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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    snagiel & joho01... My focus on comparisons between 530i and 540i has always tried to take into account some things. First, people posting here seem to be buying 530i's that have a decent amount of options and which pushes the final MSRP in the $47,000-50,000 range. Second, many people buy automatics. Third, lots of people lease. Fourth, there is a trade off inherent to 540i vs 530i. To keep the MSRP same or similar, you might give up a few luxury "goodies" but you gain a lot more acceleration performance. For a lot of people, that is worth it.

    The gap narrows quickly between loaded 530iA and base or lightly equipped 540iA. And the difference in total cost of two leases can be dramatically different than the total cost difference of an outright purchase.

    Just for fun, how many people here bought 525i or 530i with a final MSRP of under $45,000?

    Keep in mind we are talking about cars costing nearly $50,000. A $5,000 difference is only 10 percent. If you lease and not buy, the final difference over 36 month lease might not be that much each month. A $3,000 difference is only 5 percent. Not that big, esp. if you lease or plan to own for a very, very long time.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    OK, just for fun, how many people here bought a 540 with a final MSRP of under $55k?
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    stickered for a bit under $60K. But she is a near fully loaded '98 540i 6-speed I bought CPO for about $35,000.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    snagiel... Closed? I hardly think so. Is mine a cost of $60,000 or $35,000? I only paid the latter. Why can't I or anyone else looking at CPO cars compare any 5 Series for similar price, regardless of year, original MSRP, or type?

    Notice you never address the cost difference between base 540iA and loaded 530i, esp. automatic. The price gap really does narrow and the differences are between critical factors inherent to each, like engine (bigger V-8 vs smaller I-6), and optional "goodies" (like DSP or Comfort Seat).

    If someone is more interested in automatics and more interested in performance over luxury, then there clearly is a valid and fair comparison between base 540iA and loaded 530iA. In such a case it is not fair or accurate to always say there is an $8-10K difference. Case closed?
  • john01john01 Posts: 246
    I am not sure how many people will actually compare a loaded 530i to a base 540i, new, in this case. If one is looking at a loaded 530i, then the person is interested in all the features, but if the same person then looks at the base 540i, even with the additional standard items, one still does not get ALL the options one wants. With that in mind, loaded 530 to base 540 sounds like apples to oranges, to me at least.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    First, no matter what way you cut it, a 530i sport or 530iA, similarly equiped to a 540i 6-speed or 540iA w/ sport package has an MSRP of at least $7,800 less. Add a $1,300 gas guzzler tax to a 540i and you get a $9,100 differential. Don't even suggest a 540i w/o sport package - that's a waste of money for anyone desiring "performance".

    Second, I would agree that there was a big difference in acceleration between the old 540i vs. the old 528i. The new 530i, especially with the super-smooth 5-speed manual, considerably narrows the gap. I test drove them extensively and the 540i only shows any measurable advantage after about 50-60 mph. And for those that like nimbleness, the extra 400lbs on the 540i can be felt at all speeds.

    Third, the up front cost differential is only part of the story. I extensively researched the maintenance and repair history of BMW's V8's and I6's when I was considering a 5-series. There is no doubt that 120-150k+ miles on a V-8 is going to cost you a lot more in routine and non-routine costs than BMW's I6.

    Using the current 5-series as the measuring stick, here's how I would rate the series today in terms of overall performance under enthusiastic (but not insane) driving:

    Current 525i - 1 (note - not a "1" compared to other cars, just using as a starting point for the 5 series)
    Former 528i - 2.5
    Current 530i - 5
    Current 540i - 6
    Current M5 - 10

    I would be hard pressed to advise anyone that current 540i is a good value as a performance "upgrade" over the current 530i. If you have the bucks, the M5 is truly in a supercar league. Whatever difference there is between the 540 and 530 is magnified at least 3-4 times between the M5 and 540. And at least it holds it's value well enough to partially offset the $20k price premium.

