1997 BMW 5 Series 520i 2.0 litre in-line 6 from Germany


Very nice


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!

General Comments:

This car handles like a dream, could use more power though.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 26th October, 2007

1997 BMW 5 Series 535i 3.5 petrol V8 from Australia and New Zealand




Had to replace the main engine fuse when I plugged a car fridge into the cigarette lighter and overloaded it.

Factory alarm siren malfunctioned and went off randomly; had to be replaced.

Erroneous 'check coolant level' warnings at times.

Has developed a 10-second rough idle on cold start.

General Comments:

The E39 5 series BMW was often named 'best car in the world' during its lifetime, and it's a well deserved recognition.

The car is beautiful to drive, especially on long distance. The ride quality is excellent, and it handles very well for a large car. It's also a very good looking car.

My one complaint would be that the car doesn't feel quite as solid as my previous (E34) 5 series, but this is relative, and it still feels like it built from granite compared to other manufacturers. Because I have the satellite navigation and 6 stack CD, the boot space is a little restricted, and the rear seats are not split/fold as my previous 5 series had.

I bought my 5 series in the UK while living there, and liked it so much I imported it back into Australia with me.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th July, 2007

19th Jul 2007, 07:44

I'm considering doing the same - taking my 2002 E39 530i estate back to Aus as well.

Is it difficult / expensive to do?

Any advice greatly appreciated.