2002 BMW 5 Series 530i Sport 3.0 petrol from UK and Ireland

Summary:

Premium German executive motoring for Astra money.

Faults:

No faults.

General Comments:

Astonishing value for money.

Was actually looking for a 3-series initially, but with used 5-series prices plummeting, the sheer value of the thing won me over.

Bought this immaculate one owner, Titanium Silver, full BMW historied example in Jan 05 with 49,000 miles and a few months manufacturers warranty left on it for the same price as new, mid-spec Vauxhall Astra. Apart from some creasing on the leather on the drivers seat, the interior looks, feels and smells new, and the bodywork is mint.

As a package, I cannot seriously fault the car. It's quick, the 3.0 engine is both grunty and economical (and sounds fabulous), the gearbox is slick, the handling superb, the accommodation generous, the build quality beyond criticism and the equipment levels generous. I don't know what on my car was standard and what was optional, but it has a great sound system, full leather, climate control, a full complement of airbags, electric mirrors and cruise control.

The interior is a lovely place to be with BMW's trademark big, clear dials and logical control layout (no daft i-Drive nonsense on these older shape models thankfully). The black leather contrasts well with the silver aluminium trim strip that runs around the door trim and across the middle of the dash, and around the gear lever gaiter on the console. It's stylish without being over the top, and a lot more airy than a typical German car interior. One of the cars I looked at had wood effect trim instead of the aluminium which looked awful, but there are a lot of options to choose from. The seats, driving position and the weighting of the controls have clearly been very carefully designed. I can (and occasionally have to) drive this car all day without feeling tired or uncomfortable.

If I had to nit pick, the ride is a little on the firm side thanks to 18" wheels and the sports suspension, but it's nothing I can't live with. The trade off is superb handling with very little body roll, lots of steering feel and plenty of traditional RWD throttle adjustability on offer. This is the only car of this size I have ever driven that feels happy being taken by the scruff of the neck and driven like a hot hatch. Body control, poise and balance remain near faultless whatever you ask of the car.

In more practical terms, and as a day to day car, I would argue this car does almost nothing wrong. It's beautifully engineered and finished, the six cylinder engine is silky smooth, the handling, as mentioned before is first class, "between refills" fuel economy has never dropped below 28 mpg (and almost always exceeds 30 mpg, the kids love the rear seat accommodation, the boot is huge and it's cracking value on the second hand market.

I managed to negotiate a discount from the seller due to an Inspection 2 service being due when I purchased the car. This was carried out by a local independent specialist (using genuine BMW parts) for £185. The staff are all ex-BMW dealer technicians, and only service BMW's, so they really know their stuff.

To summarise, if you want a classic example of solid German executive motoring, the 5-series almost chooses itself. I did try an E class also, but it lacked not only the dynamic qualities of the 5, but more worryingly the build quality too. Year for year, a used 5-series is not only cheaper than a 3-series, but represents a staggering amount of ability, quality and engineering for the money. They can be looked after properly for surprisingly little outlay, and have a far nicer image than a 3.

This car has opened my eyes quite considerably, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th November, 2005

7th Nov 2005, 16:04

A very well written review, thank you!

17th Jan 2006, 08:00

Well written review and completely agree. Just started driving an 02' plated 530d Automatic. Incredibly complete vehicle, powerful, economical, great handling and relaxing to drive.

Also agree about the less aggressive image than the 3 series.

Brilliantly engineered car.

18th Jul 2006, 22:25

Hello, I am from Hong Kong. I bought a BMW 530i automatic about a week ago. It is the old model (without the I-drive, among other things) and was made in 2002 with only 21000 Km on the clock. So far, I love everything about the car. It is powerful with sharp acceleration and excellent handling. There's just this (I hope little) problem that's kinda bugging me. There seems to be something wrong with the automatic transmission. On one of my recent journeys, I switched from D to N before the red light. When I switched back to D, the gear signals (N, D etc) had all disappeared from the instrument panel and the car seemed to have lost some power and I had to press the pedal hard to make it move. I restarted the car and everything returned to normal. This has happened about 3 times since I bought the car. It once happened when I started the car in the morning. The dealer advised me not to switch between N and D. Also, the yellow warning light would come on once a while. According to the manual, `a fault has caused the automatic transmission to switch to the emergency-run program'. Can somebody help? Thanks a lot.

-Alan.

3rd Sep 2006, 11:53

First of all check the oil level in the automatic transmission.

Then restart the car computer by disconnecting the battery, pressing the brake pedal for a few seconds and then leave it for and hour, come back and connect the battery again. Newer transmissions have complex electronics in them and sometimes need to be reset.

2nd Nov 2007, 16:27

I bought my car nearly a year ago (530i Sports,02 registration with 47k mileage). The car has a very high oil consumption rate - roughly @ 1 litre per 1000 miles. Is this normal for this model of cars? I have taken the car to the dealer garage several times now and they kept telling me the 530i burns oil at that kind of rate.

24th Dec 2008, 15:59

I was looking for a 3 series too, couldn't work which 3 to buy so I went for a 2001 530i sport instead,one good/meaningful look at a sport 530i (M5 lite?)and it was really no competition.

As for the comment about the hot hatch, I did have a Renault GT 5 turbo not so long ago and they both have/had the same excellent steering and brake "feel" which really inspires confidence.

The other thing I will say is after nearly 3 years of ownership, the car has aged a bit, however I still find new "angles" to its' shape that I had never considered before an interesting design and an unusual effect. Brilliant car though!!!!

2002 BMW 5 Series 530i from North America

Summary:

So good, that if you have the opportunity to purchase one you should

Faults:

The passenger side cup holder broke.

The holders for the window shades broke off when my younger brother messed with it.

General Comments:

I had to replace the passenger side taillight recently after sliding out on a 90 degree turn on a dirt road. Just for the record, that turn was the only piece of the road with gravel on it.

This car handles like a dream and accelerates hard, especially with the manual engaged. The stock sound is more than adequate for the average person.

My favorite hing to do before a test day is to role down the windows and sun roof, switch into manual, and tear up the road.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 25th January, 2005