BMW 5 Series Saloon 1996-2003

BMW 5 Series Saloon 1996-2003

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pros:

  • Excellent driving experience
  • Great range of engines
  • High quality interior and well equipped

Cons:

  • Rear passenger space is limited
  • Expensive to maintain

Overview

The BMW 5-Series comes as either a Saloon or a Touring model with both of them being extremely comfortable and are exceptional cars to drive blowing all the competition out of the water when it was first released. The boot space is expansive in the saloon and acceptable in the touring and both will easily hold a families luggage for a week away. The only draw back is the lack of passenger space seat space in the back which is lacking in both versions.

Exterior and Interior

The 5-Series comes as either a Saloon or Touring model with both being spacious inside. The Saloon offers plenty of space up front with comfortable seats. Passengers in the back may find legroom lacking though. The boot is large though being able to easily accommodate the whole family's luggage for a week away. The Touring versions seats are roughly the same as the saloon with it still lacking legroom in the back. The boot isn't as big as rivals like the Mercedes E-Class and the Audi A6 as both have bigger boots. You'll still easily be able to fit all of your luggage though thanks to the wide loading bay and the low bit lip which makes removing heavier items easy. All the trim in the cabin is of high quality and feels robust to the touch with all the knobs, stalks and buttons on the dash and central console looking and feeling solid.

Performance and Economy

The 520i is the most frugal of the petrol engines at 29mpg, but is also the slowest at 9.2 seconds from 0-60mph. The 523i is quicker by just over half a second and is only 1mpg behind the 520i. The 525i, 528i and 530i all have the same 28mpg as the 523i but all have improved speed with the 530i coming out on top taking just 7.3 seconds to go from0-60mph. The top of the range 540i is the fastest of all the engines, both diesel and petrol, at 6.1 seconds from 0-60mph, it isn't as frugal as all the other engines though with the fuel efficiency dropping down to 22mpg. The diesel engines start with the 525tds which was phased out in 2000 for the more powerful and economical 520d which goes from 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds which is over a second quicker than the older engine and is 5mpg more economical at 40mpg. The top of the range 530d is the quickest at 7.8 seconds from 0-60mph and isn't far behind the smaller engine fuel efficiency wise achieving 38mpg. When it comes to insuring them the entry level 520i comes in at group 14 and the diesels command a higher premium than their petrol counterparts.

Like to Drive

The 5-Series is practically unbeatable when it comes to its handling and driving experience blowing all of the competition out of the water when it was released and is still able to hold its own a decade later. The handling is precise and poised with the steering feeling well weighted and accurate especially in the corners. The suspension gives a perfectly smooth ride riding over any bumps with ease. The standard traction and electronic suspension control along with the rear wheel drive enable the 5-Series to stay well planted to the road and provides never ending grip at all times.

Faults and Repairs

The 5-Series isn't as trouble free as we would expect from a BMW with the electrics causing a fair few problems so be sure to check everything thoroughly. The internal cooling system also causes a few of its own problems accounting for roughly a quarter of all repairs, so be sure to check that the air-con blows both hot and cold air. Other than that there are not many other faults to report and the services and repair costs are less than that of both Mercedes and Audi. Using an independent garage will save you even more money with their average charges being about half of that of BMW dealerships.


Overall Rating:
Review by Guest
Monday, May 16, 2016

Overview

"Smooth as silk"

Exterior and Interior

Road and wind noise is all but eliminated due to the excellent build quality and streamlining. The air conditioning and separate 'Zones' makes the interior a pleasurable place to be. All in all the 5 series lives up to BMW's reputation for quality and comfort.

Performance and Economy

Great acceleration when needed, easily reaches the speed limit without the need for excessive engine revving. Gives a good 35+ MPG which is surprising for such a large car.

Like to Drive

Like all BMW's the 5 series is a pleasure to drive. The 2 litre engine is responsive and the acceleration is surprisingly good for such a solid and sturdy car. The ride quality is as smooth as silk, the BMW takes all but the worst of the uneven roads in it's stride with ease and comfort. <

Faults and Repairs

Sadly the suspension bushes began to fail after 125,000 miles and some 15 years. At such an age it became more expensive to repair than it was actually worth so I had to let it go.
Quality
Performance
Comfort
Value