This was my first BMW and I love it. I spent 3 months/12 test drives before I found it. I got the 5-speed manual, vinyl seats (still look brand new), and no traction control. So despite the smaller engine, it's a sporty ride. Nothing mechanical has ever broken. I just replaced the clutch at 125k, and the synchros on the tranny are starting to wear, but that's it. I would highly recommend this car to anyone, just make sure it is in excellent condition. Try to find a 1995 model - they're the best. The 5-speed is rare but well worth the extra time finding one. Everyone that gets in this car compliments it. The paint still looks new. My dad has always had a Volvo, but now wants a 5er.
5-speed, vinyl seats, RWD, smooth inline 6, steering feel, amazing brakes, near-perfect weight distribution for awesome handling, terrific headlights, sound system (Alpine deck sounds fantastic), manual vent controls, no traction control, close windows by holding in the lock button on remote control.
Power mirrors should have a neutral position so I don't accidentally move them; power window circuitry only allows certain operations to take place at one time. 2.5 liter engine isn't strong enough for me, but a good ECU chip should help with that.