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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    In America the other primary test is by IIHS. Check out their great website. Outstanding results for BOTH E46 3 Series and E39 5 Series. IIHS uses an offset test at higher speeds. Many argue this is a more realistic test. NHTSA tests straight head-on into the barrier. Few people crash that way.

    IIHS gives E39 5 Series a "Best Pick" rating. Excerpt:

    "The [IIHS] has evaluated the crashworthiness of the 540i in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier.

    OVERALL EVALUATION: GOOD The driver space was maintained well in the frontal offset crash test, and measures indicate that significant injury was unlikely.
    STRUCTURE/SAFETY CAGE: GOOD There was minimal intrusion into the driver footwell area and minimal rearward movement of the instrument panel.
    RESTRAINTS/DUMMY KINEMATICS: GOOD Dummy movement was well controlled. After the dummy moved forward into the airbag, it rebounded into the seat without its head coming close to any stiff structure that could cause injury.
    INJURY MEASURES: HEAD/NECK GOOD Measures taken from the head, neck, chest, and both legs indicate low risk of injury to these body regions.

    IIHS gives E46 3 Series a "Best Pick" rating. Excerpt:

    The [IIHS] has evaluated the crashworthiness of a BMW 328i with the structural changes in a 40 mph frontal offset crash test into a deformable barrier.

    OVERALL EVALUATION: GOOD The driver space was maintained well in the frontal offset crash test, and measures indicate that significant injury was unlikely.
    STRUCTURE/SAFETY CAGE: GOOD There was minimal to moderate intrusion into the driver footwell area and minimal rearward movement of the instrument panel.
    RESTRAINTS/DUMMY KINEMATICS: ACCEPTABLE Dummy movement was reasonably well controlled. However, the dummy's head contacted the steering wheel through the airbag. During rebound, the top of the head contacted the roof rail between the A- and B-pillars.
    INJURY MEASURES: GOOD Measures taken from the head, neck, chest, and both legs indicate low risk of injury to these body regions. Head accelerations from the steering wheel and roof rail contacts were low.

    There is a worldwide New Car Crash Test Assessment Program. USA, Australia, Japan, and Europe. Each has a great website.
  • pen101pen101 Posts: 238
    Thank you kdshapiro and riez for the information. I guess I can put away the crash helmet and suit for now.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Don't draw any conclusions from driving the Los Angeles Freeway. That's about as skewed a region as there is in the country.

    It so happens that I was surveyed several months ago by a market research firm doing demographic anlaysis of "high end" car buyers. As a courtesy, they shared with me the results of their findings. Unfortunately I tossed them, but seem to recall that, for the M5, average age was late 40's, median household income was $500,000 and median net worth was $6 million. Note these are median figures, not "means", which would be substantially higher.

    A couple of other tidbits I recall: median net worth of Ferrari 360 buyers was $12 million, with an average age of mid 40's. Bentley buyers median net worth was $30 million and average age was mid 50's.
  • While crash testing does give some indication of structural strength, it is not always related to real world crash injury claims data. It seems that manufacturers will build a car to do well in a particular test. In the past, U.S. car manufacturers geared their vehicles to the frontal barrier test and the results were quite impressive for certain vehicles (i.e. many recent
    Ford products have 5 star frontal impact scores) however their offset scores did not garner the same. Older style vehicles tend to not do well with the side impact test because there was not an incentive to increase the side impact strenth, no one really cared to test it. Now with the new emphasis on side impact and offset impact, there will be a new emphasis on the structural integrity of the next round of new vehicles. I personally look at the frontal impact scores in conjunction with offset and side impact scores. However, these scores do not necessarily make or break a car buying decision. You may notice that cars that do well on the frontal impact testing do not necessarily do well on the offset impact.
  • mxpro738mxpro738 Posts: 59
    During recent test drives, I compared the 325 to the 330. I found the 325 to be lacking punch, while I personally found the 330 to have a strong enough motor for me.

    The recent rebates now have me looking a the 530i. Considering my above opinions on the 3er, will the extra 200 pounds of the 530i make the 5er seem short on power?

  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    mxpro738... Just take a test drive. That will likely answer your question. The 330i manual will be the quickest and have the best power to weight ratio. The 530i manual is pretty quick, too. And the 330ia and 530ia are decently quick.

