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BMW 5 series review

Updated on October 24, 2011

The 5 series has been around since 1972 when they gained their model designation as the fifth of the series of vehicles built after their first V8.

Yes, they built the very first V8 after the second world war.

They were always a high quality sedan that was better than most in their class and continued with much the same look until a radical update in 1988 with the advent of the E34 cars.

The body shape of the E34 owes quite a lot to Bertone, with it's soft lines and rounded corners, and remains much the same today in basic shape, but subtle differences in headlight and grill as well as small but important body remoulding has kept it up front in the classy looks department.

The BMW 5 series is in my opinion one of the nicest medium sized car on the market. Going back as far as the E34 this has been a slick unit.

Available with the little 2 litre motor for countries with engine size limitations even with the little motor it is still a very nice car to use.

Dual air-conditioning is available for climates that need it such as Malaysia and the build quality has remained clearly excellent with panel fit and paintwork that are impeccable.

A complete lack of body rattle even in cars with massive mileage points to a car that is engineered very well indeed.

BMW have sold masses of the 5 series including the spectacular M5 fitted with the 5 litre 40 valve 10 cylinder motor and a zero to 100 time of 4.7 seconds. Very quick for a medium sized car!

An E34 BMW 5 series. The 7 looked much the same inside and out.
An E34 BMW 5 series. The 7 looked much the same inside and out.

M5 Serously fast!

The M5 is an earth shattering speed monster on the road. It is really a racing car but if you want to use one on the road it is a weapon!
The M5 is an earth shattering speed monster on the road. It is really a racing car but if you want to use one on the road it is a weapon!

If you ever consider buying an old 5 series you will be pleasantly surprised at how good they are to drive by comparison to other cars of the same vintage..

There are many fine examples of E34s still in mint condition despite their age. They were made between 1988 and 1996 and if in the right condition will drive almost like a new car.

In these years BMW had a well tested long life engine and drive train that had sorted out most of the weaknesses.

It is a great car to buy if you know BMW's and are looking for a cheap car that has real class.

The BMW 5 series body is not just pretty on the outside either. Although never flashy the more refined interior reeks of leather and quality finishes. Carpets and all wear surfaces are made of top grade materials befitting a car of this price.

If you step out of a 7 series you will feel like you are in the same car. Apart from more space, (not much more) in the 7 series, the 5 feels just as luxurious especially if optioned up.

The beautiful BMW 5 series
The beautiful BMW 5 series
BMW 5 series interior.
BMW 5 series interior.

Driving the 5 series.

BMWs have a distinctive feel that experienced drivers enjoy. You can feel the road surface through the steering wheel very well, without having to resort to heavy steering to achieve "feel."

Instrumentation has always been good in BMWs with many models having an unusual red lit dashboard and instruments which is very easy to read at night and easy on your eyes while driving.

Headlights were never as good as the car until the later models in any of the BMWs and the early model 5 series was no exception.

The lights were OK, but not in keeping with the rest of the car.

Disc brake wear is not as pronounced as the 7 series, (weight) but still use discs fairly quickly, and pads have to be inspected regularly for fast wear, but they do stop well, discs are cheap and it is a small price to pay for the exceptional pedal feel under hard braking conditions.

When racing the compound in the disc pads and the metal in the disc rotor are changed to allow the brakes to last longer under such harsh conditions.

The trade off in brake longevity on the road cars is to create a better driver experience.

It works beautifully!

7 series BMW

The 7 series from this angle look very similar to the 5 series. It's longer.
The 7 series from this angle look very similar to the 5 series. It's longer.

My conclusions? I would rather have a well cared for use 5 series than most other new mid-sized cars.

If buying a late model one, I would choose the 2005 model as it has less problems with the computer and engine bolt ons than the 2004 which commonly had valve cover gasket leaks combined with failure of the crankcase ventilation valve and pressure regulator assembly. Both the 2006 and 2007 models had some problems too although most would have already been repaired and updated during servicing.

Other viable alternative may be:

The Honda Legend.

If you are less concerned with the driving and want something reliable and well built with loads of luxury second hand, Legends are legendary for build quality and few design faults.

In America I would be more inclined to buy a BMW 7 series than a 5 series as it is similar, but has even more luxury options including a long wheelbase model and is mechanically very much the same car in the second series.

