My 2001 2.2 SE manual is fantastic to drive, the handling and ride balance is better than anything else I have ever driven.
It's fun on country roads and roundabouts, mainly because of the well weighted steering and tight body control. The ride is close to perfect (especially considering the 235/45/17 tyres) without being wallowy or soft and when you factor in the superb level of road and wind noise suppression, you end up with, what I think, is one of the most refined cars you can buy at any price.
It gets even better when you get to the powertrain, the 2.2 litre (170bhp) engine they fit in the facelifted 5-series is superb and it never, ever feels like the budget entry level option. It is very quiet and buttery smooth all the way to the redline and the sound it makes is a rather exotic six cylinder gurgle.
It's not fast, but for a car this heavy it really does shift, especially on the motorway in fifth gear. I love the exterior looks and the interior is very attractive with plastics of a very high quality.
Downsides - it is quite thirsty, I get 32-33mpg on the motorway, but any town work drags the average down to 26mpg. Even though the materials are great and the car is rattle free, many of the unseen components seem to be poor quality - the most recent component failures are the radiator and the steering column lock.
Overall, I adore this car and I am prepared to accept the quality deficiencies and additional costs in return for the superstar driving qua
I like it so much that my next car will be the 525SE (a little bit more acceleration!! )
My car has the manual gearbox which to be honest I feel is better than the auto as the fuel economy is much better; I get an average of 41.5mpg.
The car drives very well indeed with great in-gear accaleration. The handling and balance are both excellent on all types of road. My car eats up the miles with supreme ease and on the motorway both road and wind noise are minimal. The engine sounds very similar to the petrol 6 with the exception of the very low revs/tickover when you can notice some minor diesel rattle, otherwise an excellent engine.
My experience with my local dealer has been a very good one. They collect and deliver the car from my house when it's in for a service and always valet the car. The car has been totally reliable to date. The ownership experience is excellent with only a few minor gripes which are the rear seats don't fold down, the rear seat accommodation could be bigger and the wipers are set for LHD.
Overall the best car I have owned by miles and I'd strongly recommend buying an E39 5-series, especially the latest revision (post Sept 2000) with angel eyes etc. Possibly the best used car bargain around and the best car in the world for the money!
This is my fourth E39 5-series and most certainly the best.
The Sport pack adds to the already excellent qualities of the standard spec cars to give a more dynamic driving experience combined with subtle sporting visual styling cues kindly borrowed from the mighty M5.
There is or course a slight loss in ride quality and refinement with the sport model due to the firmer suspension settings. But this is acceptable given the sportier driving qualities on offer, not that the standard car doesn't give a sporting ride - far from it.
The straight six engines are as sweet as any engine currently produced and matched with a the super smooth stepronic box (optional) it makes for effortless swift progress. If you're in the mood you can spice things up further by using the sport mode or even control the cogs yourself just like a BTTC driver - although in reality you'll find you very rarely use the manual shift.
Given the performance and its size and weight, economy isn't too bad, expect to get 25+ in day-to-day driving and about 30mpg on a motorway run and unlike some high power cars (RX 8 drivers will tell you!!) using the right pedal in a spirited way won't see see those returns dip sub 20mpg.
As ever, my only gripe with BMW is the service of the main dealers. Experience tells me that the OTT service rates are simply not justified.
There is no better exec saloon out there and I include the current Bangle remake of the 5 in that statement too.
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owned for 3 years Pro engine, performance, size, looks Cons Service cost (BMW in general), folding rear seats is an option - annoying, no spare…
Even after 8 months I still look forward to driving this car. The handling is superb, the 8 speed gearbox a dream. There is a bit of lag when you…