    The new 5-series, which will likely utilize the 325 hp V8 of the new 7-series, will widen the gap and perhaps make the trade-up from a 530 a better deal. But in the meantime, for everyone considering a 530i, I think it's a great choice.
  • cramarcramar Posts: 7
    I priced on net then i negotiate with a guy from Difeo bmw s internet dept. You can call him if interested Greg Berkowitz 201-568-9000. Tell him cramar sent you
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    I'll try one last time only because you keep bringing back the same desparate point. It is possible, yes, to option up a 530 near the base price of a 540 (although, with your term "goodies," you make it sound like all the options are pure fluff). I'm not ignoring that fact, I'm saying that fact is misleading, as John and Habitat pointed out above.

    As for your CPO 540, you only proved my point that, in this luxury league, "base prices" are pertinent only for marketers. Virtually no one buys any car in this price range with no options. So your argument is not only misleading but unrealistic as well.

    Earlier, when I considered the M3, I first thought that for a similar price I could get the Boxster--or better yet the Boxster S (MSRP $42.6k and $51.6k, respectively). Have you ever looked at the option list for a Porsche? It's almost funny; you can literally double the cost of the car with enough options. Granted, some are completely fluff (e.g. Porsche emblems woven into the headrest), but so much else you're shocked to discover they don't offer standard, like wood/leather, etc.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    How many 530i buyers here have the Sport Package? Seems like like of you are buying just the Premium Package. How many are buying automatics? Seems like more than a couple. So what is the price difference between a base non-Sport 540iA and a decently loaded 530iA? Not as much as you'd think and NOT the $8-10,000 various people keep repeating here. The cars are more similar than different. The price difference, depending upon your "goodies", seems well worth it considering you can afford a $50,000 car to begin with (or we wouldn't be having this discussion?).

    habitat1... As I've said repeatedly, I'm really talking about 530iA vs 540iA. Non-Sport, 'cause that seems to be what people are buying here. Your chart is purely subjective. My numbers would likely be completely different. Guessing give 10 different people the same task and we'd get at least 5 different charts. Maybe more? Why not put together a chart showing all the various 5 Series sedan combos, automatic and manual? There really is a significant difference between the automatic 540iA and 530iA. And the published acceleration figures still favor 540iA over 530iM.

    My chart might look like (I think all BMWs are at least a 5; no such thing as a 1 or 2 except maybe the old 318iA)...

    525iA 5
    530iA 6
    525iM 6
    530iM 7
    540iA 9
    540iM 11
    M5 13!

    Remember the movie "This Is Spinal Tap?" BUT IT GOES TO ELEVEN!!!

    A base, no options 2002 540iA w/dest has an MSRP of $51,845. A similarly equipped 2002 530iA might cost around $46,370 (options include AT, Prem Pkg, Prem Sound, and Xenon HID headlights). That is a difference of only $5,475. Or 11.8 percent of the 530iA's MSRP. The 530iA gets the "goodie" stereo, but the base 540iA comes with different wheels, automatic ventilation system, and upgraded multi-information display.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    First, you're not proving what people are buying, only the already-accepted fact that it is possible to price up a 530. You continue to compare it to a bare-bones 540, which I argue is exceedingly rare.

    Second, your chart is comical: If the ratings are relative and arbitrary, why use a 5-13 scale?! And if you think the difference between the 540 and the 530 is twice that between the M5 and the 540, you're delusional. I've driven or been in all of them, and the M5 is in a league of its own. The 540 doesn't come close.

