I have driven every car under the sun except for maybe the Bugatti's and McLaren Merc. This is a total favorite. I owned a 1995 version which had some electrical and suspension problems. This 1999 version is a beast with refinement and awesome handling. I grew up with a test engineer father and we absolutely thrash our cars. This 540i holds up better than any vehicle I have tried to thrash. I have owned Australian racing Toranas, several Subarus, a few BMW (540i, 3 series) and a Lotus Espirit (twin turbo). Overall this is the best machine I have had the pleasure to own or drive and it's handling is 2nd to none in the luxury car stakes.
Power, drivetrain, handling (cornering) and internal comforts.
We bought our 540i as a Christmas present for us last year and it has not disappointed. It has the 4.4L engine so it's not great on gas, but the thrill factor is off the charts. Maintenance is not cheap but we didn't expect it to be either. We purchased it with 155,000 miles on the odometer and now have 183,000 and it still runs super strong. Highly recommended with the 6 speed sport package!
6-speed manual transmission, 282 hp, 330 lbs of torque engine, plenty of room in the back seat and trunk which makes it perfect for families.
Better cupholders and less smell from the exhaust.
The car's power and performance sold me within two miles of leaving the dealership for a test drive. I've had to replace a couple of parts but I've been able to do it myself. This was due to previous owners neglect though. Easy to work on (as long as it's not an electric problem) but some parts are a bit pricey. There are few stock cars that can outperform the 540i on the road. It's nice to have the power and brakes when u need it.
The handling, comfort, stability, responsiveness, looks.... ummm, just about everything.
Yes, the cupholder would be wonderful but Germans make cars for driving hence the "Ultimate Driving Experience" tag line.
Bought the 99 540i-6speed w M-Sport suspension 2 months ago with 137K. I didn't have the BMW bug until I went with my son to test drive one. A month later I bought this car. Doing all the maintenance myself. I saw the previous owner was spending $$$ on maintenance, at the dealership. The trip to work has never been the same since. Everyday I get out of the car absolutely amazed. Accelerates like a space shuttle, turns like a cat, shifts flawlessly ...this cars performance is awe inspiring. I am sure there are faster cars, but nothing will touch it under $50K. Something will go wrong, I am sure. When it does, I will just recall this wonderful feeling and repair her back to original ;-)
During the test ride the previous owner said put it in second, I was doing 60 MPH. So, I did. Still had more room to go till redline and 4 more gears! Excellent fuel economy if you can keep your right foot out of it which I cannot do!!! FUN TO DRIVE!
This is a driver's car. The cup holders are horrible. Also storage is in the door panels, center console is big enough for an iPod, that is it!