Purchased new in Sep 03 after driving 2004 530i (liked the styling, interior, and lack of iDrive of 2003 better). Traded a 2 year old Corvette. 540i only has 85% of the Vette's performance but is 200% more refined. The manual 6 spd was a little notchy for the first few months but was smooth after that. Seat and door seal squeaks were the only quality problems I had and the dealer eventually fixed/replaced them. One dealer frustration was they didn't know why my auto-headlights didn't work after two trips the the shop. I later learned that this feature is disabled when foglights are on! After 5 years I want to buy a new car but just can't find one with better styling or performance.
Performance, styling (particularly with M-Tech package), comfort. The V8 is incredibly smooth with adequate HP and good torque. Lowered suspension and 18" wheels that come with Sport package really help handling.
This car is the perfect balance between sport & luxury. Purchased new in 2003. Now have 95,000 trouble free miles. Have owned many cars from a cobra mustang 500hp to a honda crx and everything in between. I now also have a mazda speed 3 also nice. BMW makes some of the best cars for the money out there. Smooth, quiet, peppy, comfortable, reliable and nice looking. Runs better now than when I purchased it. Most of my miles have been highway. I get about 24 mpg with 70% hwy 30 local. I also enjoy driving the new and old 3 series.
Seats, price, silence on hwy regardless of speed, looks, reliability.
Being stationed overseas I figured it was time to buy a new BMW. I owned this car for 4.5 years, replaced all 4 rotors three times, also replaced 4 of 6 ignition coils throughout my ownership. All under warranty, luckily. Replaced the cub hold assembly, too easily broken. It's great to drive especially on the German Autobahn, but the headaches of maintenance were too much. I sold this car and after three months the new owner e-mailed and said the ignition coil went out.
High value for resale, looks great
If over 6 feet tall forget it, low lumbar supports, ignition and brake quality upgrades.
This car is beautiful comfortable powerful solidly made and enjoyable. The only problem is I am a longtime Honda owner. I admit a Honda does not compare in acceleration, stopping power, beauty or safety to this BMW, but on the other hand, essentially nothing ever goes wrong on a Honda either, and that has me spoiled. The beemer was in the shop at least 7 times for a leak that occurred in any hard rain, and has only been ok in that department since the drought made rain less common. Two days ago my wife was driving down the highway and the wheels locked up at 50 mph and refused to roll. She skidded to a stop in the road and could not even get into the breakdown lane.
Solid safe feel on the road, and best ever stopping power of the brakes. Great front visibility (but poor backwards visibility).
Don't design the rainwater to pass through the door before exiting the car. Tell people honestly that the car needs more oil changes than just the free ones. As everyone knows the cupholders are the worst in the industry. But the car is so wonderful when working right, I am tempted buy another.
I have a 525i sports trim for the last 4 years. First there is constant problem with the dashboard electronics. Some pixels keep missing. Also there are chronic issues with alternator and additional electronics in the car. It is like dying a death by 1000 cuts. This car stalled on me twice on the highway. Somehow I came out one piece. Each time a repair is conducted results in 500-1000USD tab and if you go to their dealer then God help you. BMW is a sleek and sporty car but sell it as soon as the manufacturer warranty is over.
Good speakers etc. Excellent acceleration.
Can't afford premium fuel. Lousy reliability of electronics. Most of the electronic sensors start dying after 5 years. Chronic problems with alternator etc. Very low clearance results in front hood damage at curbs due to very low clearance. Overall a lousy car and not worth it.