    Third, your price analysis is, surprise, wrong. The same premium sound is an option on the 540 as well, so there's no sense in getting it just for the 530 in your comparison. And the Premium Package would include the auto climate control as well as the upgraded trip computer. So that difference is $6,675 (14.8 percent increase), which isn't commensurate with the increased performance the 540 offers above and beyond the 530. And, neither of these cars are really worthwhile without the Sport Package, which widens the gap by another $500, and then you add the gas guzzler tax on the 540, not to mention the higher gas, insurance, and maintenance costs, and, well, that precious thin margin you tried finding between the 530 and 540 quickly dissipates.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Sorry my friend, it is still a difference of $8,350. Maybe you missed the "SP" designation (used extensively over in the 3-Series thread to denote "Sport Package") in my description of the 530i from post #1826, but if you look back there, you will see it.

    So, basically, different strokes for different folks. For me, the extra power of the 540i (or the M5 for that matter) would be nice, but not necessarly desirable for the price. Could I afford the 540i, easily, do I want to afford the 540i, no.

    Best Regards,
  • marcnycmarcnyc Posts: 17
    I'm interested in a new 530i, but am concerned about the notorious door rattling problems I've been hearing about. Is this still a problem and how widespread is it? Thanks.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    snagiel... Think you're wrong to say a no-option 540iA is "bare bones". The standard equipment list is quite extensive. That is why everyone adds Premium Pkg to 530i. It adds all those "goodies" which are standard on 540i.

    Do you have a copy of the 2002 BMW full color 86 page 5 Series brochure? The detailed Equipment listing charts runs on pages 66-69. Both 530i and 540i come with standard automatic climate control; however, the 530i Premium Package does NOT come with the 540i's standard "automatic ventilation system (can be programmed to ventilate the car when parked"." This can only be had in 530i when "included with optional on-board navigation system." And the 530i Premium Package lists "upgraded on-board computer" but that appears to be different than the listing for the standard expanded 540i MID which covers "MID incorporating audio and accessory phone controls; upgraded on-board computer, and Check Control vehicle monitoring system". This is only an equipment item for 540i; no mention of it being optional with 530i regardless of package. But I'm just going by BMW's listing.

    Ya gotta have a sense of humor. My post made quite clear that the chart put together by habitat1 and myself were completely subjective. That was the point of my chart. And mine was deliberately intended to be comical. Didn't you catch the SPINAL TAP reference? Guessing maybe you haven't seen the movie.

    Check out the published acceleration figures for M5 vs 540iM and 540iA vs 530iA/M. Believe the gap between the former is less than the gap between the latter.

    shipo... As I've said before, this discussion about cost comparisons is really between the 540iA and 530iA, not the 540iM and 530iM. Mea culpa as regards the "SP" in your post. If we're comparing 540iM to 530iM Sport, then question is whether the differences in performance are significant to warrant the differences in dough. Might not be for many in new car comparison, but could be for CPO comparison. Was for me.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Happened to notice a one-page article in the new 2/02 issue of Motor Trend discussing "Pre Owned '97-'01 BMW 5 Series". Page 120. Sub-heading is "Still the textbook definition of 'midsized sport sedan." Focus is on '98s. They say there were few major problems. 528i had occasional failure of VANOS solenoid. Makes mention of need for front AND rear wheel alignments. Praises "bulletproof powertrains", suspension, and styling. Dislikes are cost, lack of interior cubby space, and "uhhh". I concur. Get CPO and ya gotta great used car, regardless of whether it is I-6 or V-8, manual or automatic.
  • jim52jim52 Posts: 161
    Thanks for the info. How hard was it to get them down to 3K under MSRP? Do you think it was an end of year thing or are they just more aggressive than other NE dealers?
  • The big difference in the two engines is the 110 additional foot-pounds of torque the V-8 has over the 6 banger.
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    riez: I am a 540i 6-speed owner, too (2000). As much as I would defend the honor of a 540i, it is not anywhere near the performance of an M5, no matter what the published 0-60 stats say. Anyone who has had the pleasure of driving an M5 knows that at 60-70 mph in 3rd (or 4th) gear, it will snap your head off if you hit the accelerator too hard. It will also stretch your jowls going around a corner - just make sure there is no water on the road.

