch wheels and bone jarring first generation run flats, I specified my car with more sensible 18 inch alloys and SE suspension with variable damping, determined to get a comfortable ride. This is certainly what I've got, and whilst the car is pretty big and a bit nose heavy with that big engine up front, it is immensely comfortable and wonderfully refined. I tend to leave the VDC in comfort plus which is fine for most situations, whilst sport is great for a B road blast. Of course you don't choose the 535d just to cruise around and I have to say that the engine is epic. It handles pretty well but it's wise to get it in a straight line before flooring the throttle or you'll be watching the traction control light blinking in anything but bone dry conditions. Drive it with some sympathy for the weight and forces involved and this car is immensely quick, whilst the acceleration and straight six noise are both addictive. Real world mpg is high 30s rather than the claimed 50, which is just about possible if you try really hard, but you did get a 535d to drive it like that.....

Marc Saunders, December 11th 2012

d Luxury 4dr Step Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG38 mpg

I'm now 2 months into my 535d ownership and it has been a delightful experience so far. Having previously run a 3 series coupe on 19 inch wheels and bone jarring first generation run flats, I specified my car with more sensible 18 inch alloys and SE suspension with variable damping, determined to get a comfortable ride. This is certainly what I've got, and whilst the car is pretty big and a bit nose heavy with that big engine up front, it is immensely comfortable and wonderfully refined. I tend to leave the VDC in comfort plus which is fine for most situations, whilst sport is great for a B road blast. Of course you don't choose the 535d just to cruise around and I have to say that the engine is epic. It handles pretty well but it's wise to get it in a straight line before flooring the throttle or you'll be watching the traction control light blinking in anything but bone dry conditions. Drive it with some sympathy for the weight and forces involved and this car is immensely quick, whilst the acceleration and straight six noise are both addictive. Real world mpg is high 30s rather than the claimed 50, which is just about possible if you try really hard, but you did get a 535d to drive it like that.....

Marc Saunders, December 11th 2012

d [313] SE 4dr Step Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG38 mpg

520d SE with Sport auto box. Have a few extras on car but have listed the ones that transform this car first. Read the reviews carefully, the press are right VDC transforms this car into what it should be. VDC adds comfort plus which allows you to glide over the most horrible of road surfaces, even my kids who are normally too busy on their phones commented how they couldn't feel the speed bumps anymore. Sport plus which firms dampers to make the car feel closer to M sport suspension hold the car superbly round the twisty bits. If you are buying one of these for driver enjoyment you MUST spec this, its pricey but worth it. Also AVOID the 19" wheels, they destroy the ride, I have 18s as 17s look just a bit dweedy on such a big slab sided body. Think carefully about a manual on these cars, in my opinion the 8 speed step auto box is just a joy and suits character of car, manuals should be left on the 3 series. Other options I added were folding mirrors (car is wide), split rear seats (COME ON BMW these should be standard) sport seats (dont need lumber). Nav with business media and also the professional stereo, as standard is weak oh and Β£300 for DAB! (all options are pricey). If I had more budget would have gone for xenons as headlamps not great. So great car but the standard car compared to one with the right extras are very different vehicles, be prepared to cough up!

Max Halliwell, --Please Select--, October 2nd 2012

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG41 mpg

520d SE with Sport auto box. Have a few extras on car but have listed the ones that transform this car first. Read the reviews carefully, the press are right VDC transforms this car into what it should be. VDC adds comfort plus which allows you to glide over the most horrible of road surfaces, even my kids who are normally too busy on their phones commented how they couldn't feel the speed bumps anymore. Sport plus which firms dampers to make the car feel closer to M sport suspension hold the car superbly round the twisty bits. If you are buying one of these for driver enjoyment you MUST spec this, its pricey but worth it. Also AVOID the 19" wheels, they destroy the ride, I have 18s as 17s look just a bit dweedy on such a big slab sided body. Think carefully about a manual on these cars, in my opinion the 8 speed step auto box is just a joy and suits character of car, manuals should be left on the 3 series. Other options I added were folding mirrors (car is wide), split rear seats (COME ON BMW these should be standard) sport seats (dont need lumber). Nav with business media and also the professional stereo, as standard is weak oh and Β£300 for DAB! (all options are pricey). If I had more budget would have gone for xenons as headlamps not great. So great car but the standard car compared to one with the right extras are very different vehicles, be prepared to cough up!

Max Halliwell, --Please Select--, October 2nd 2012

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG41 mpg

owned for 3 years Pro engine, performance, size, looks Cons Service cost (BMW in general), folding rear seats is an option - annoying, no spare wheel Fantastic car, does wheel spins at 80mph in the rain, goes straight to 155mph limit and never drops below 36 mpg superb driving dynamics, forget a 530d, get a 535d. Ditching the runflats and replacing with proper tyres is a must.

martin lumsden, September 19th 2012

d M Sport 4dr Auto

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG35.3 mpg

The car looks great, the interior is nice and the toys are good. The iDrive works well as do most of the electronics. My car is an 525 SE (3.0) with softer suspension than the sport but despite this the ride is awful and there is no feel in the steering. I have 19" alloys with runflats which look good but make the car very unpleasant to drive / ride in. Any small potholes and road bumps cause the car to shudder, loose traction and make an awful noise, it skids easily in the wet and tramlines on motorways. My last bmw was an E39 535 se and it drove beautifully, this new car is hopeless in comparison. Running costs are OK and I average 37 mpg which isnt bad for a car of this size.

David Thorne, United kingdom of great britain, June 4th 2012

i SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict2/5
  • What it's like to drive1/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

The 5 series looks and is very special. The body is beautiful from any angle and the interior exudes class. On the move the cabin is quiet and very comfortable (if lumbar support is added) and the driving position perfect. Steering and ride are beyond praise and I am at a loss to understand why VDC is considered by yourselves to be worthwhile. The engine and 8 speed auto provide high performance in all circumstances and it is hard to believe that any practical advantage could be gained by having a larger engine. I travel aminly on country A roads and I find overtaking effortless. The choice of colours is poor (mainly greys and blacks) but I looked behind the off-putting "Milano Beige" to find a delightful pale gold. The choice of extras is enormous. Beyond the obvious auto and satnav I recommend the reversing camera as it it is impossible to see the boot. I considered the Headup display for navigation but the basic satnav gives a direction diagram in the instrument cluster and this does much the same job. This is my 7th BMW and I expect reliability to be (as usual) total.For all these cars I can recall only one fault that required fixing under warranty. The sales experience was first class: Matt Barnes of Chandlers secured the sale by lending me a demonstrator for a day. I had decided the 5 series was too big for my needs but that was overcome by the driving experience. The new car arrived within 5 weeks.

Richard Bramwell, March 20th 2012

d SE 4dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG44 mpg