2003 BMW 5 Series 530i SE 3.0 litre petrol from Australia and New Zealand


As close to perfect as 4-door sedans get


Radiator leaked.

Headlight adjusters broke.

Cup-holder is broken.

Spark plugs and a coil gave in at 113,000 km.

Power steering fluid leaks from PS hoses.

It's again developing a slight intermittent firing miss at idle, so I think one or more of the other 5 original coils is/are going - time to replace them all (115,000 km).

General Comments:

A truly beautiful car. The steering is fabulously accurate and requires just the right amount of heft. You know exactly where it will go in a corner. Brakes are perfection.

My suspension is the softer 'SE' (non-MotorSport) set up and I want to replace (at the least) the rear sway bar with the thicker M Sport one. But while it rolls a tad more than I want, grip is nevertheless terrific. Matching, high quality tyres are essential on the E39 chassis - worth every cent you spend. Get a MotorSport E39 if you can.

The standard BMW sound system (BMW Business) is rubbish (try and get one with the Harmon Kardon set up), but in contrast, the engine is an absolute joy. Who needs a stereo! When passing on the highway in 3rd, I sometimes think "Oh shivers, I'll need more power for this one" and that's just when it delivers. As those revs climb, it gets better and better and you just start grinning all over again. It's as tho' the engine's laughing with you.

Most serious 'under the hood' problem stories I've heard seem to stem from stupid neglect of basic maintenance. You might get away with it in your Corolla, but a dollar of oil or radiator coolant refresh saved is $1000 it'll cost you down the track. But, serviced properly, these (M54) engines and gear boxes seem to be near bullet proof.

Lastly, the interior is not only gorgeous, but wonderfully comfortable. Recently did 9 hours in the saddle in one day, and got my near 60 year-old bones out, as fresh as when we'd started out. Wanted to keep going.

If I sell this car, it will only be to buy the 'M5' version; a guy with one has said he'll sell me when he's ready. There'd be no other reason to sell.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th August, 2014

2003 BMW 5 Series 520i 2.2 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Don't buy a Singapore import


- Tyre sensor failed.

- ECU reset itself.

- Computer bug caused 2 cylinders to cut off.

- Gear shifting issues.

General Comments:

This one was a Singapore import, and they have a reputation of having a lot more electrical issues, due to being in a humid environment, and causing lot more drama.

Despite all the mentioned issues, the car drove really well when it did. The handling was great. I found body roll was high compared to my 3 Series, but inside felt grande. The seats are very comfy and it's a very slick car to drive with an executive feel to it.

The BMW workshop is generally very expensive, and I spent over 9k on fixing things, but I had a point where I had to just say - this is it. So I sold it and bought a 320i, which is very basic, but it has been a reliable car since.

I will buy another 5 Series in near future, but will be a NZ new or German import. From my experience, these cars are not a daily driver. It's different if you buy new I guess, but it's good to have it in your garage to use it occasionally.

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

Review Date: 9th January, 2014

11th Jan 2014, 04:13

A Japanese import is fine, but I've definitely heard problems with Singapore used import European cars. Your 320i uses the same engine basically as the 520i. Which part of NZ are you living in? If in Auckland, the mechanic I use is great, on the North Shore, ex-BMW South Africa.