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New 540 6 spd initial impressions (very long) (archive)

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Posted by Greg V on December 07, 1999 at 14:58:47:

Well, its been almost two weeks since I picked up my 00 540 6spd, and I thought I'd share a few observations and solicit some comments and opinions. First off, the perma-grin is still there when I drive the car. Its been great, and I am very surprised at how smooth the power feels-I was expecting more of a torque-ish feeling, but I like the smoothness better, and because of this, before you know it the car is at 90 mph and it feels like 30 mph.

Ride: Another surprise was the smoothness (I know I need a new adj.) of the ride. For those who are worried about any 'harshness' of the sport package/suspension, forget about your worry. The ride is exceptionally smooth-even friends have commented on this, and I explain that this is supposed to be the stiff suspension. I can't imagine how the regular 540's ride. The difference between my old 97 328 sport's ride (lose your fillings) and the 540 is tremendous. I'm still not certain BMW went too far in softening the ride. I enjoyed the old suspension and the road feedback it gave.

Since this is a board of perfectionists, please don't let the following comments lead you to believe that I don't love this car. I do for all the reasons that need not be repeated to fellow e39ners.

Driving position: For the last six years I've been in two e36's (325/328) and became very accustomed to the dimensions of the car. Now I can't seem to get perfectly comfortable in the 540. It feels like the pedals are too long and my knees feel like they're in my chest. If I adjust the seat backwards to replicate the same driving/leg dimensions of the 3, I'm too far back to effectively shift. Who would've thought that with a larger car, there is less "leg room"? It is noticeable when I'm not shifting i.e., legs at rest. Anyone else feel this way? I hope I get used to it. Also, I like the black stitching and the thicker feel of the sport wheel, except that it blocks the dash. Too low and I can't see the speed or turn signals and too high and I can't read the MID. Still working on this one. The stereo wheel controls are great, though and much easier to use while driving than the standard 540 steering wheel.

Computer problems: I went to the dealer over the weekend to have several programming changes made. I wanted the daytime lights off, the autolock off, the chirp off and I purchased an all leather 6-spd shift knob. After about 1 1/4 hours, they managed to get the daytime lights off and the unlock alarm chirp off, but after several tries couldn't get the lock chirp nor the autolocks off. I was back in service watching them try this and nothing worked. Anyone else? The computer kept reading DSP fault, however my stereo sounds fine. And yes, I have the famous flashing MID. This occurs if the setting on the dim knob is not at maximum. I haven't tried the flashlight trick, but will. Dealer says no fix yet.

Stereo: For the stereo nuts, the DSP sounds fine, but definitely not worth $1,200. I don't plan on doing anything to the stereo, so I went ahead and got the DSP. For those who enjoy stereo upgrades, then pass on the DSP and put your $$ into the aftermarket upgrade.

Wheels: As others have said, the m-parallel wheels look great. I was on the fence on these when I ordered them, but I'm very glad I have them. Since I de-badged my car, this would be the only noticeable way for others to discern from the outside that its a 540. Save maybe the tail lights fast disappearing :)

Seats: The sport seats are VERY comfortable - much more so than the sport seats in the e36 (not counting their actual position relative to the pedals).

Color: I went with the Cosmos Black - and it looks great, exp. next to a jet black car. Just enough metallic flakes to give it a dark, dark grey color. I was considering Anthracite, but I'm very happy w/ cosmos.

Thats all for now - many thanks to the experts here on this board and the knowledge I've gained on the e39.
Greg V. CCA
00 6spd
97 328
93 325

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