    Never heard anyone say the 530i manual wasn't quick. Quick enough? That depends. Certainly not M3 or M5 quick. Or even 540i6 quick. But likely quick enough for 95 percent of the world.
  • yama330yama330 Posts: 9
    I have a 2002 330xi with the same engine and I logged my oil consumption over the last two years. My experience is that the oil consumption is higher when the car is new. In the first service interval, my 330xi needed one litre of oil added at 5250 km (3,250 mi) and then at 16,800 km (10,400 mi). Now in the second service interval, I just added one litre 14,200 km (8,800 mi) after the first oil service. (Litre = 1.06 US qt)

    So the first litre got me 3,250 mi, the second about 7,200 mi, and after oil change the next litre 8,800 mi. 5-30 grade oil was used so far. I will ask for 5-40 oil which is also recommended for the next oil change. The oil consumption should be lower and engine protection better at the cost of slight increase in fuel consumption.

    I hope this helps.
  • Just got back from the BMW dealer today. They gave me an offer of $38,645 (not including bank fee, etc..) for the 525ia, with premium package and xenon lights. Seems a bit high to me.. Any thoughts? Also, does anyone know if the 2003 525i will still be available in December? Thanks!
  • Hi stockguy71, the production of the '03 5 series supposedly ended last month. While there as still some "on the boat" from Germany, the availabilty of specific options will dry up with time. I think the "dealer cash" of $3,500 is still available on purchases. Some individual have been able to negotiate deals of $1,000 over invoice, then taking into account the dealer cash incentive, net a cost of $2,500 below invoice. Good luck!
  • multiplechoice, thanks for the info!
  • zhangqjzhangqj Posts: 15
    I seem to recall last time you said the median net worth of M5ers was 4M. I don't know about Ferrari. According to this article, e=&contentId=A35223-2003May9&notFound=true

    Bentley buyers have on average networth of 15M.

    Btw, on the Bay Area freeways, I see M5s daily, but only once have I seen a young woman behind the wheel. 99% of the times the driver was a middle aged guy (30 - 60), alone in the car.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    The 530i is not as quick as the 330i. But it is a significant improvement from the former 528i.

    In the price/power continuum, I believe the 530i is probably the best trade off within the 5 series line up. Here's how I would rate them (all with manual transmissions):

    525i: 0-60 in roughly 7.8 seconds. Solid and adequate for the average driver.

    530i: for a nominal $3-4k price increase, a noticable jump in power (0-60 in 6.5 +/- seconds) with no penalty in gas milage or insurance premiums.

    540i: for $8-10k more than the 530i (including gas guzzler), more power, but not that much more performance at "legal" speeds (0-60 in 5.9+/- seconds). You have to be a torque addict or drive at 80 mph+ to take full advantiage of the 540i over 530i power. And you will pay a significant premium in insurance and gas for that privaledge.

    M5: for a mere $16k more than the 540i, the ultimate performance sedan (0-60 in 4.8 seconds and handling that belies its 4,000 lb curb weight). Gas and insurance - who cares?

    If you can live with the smaller 330i, its a bit more sporting than the 530i. But a small bit in my book. I'd take the added luxury, room and comfort of the 530i, equip it with a sport package, and be happy to have the best handling mid size sedan this side of the $75k M5.
  • joatmonjoatmon Posts: 315
    I think you summed it up very well. I concur. I've driven them all, and I bought a 530i, SP, PP, 5 speed earlier in the year. No regrets. (at least not until I drive my son's 540i 6 speed)
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Hab, I think you make good points that the 530 offers the best all-round 5-series. I like to think "balance" ('02 530, PP, stick). Same chassis (and luxury appointments) as the more expensive, and heavier in the front-end 540, nearly the lightest 5-series with nearly ideal 50/50 weight distribution, BEST mileage of all of the 5-series (with stick), preferred-for-precision rack-and-pinion v. recirculating ball steering of 540, perfect primary balance of inline-6 (v. inherent rocking couple of V-8), no gas guzzler tax (talk about money down the drain!) I skipped the Sport Package, stock suspension is firm enough, and all-season tires make sense here in the Midwest.
  • does anyone know the amound of discount the diplomatic purchase program offer? my wife has her diplomatic passport from working with the State Dept. Thanks!
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    sdg380... Don't sell the 540i6 short. I drive one. Wife has 323ia. I drive her's.

