2002 BMW 5 Series E39 520i ES SE M Sport 2.2 petrol straight six


One of the world's great cars, purchased for buttons!


Cruise control not working.

General Comments:

My previous 520 was written off by a clumsy Waberer's lorry driver. I was gutted as it was a mint low mileage dream to own.

I am very happy to report that I have found another in amazing condition with very low mileage to buy with the insurance money!

This is a runout edition with a lot of extras included, such as M sport ride, wheels, steering wheel, gearbox etc, and a lot of SE kit like climate control, adjustable seats and a multi CD player.

As a result it drives and rides more firmly than my previous E39, but is still amazingly comfortable. It looks and feels like a one year old car rather than a thirteen year old one.

Very much anticipating putting many happy miles on this beauty, this time avoiding Waberer's trucks!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th May, 2015

30th May 2015, 20:04

Keep this E39 you have found well as it's already gaining collectible status, despite the low asking prices, which I suspect, will not last for much longer for good examples.

6th Jun 2015, 14:35

Original Poster here -

I've done over 1000 miles in my first week of ownership.

First thoughts are: the ride is much firmer than my old SE's was. It's certainly sportier and probably handles better, but I'd rather have the magic carpet ride.

It is still a sublime mile-eater however, and very comfortable at speed. It looks fine too with its deep blue paintwork and de-chromed look.

Much quicker than its reputation would suggest too, yet still averaging 35 MPG so far.

Looking forward to piling the miles on this lovely exec saloon!

2002 BMW 5 Series SE i 2.2 petrol


A timeless classic, that outshines many modern rivals


Steering wobble at speed; cured by four wheel re-balancing.

Uses a litre of oil every 4000 miles.

General Comments:

I found this E39 in virtually new condition, having been owned by an elderly couple since new.

It drives and rides significantly better than the DS5 hybrid I had as my recent company car. The engine is also quite lovely and charismatic.

I am averaging 31 MPG too, which is pretty excellent for a petrol six.

I love it so much, I am keeping it to use as my work car instead of taking a new company car. Truly one of the world's greatest ever saloon cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st October, 2013

13th Oct 2013, 09:25

Original poster here:

Did a thousand company miles last week, from motorways, across busy cities and around fast sweeping Welsh roads. This E39 is amazingly capable. Comfortable, civilized, great handling and communicative; it really does humble many brand new cars for capability. I am even learning to love the boring looks!

I do wish I had sports seats for a bit more support, but nothing at all to complain about; a great car.

2002 BMW 5 Series 2.2 petrol


Cheap to buy second hand, but expensive to run, and unreliable


Engine breather valve replaced due to oil usage and white smoke from the exhaust.

New pistons rings as oil usage still evident (1 litre per 400 miles).

Complete engine rebuild, as oil usage is still a problem after the above steps.

General Comments:

Good car for long journeys.

I have owned or had access to three 5 series of this model, and they all have had engine trouble starting at 80,000 miles.

Expect valves or piston rings to go, and it's going to cost over 1500 euro to fix.

They are not the bulletproof car everyone says.

Fixing them is difficult due to the amount of extra kit BMW load them with.

Petrol consumption is an average of 23mpg.

The 2.2 litre engine is not strong enough for weight of car.

The 3.0 litre petrol is a better match for the weight of the car.

The automatic transmission in most of them is not smooth, but may be designed to feel more sporty.

You can actually drive it smoother by selecting the gears yourself.

1st gear is particularly short.

I have owned 5 automatics, and this is the worst.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 25th September, 2011

4th Dec 2011, 10:36

Sorry, but do not agree. The experience I have had, is that I get medium repairs. It is not bulletproof, but it is not an Alfa Romeo either...

And I have the 2.0 150 bhp model, and I can agree the engine is way too small.. but have not been running into the same problems as you are.