My move from Canada to Germany in 2007 required me to terminate the lease on my 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix. The Pontiac was a nice enough car, for North American roads anyway, but it would have not been a good car for German roads, the autobahn at least. I was so looking forward to buying a BMW, I did not mind to pay a bit to re-lease the Pontiac.
I spent a couple of weeks researching BMWs before departing NA, so I was prepared when I arrived. I truly wanted to purchase a 1996 540i, as I am allowed to take back to NA a 15 year old car without NA specs. As I was starting work soon, time was a factor, so I ended up with a 1997 520i with 112K, planning on taking my time to find the perfect car and trading in the 97 model.
From the start I loved the handling; it corners fantastic and the brakes seem very good. I drive daily on the Autobahn and usually cruise around 160 kph, often I am at 180 kph, occasionally if the weather is nice and the road is dry I have had it up to 210 kph. I think there might be another 10kph left in her, but it is getting very close to red line. Speed does not seem to bother the car at all, there is no noticeable difference in performance after cruising long periods at 160kph or better.
The only thing I have had to replace on this car so far is the air filter. I had a problem with lag, the car seemed to have little power until past the 4,000 rpm mark, so I replaced the air filter and ran some fuel injector cleaner through the engine, which seemed to help a bit. But I think I will just have to face the fact that 150 bhp and 140 ft/lb of torque is not enough for the size of this car. The stereo is not very good, it has no CD player and 6 cassette stereo (who has cassette's anymore?). I am looking now to upgrade to a 530i or 540i.
Would I buy another BMW? Based on the short time I have owned my current model, yes I would. What strikes me especially about the vehicle is lack of body roll, and for a relatively big car it corners very nicely. I have had a couple of braking emergencies, and the ABS works wonderfully and the car stops well. I just wish it had more power!