    I don't notice any steering superiority. Both are fantastic.

    My 540i6 gets over 26 mpg cruising at 74 mph. Her's gets about 28 mpg.

    Both engines are silky smooth.

    No gas guzzler tax on CPO units.

    Using MY2003 data...

    Weight differential and distribution not that different. For manual models:

    525i= 3450 lbs and 50.2/49.8
    530i= 3494 lbs and 50.5/49.5
    540i6= 3748 lbs and 52.1/47.9

    So 540i6 weighs only 254 pounds (or 7.2 percent) more than the 530i. Front weight distribution only 1.6 percent heavier.

    Then compare power (hp/torque):

    525i= 184/175
    530i= 224/214
    540i6= 290/324

    The 540i6 produces 110 lb-ft more torque than 530i!

    540i6 has top speed limited to 155 mph. 525i and 530i limited to 128 mph.

    540i6 comes standard with Sport Package!
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    You made my day. I'm telling my wife that I'm only 7.2% (10-12 lbs) overweight compared to a couple of years ago. And, while I was formerly 50/50 balanced, I'm still only 52.1% "butt heavy".

    Seriously, the 540i 6-speed is a phenominal car and no one I know wouldn't be proud to have it as a daily driver. But the 530i 5-speed is a big improvement in actual performance over the old 528i and significantly closes the gap for those of us who can live with a 128 mph top speed. Using my 1995 Nissan Maxima 5-speed as the benchmark, the 528i was noticably slower off the line and in the midrange. The 530i is a bit quicker all around. Of course any RWD 5-series is a superior handler than the FWD Maxima. Interestingly the Maxima SE has a 140 mph top speed but I haven't used the last 40+ mph of that range (nor on my S2000, for that matter).

    My slight fear of the 540i is long term maintenance and repairs. My Maxima has 142k trouble free miles. My Nissan dealer is also a BMW dealer (VOB, Rockville Maryland). The service manager claims the BMW I6 is as dependable and durable as the Maxima's highly acclaimed V6. He also speaks well of the BMW 4.4 liter V8, but is quick to acknowledge that it is likely to require "quite a bit more" maintenance and repairs after 75-100k miles than the others. I haven't probed him on what that equates to in $ and cents, but he drives a 530i himself. Since my history has been to buy new, pay cash and keep a car for 7-9+ years, the $42k 530i seems like pretty safe bet. I know you are a CPO fan and that equation may produce different results.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Not to sell a 540 short, a great ride to be sure, but I still like a six in this chassis for balance (would really like the M3's six). Also, I bought new, so I've still got nearly $10k savings in the bank that's not depreciating (albeit, not earning much interest either!). And while buying CPO is a good way to limit the bigger $$ that a 540 depreciates, I'm always just a little leery of buying a pre-owned performance car, for obvious reasons.

    As you note from weight distribution, I think we know where that extra 254 lbs. is (ie, over the front axle)-thus reduced polar moment of inertia for 530 when cornering. Also, at less than 3500 lbs., my 530 was about the same weight as my old 525, and I just think closer to 3000 than 4000 is better for a car with sporting pretensions (that's why those new Porsche SUV's are such a joke, tested weight is like 5700 lbs.!) And while the difference in mileage probably only amounts to a few hundred bucks difference in gas per year, I like the idea of a car engineered to provide performance and efficiency, contributed to by slightly higher compression ratio of 530 (10.2:1 v. 10:1).

    To be sure, I have lusted after a 6-spd. box, but as I've said, I think any BMW is sporty enough without the sport package (with stiffer suspension, and those firm-riding, pothole-vulnerable low profile tires and wheels), and the 540 stick was take it or leave it with the sport package.

    No doubt the eight is a torquer, although the Vanos on the 530 gives it bottom end my 525 never had. And no doubt 540 has lots more top end, but what's the fastest you've had it? Guess I'm getting old and chicken (and afraid of getting arrested!), not too many places around here to do 128 mph, much less 155. But hey, this is Golden Delicious v. Red Delicious, all very tasty!
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Habitat--that's a great line, I'm using it too!
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Those weight figures I cited above are empty weights. Add yourself and a full tank of gas. Now you have just added anywhere from 200-300 pounds.

    The 4.4L engine really packs a torque punch. Across a vast RPM spread. And the HP is quite good. Plus it used a 6-speed manual with different gearing than the 530i.
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