In Reply to: Impressions posted by Sam on December 12, 1999 at 08:18:46:
: I welcome comments about the 5 series. Is the 540ia really worth its cost premium over 528ia as a daily commuter? Also is the sport package a good tradeoff - handling versus harsher ride?
: As far as comfort, roominess, and connection to the road how would you compare the 3 & 5 series?
Having driven most of the possible BMW variants, I would say that between the E46 and E39, what appears to be minor size differences works out to major benefits in roominess for the E39. When an average sized driver extends the rear set in the 3 series for a good driving position, rear seat knee room dries up quickly. The 5ers are not big cars, but remain usable for rear seat passangers while the 3 Series become uncomfortable quickly for four. I also prefer the seats (and seat choices) of the E39 series.
The 5ers are more planted feeling (at the expense of some nimbleness) at speed. In my opinion, they feel supremely secure, which I like when I'm traveling any distances. Handling is still very satisfying, while the car has a weighty feel that is most reassuring.
I wouldn't consider anything but the sport suspension, and, personally, I love the V8 so much that I didn't consider the six regardless of the benefit in steering feel, which I think is subtle compared to the power differences. Not everyone agrees, some chosing the 528 and feeling as strongly about their choice as I do mine. Either way, you get a fabulous ride.
I would have no problem owning ANY BMW sedan for the long haul, but to my tastes, the 5er is the supreme selection, offering a great balance of performance and the qualities of the bigger cars, while retaining much of the nimbleness of the smaller ones. It's been just one year almost to the day that I traded out my 535 for my 540, and the satisfaction continues....got even better, really, as my car is now "shaken out", broken in, and performing beautifully. By the way, I have absolutely no Lexus envy.