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So many good things have been written about the BMW 5 Series - it is rightly recognised as the best in it's class. I've owned two (523 & 528) and plan to move to a 540 in the next 6 months - so be assured that I am a huge fan. But objectivity is crucial - if you're thinking of buying one - here's some ownership points to be aware of: 1) I would not buy new. My current 528 SE is heavily loaded with extras - to the point of having a new list price of £42,000. Today at 2 years old with 30,000 miles I have been offered £19,500 trade in!! Rock solid resales no longer apply. 2) Servicing - surprisingly cheap and I have to say very professional (well done Prophets in Solihull). But - watch out for the extras. Both my cars seem to have a tendancy to lose their tracking. To fix this costs over £140. 3) Engine noise - can be a bit obtrusive - but they'll tell you it's designed that way to give driver feedback. 4) Safety - A1. The guy who ran into the back of mine in a Renault Megane was taken to hospital. I drove away!! Overall - a fantastic car and better than anything I've tried in it's class (S Type = crap auto box, Merc = dull, dull, dull). But don't expect a complete silence inside the cabin, as many will in this class of car. That engine feedback (as BMW call it) is noticeable.
So my beloved brother has driven my car a few times but clearly doesn't have quite the required sophistication to enjoy it to it the full. As comfortable as a sofa - yes, but the handling characteristics of the 5 Series are certainly not soft-furnishing like. True, it doesn't handle like a sports car but then that's to be expected - it's a saloon. The engine is as smooth as you would expect from a 2.8 litre 6 cylinder. When in economy mode the kick down is a little slow in responding but in sports (or steptronic manual) the pick up is sharp. There are few vehicles which are as relaxing to drive as the 528. Long drives home from meetings on a Friday evenings are far less stressful in this than any other car I've driven. There are some minor down sides. The stereo is a disgrace. BMW has no excuse in fitting what seems to be a £50 unit to a car costing in excess of £30K. While the electric memory seats and steering wheel are a constant source of amusements to many (particularly my brother), they do solve the problem of spending a week trying to find a comfortable position after someone else has driven the car. However, the local dealer is unable to explain why the steering wheel has a mind of its own and chooses when it will return to its correct position automatically. Overall though I find it hard to fault this cr.
My brother has one of these and i've driven it a few times. There's no doubt that it is a superbly engineered and built car with a great reputation backed up by substantial sales. This car is so easy to drive it almost makes you want to fall asleep. You never actually feel like you have to do anything, it's all done for you, right down to the electronic movement of the seats and sterring column. However, I want more from a car and I like to feel like i'm in contact with the road. In this car I don't get that feedback. It feels too floppy. The steering wheel is godawful to hold and there's no way you'd get any sports driving out of this car. Also, the engine is a little too gruff when pushed hard and the performance from the almost 3 litre engine is not as sharp as it should be and certainly not smooth enough for a six cylinder engine. But, if you want a luxury car to transport you in comfort then you can't go wrong. Just make sure that you specify a stereo upgrade because the standard one is the worst i've ever heard and for a £35K car this is something that's a poor effort.