After seeing and driving the 2004 E60 5 Series, I immediately leased the last 2003 E39 540i at my dealer. At the end of the lease, I still didn't find a better car, so bought the car from the leasing company! Now after 7 years and 76,000 miles this car continues to impress. I've been fortunate to own many high end cars, but the E39 540i has been one of the best. It has pleasing styling, a comfortable, stylish interior and great ride/handling balance. Mine has had some reliability issues: door locks, power seat cables, and radiator, all covered under warranty or extended warranty. I know this can be an expensive car to fix as it ages and I should replace is soon, but with what?
Torquey V8, supple ride, decent handling. Styling, comfortable seats and driving position.
The transmission programming could be better, full throttle shifts are slow, particularly the 1-2 shift. Plastic radiator tank should be aluminum. Door seals tend to creak and the fix is elusive, could be improved.