1999 BMW 5 Series 520i SE 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Good handling, refined car, let down by the dealers


The car has failed to start on three separate occasions, two of which BMW Service were called out to, one of which required a new battery (at approximately 20000 miles).

The paint-work (optional metallic) on the car marks and scratches far too easily, next doors cat climbing on it will scratch it.

The rear cup holders are very fragile and broke within a couple of months (but were replaced by BMW).

The cloth seating is not wearing very well and is hard to clean (I do have two young kids to abuse them).

BMW dealers are rubbish. They were very eager to get the sale but after that have provided a low level of backup service and customer care. The worst example was when the car failed to start and required a new battery. The dealer refused to bring a new one out saying that BMW Service were responsible and they would not be paid if they supplied it. The result was a couple of hour's delay and a missed holiday ferry.

General Comments:

The car's handling is superb, it always feels safe and secure on dry or wet roads. It can however be very nervous in snow and ice but that's probably down to the rear-wheel drive.

The car is a very refined cruiser. It's both comfortable and very quiet, you hardly hear the engine which is a gem. It is however very sluggish to get going and its acceleration is sedate rather than sporty. It is a bit quicker if you turn off the traction control system. Should have got a bigger engine.

The main let downs are the paint-work, the cloth interior (get leather) and above all the dealers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 11th January, 2002

22nd Feb 2003, 11:07

I would agree with everything said about the 520. It is underpowered, and I would estimate that more than half of the cars on the road, along with most light vans, can out-accelerate a 520. The good side of this is the car is quite economical, returning 33mpg, without me even trying. Mine is a manual gearbox, and I wouldn't like to think how sluggish the automatic 520 must be.

I have had the AA out to mine 9 times in 18 months, and on one occasion, I was told by the AA that the problem was down to me starting the car to move it to another part of the driveway, and turning the engine off too quickly before it had warmed up. A common BMW problem he told me, and it took him 2 hours to get it going again. It is common for chippings to get caught in the brake discs, and I have to select reverse to kick them out.

Apart from its sluggishness, the car handles very well, but I regret the small engine and I intend to get a 525 when it's time to change the car. The 525 seems to have the right combination of performance and economy.

29th Apr 2004, 14:52

Prices for servicing vary from dealer to dealer due to different hourly rates.

Prices quoted here are misleading since oil service is generally far less than this.

16th Feb 2005, 03:49

A new model looks a bit like a "Mazda." In that case, all I can say is at last BMW have started making cars with style. You only have to put a BMW 320i and a Mazda Xedos 6 2.0iV6 SE side by side both of the same age (lets say 1998 models) you what hell of a difference, in the Mazda's favour.. Up until recently, have BMW had actually exterior designers with imaginations or did they just reply on their ultimate driving machine slogan for success?

12th Feb 2008, 16:56

Er yeah, right! Whatever you say! And the Xedos is not being made anymore...why?

1999 BMW 5 Series 520i 2.0i from UK and Ireland




Nothing, apart from failing to start one morning. The previous night I had turned the key, but not started it, and it apparently flooded!!

General Comments:

Brilliant car, a little underpowered at the bottom end, but the engine is so smooth and creamy, it's no hardship revving it... I LOVE it!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th March, 2000