- Automotive Makes & Models
BMW 5 series review
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!
M5 Serously fast!
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.
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
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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