    I got the 540i 6-speed in 2000 because it offered a lot more performance than the 528i. If I were to make a purchase decision today, it would be much tougher. In fact, I would probably hold out if at all possible for the new 5-series to see how they "spread" the price performance trade-off. I have driven and ridden in a business associate's 2002 530i 5-speed and agree with the above comments that it is a lot closer to the 540i than used to be the case (of course, I don't admit that to him).

    I strongly suggest to everyone trying to decide between 5-series models to extensively test drive them for yourself if possible. Car magazine "0-60" and 1/4 mile stats are mostly for window shoppers and wannabes that can't afford to actually buy the cars that they read about. Your own butt should be the determining factor. And, IMHO, there is no right or wrong 5-series choice. They are all top of their class cars.
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    Shipo, your position on the 530 vs. the 540 reminds me a lot of my position on the 3-series board - remember those heated discussion we had last spring about whether it's worth to pay the price difference to upgrade from a 325 to a 330? It's all very subjective but to me, a 530 manual would be plenty of power for everyday spirited driving. If you get an auto (I know you never will) and/or have a lot of passengers/luggage in the car frequently, then the upgrade to the 540 would be worth it.

    riez - I love the 5 to 13 scale - that's some creative stuff!! You should be working for an ad agency, especially with all the Superbowl commercials coming up :o)
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    brave1heart... Guessing maybe you saw the movie "SPINAL TAP"? The 540iM does "go to eleven" on a 10 scale.

    epn2... Maybe the M5 then takes it to the next dimension where Einsteins tread on a metaphysical astral plain? I'd love to take an M5 out for a spin. But am afraid I'd fall so much in love that I'd do a Thelma & Louise escape or sell house, wife, & kids to buy!
  • brave1heartbrave1heart Posts: 2,698
    "Your rating scale goes up to 13?!?"
    "Why not make 13 10?"
    "Because 13 is 3 more than 10" :o)

    I think many of us have considered selling the house, wife, & kids but we still come up short for an M5. I am monitoring their market value and if it comes close to an M5's, I would consider robbing the pizza delivery truck to make up the difference :o)
  • I have to admit to getting a great chuckle regarding all of the postings regarding the 530i/540i comparisons. Either way you end up with a great car !

    We just completed the process of evaluating and purchasing (ordering) our first car together a 2002 530i 5-speed manual Sterling Grey with Grey interior. I have been contemplating this purchase for almost 17 years (since my last purchase) so we had the list down to the Audi A6 2.7T and a BMW 5 Series. After test driving both (try fining an A6 2.7T 6-speed manual to drive) cars we both choose the BMW. I knew that the 530i was probably the way to go and we confirmed this with a back-to-back test drive between the 525i and the 530i. We learned that we could also build a "better" 530i that we could enjoy more than a 525i over a long term ownership period of ten years or more.

    After determining our options (pp, sp, xenon's, folding rear seats, pdc, cwp and premium sound) I did look at a comparable 540i 6-speed. That car would cost us $9,950 more (M wheels, cwp, folding rear seats, pdc, gas guzzler tax and premium sound) on the sticker price, more insurance, more gas and more car than we really need. Don't get me wrong as I consider myself a "car guy" (one with other expensive hobbies) and know from driving the 540i 6-speed and a M5 that there is nothing more entertaining to drive than a car with more displacement. If we had won the lottery then none of this logic would apply and I would have bought an M5, a Porsche 996 etc. a long time ago !

    The bottom line for us is that we got what we wanted at a price we could afford (almost) and look forward many years of great driving experiences along the way.
  • rgwlrgwl Posts: 9
    I just bought a 2002 530i . Great Car. After the warranty period , what can I expect the yearly maint/repair costs for the car to be on avg. ?
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    It's tough to estimate these things, but generally speaking you may want to consider quality after-market extended warranties. I've heard more than one repeat-BMW owner recommend never to own a Bimmer not under warranty, and I think there's good logic in that. While I wouldn't expect the car to fall apart like an old Jaguar, even many reasonable wear & tear items (brakes, clutch, electrical snafus, radiator, suspension bits, etc.) can add up pretty fast. I'm not sure how extensive those warranties cover such items, but I'd definitely look into it if I was planning on owning the car well beyond the manufacturer's warranty.

