The ’97 E39 540i Sport is a study in
contradictions, completely in-line
with expectations. I’ve had mine
about a year, and just crossed 72K
miles. On the whole, the car has been
a splendid purchase. They stop on a
dime, handle well, and start to really
shine where other cars sign off. With
the right tires and fresh clutch,
they’re a blast at track days, too.
Imagine that: a family sedan that
performs well at the track. Short of
an M5, I cannot recall another sedan
that can make this claim.
The E39 exudes refinement yet subtle
aggression. Sport package 540i adds
taut suspension, larger wheels, and
other touches. I find BMW controls
agreeable, others do not. 282 hp
propels it quite smartly. Stops on a
dime, handles well. Six-speed manual
abrupt but quite fun.
Predicable failure points: radiator,
water pump, minor electrical issues.
My radiator went with almost surreal
timing, at 65K miles (in-line with
most other owners). Resale value is
abysmal. Spendy to insure. Keep an
eye on tires and alignment.
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