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    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Well mechanically, the Lexus has been a gem. As much as I love some of the Europeans, I would not recommend one to replace a Lexus, unless it had been rebuilt by an expert and was better than new.

      The latest BMW and Mercedes Benz have so many faults that are electronic, I wouldn't touch an unsorted one with a barge pole! Thanks for the comment.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I own a Lexus. I'd love to buy a European car, but I'm skeptical. I always think they're going to be problamatic....

      Nice hub

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Biarrritz the E28 M5351 had head gasket problems, gearbox leaks from the early ZF gearbox,front discs warp, and weakness in the fuel pump are just a few of the problems, however most faults are covered in my other hub covering other models.

      Thank you for the question on the E28.

    • Biarritz profile image

      Biarritz 

      7 years ago

      what about an E28 M535i?

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you for commenting Sa'ge. Beautiful cars are something I love too. I will drop in for a coffee Sa'ge, you are always such a good host.

    • Sa`ge profile image

      Sa`ge 

      8 years ago from Barefoot Island

      beautiful to say the least. speed I don't care about. Now id I could afford even a tiny auto it would be nice. LOL but I love coming to see what you have now and then, even if I have no auto at all, and have not for so long I have no memory of one. But, I think I can still drive one, after all I have only driven standard shifts, way back when. :D have not sen you in a while, come on by, have an espresso while you there. :D ~aloha~

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks mate! Where are you in Indonesia? You are just up the road from Darwin Australia so to speak!

      I am sure you spend your hard earned salary from teaching on far more important things. I know from your profile that you love children. Much more important than cars!

      Yes the BMW is "top draw."

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      BMW still the best, my friend. Although I don't have it. Thanks for share about the classic BMW. I can found classic BMW in my country. I love this hub. Vote Up.

      Prasetio

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Try the X5 if you want an SUV. They are different to most in feel and nice to drive around town. They also have plenty of air bags.

    • profile image

      mtsi1098 

      8 years ago

      Well I have always wanted to test drive a BMW and this certainly pushes me to do that...I have seen the X5 SUV and that looks nice too...I guess I will have to test drive that one as well...thanks

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you Paradise. More to do on this one yet.

      BMW do make some of the worlds most beautiful cars in my opinion too!

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thanks for popping back in Alternative Prime.. You sound like you know your cars.

      I made my living out of finding design faults, running workshops, manufacturing replacement components to replace faulty designs in motorcycles and cars.

      Some of the best companies have made some of the biggest mistakes, such as Suzuki's voltage controlled regulator which cost a fortune and died as regular as clockwork.

      The cost of repairing the tail-shaft and balancer assemblies on a BMW are outrageous!

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I think so too nms.

      I will be doing another hub on their early classics as soon as I have time.

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you Hello, hello. I agree, having owned a Benz.

      The early model motors were very ordinary in the Benz, and the transmission was not as smooth either.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Lovely hub, Earnest. I love those cars!

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 

      8 years ago from > California

      I'll keep an eye out for your update regarding the drive shaft balancer.

      I think with today's technological advancements and the desire of all manufacturers to integrate with existing models and then rush them out to the showroom floor before the competition can sometimes lead to problems. So yes I agree, even BMW is not totally immune to design flaws or other issues wether it's due to a rush to roll the product out or any other aspect.

      Don't think I've ever run across any auto manufacturer that had a perfect track record.

      Best Regards

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      It is a beautful car and I prefer it anytime to Mercedes. I can't afford any of them.

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR

      earnestshub 

      8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you Alternate Prime. BMW is quality all the way. I will be adding their design faults in each of the models soon.They did have some problems with the drive shaft balancer on a few of them that will get a mention.

      I like to tell both sides.

    • nms profile image

      nms 

      8 years ago from Cochin

      Classic and beautiful BMW

    • Alternative Prime profile image

      Alternative Prime 

      8 years ago from > California

      I think BMW's are a class act. Always on the cutting edge of technology and built to last. You just gotta love the hood & trunk ornament. Just the sight of that blue & white insignia indicates a well earned and maintained reputation for building a quality product.

      It's just an overall sleek and stylish looking car without over doing the design. Good hub and I enjoyed reading it.

      Best Regards

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