    I think you can do a search on intellichoice for the ownership costs they compute. But I'm sure it'd be a hell of a lot less than on a 540! (Just kidding, riez)
  • 6_speed6_speed Posts: 37
    This reminds me of the times when I was shopping for a 5 series both in 1994 and in 2001.

    Back in 1994, I test drove a 1990 525 and a 1990 535 (there was no 1990 M5). The price difference when new was about $8k, I think. The price difference after 4 years was about $4k.

    I bought the 535 over the 525 because of 3 factors: HP and Torque advantage and 'stronger' engine technology.

    525: 168 HP / 164 torque
    535: 208 HP / 225 torque

    On paper, nothing is obvious but I was won over after a couple of test drives, especially on on-ramps and merging traffic to feel the difference (i.e. kick in the tummy).

    Fast forward to year 2001. I was looking to replace my 535 and started looking at 530, 540 and M5. The M5 was easily $10k over MSRP, so that ruled it out. Had it being available at MSRP, I would have gone with it (of course after selling everything else I have :))

    So, it was down to 530M vs 540M. Again, the 540 won me over with the same traits - higher HP and torque and a V-8 to boot!

    530: 225 HP / 214 torque
    540: 282 HP / 324 torque

    Price difference when new was around $7k (sorry riez) but it wasn't even an important factor considering the broader grins I get from a 540.

    But I was also looking forward to the 2004 5 series iteration, and just like riez, opt for a used 540 instead.

    Had I to buy new, I would still have gone with the 540 for the exact same reasons.

    This is not to say the 530 is no good, just different strokes for different people. I'm sure an M5 owner would say something similar about 540 vs M5 to 'justify' the $15k MSRP diff.

    Bottomline is you get what you pay and you pay what you get (higher insurance, gas consumption, etc).
  • rgwlrgwl Posts: 9
    One more question, (thanks, sangiel) . I have the low profile sport tires on my 530i. Never had these kind of tires before. How long might they last, mileage-wise. I am usually easy on my cars.
  • snagielsnagiel Posts: 750
    The sport tires are fairly soft, so I wouldn't expect much longevity out of them. My 530 is only 3 weeks old, so I can't extrapolate an estimate from mine, but I'd venture to guess they'll last you 20-35k miles, depending on the usual factors.
  • They last 20-25k on average. Don't even THINK you will get more than 25k out of them, unless you love driving on bald tires. Sorry, that't the reality of ownership. I had 17" Z-rated tires on my 3000GT - paid $2000k for tires over 52k miles, and would've paid another $500 now if I hadn't just sold it. Now I'm enjoying my brand spanking new 530i with 16" tires - it's fine by me, especially during Chicago winters.
  • rgwlrgwl Posts: 9
    Thanks, Snagiel and Compwhiz. FYI, I bought my 530i only 10 days ago. Hopefully the reliablity of the 5-series is better than 5-10 yrs ago, as the consumer magazines/reports indicate.. I live in SoCal , where the weather def. will help.
  • john01john01 Posts: 246
    Is it "V" or "Z" rated tires on the 530 spp? My last set of V rated Michelin XGT-V tires on Integra lasted 57,000 miles even though the tires rated to go 30,000. I did not drag race it, but had fun with it, and was surprised I got that much out of it. I got Kumho at about 120,000 after Goodyear RS-A, which were not very impressive. Is it the negative camber on the Bimmers along with the suspension setting that only gives you such short mileage? I vaguely remember hearing something like that. I hear Porsche 993 and NS-X are lucky to get beyond 10,000 to 15,000 on their rears.
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