I'm the first and current owner of a 5 series BMW. The car has had the following failures - power train, tie rods, turbo charger, engine tune-up, oil filter housing, and coolant system. We've had the car towed twice and have had the car in the dealership a half dozen times for repairs. We've escalated to BMW USA but they have refused to provide any additional assistance. Save yourself the trouble...
My recent dealer experience was good as always. The background experience with BMW Corporate was unacceptable. My 2012 5 Series with EDC emits a crunching, groaning metal-on-metal sound that the dealer did a good job of diagnosing, but BMW would not authorize warranty repair for the reason that it is "characteristic." Exploding airbags that spray shrapnel, deadly ignition system failures, and self-accelerating cars are "characteristic" of other brands, so this does not give me comfort. It seems the ultimate driving machine is not backed up by the ultimate warranty. Since the defect is characteristic, I will find a class-action lawyer, who have their own unfortunate characteristics.
Got a 2012 528 M Sport, traded in my 2002 540i 200k miles later. The 540 was a 4 door sports car and I loved it. Negatives first - this one is a luxury car that tightens up in sport mode to be a great grand touring vehicle, but its not a sports car. Which is fine with me because it is my daily driver. Positives - WAY more comfortable and quiet, spectacular fuel economy (getting 34mpg hwy and 27.5 average). Love the interior (switches all in the same place as my E39) + large NAV screen. The turbo 4 takes a little getting used to coming from a V8 but it really goes if you push the pedal far enough.
I had a 2007 BMW 530i, a 2009 BMW 328i and now a 2012 BMW 528i. My favorite was the 2007. My second favorite is the 2012 528i. The 3 Series, which was a 2 door coupe, was nice, but way too small. I'm not a big guy...not over weight and i'm only 5-9. The 2007 was really sporty and in my opinion drove like it was a train on rails! The 328i drove the same, but again...too small. The 2012 528i is absolutely beautiful. It looks like a small 7 series. Only problem, is it just doesn't "feel" like a BMW to me. It is not the "ultimate driving machine" I'm used to. However, in sport mode, it feels much better and sportier, but it is bulky like a Lexus (which i have owned). Interior is nice.
I have always been attracted to BMW design (with the brief exception of the Bangle years). I was looking for a luxury car but wanted something efficient. I was hoping for a diesel 5 but apparently BMW isn't quite ready so I opted for the 528i as more efficient than anything from Audi or Lexus. I sprang for the premium and technology packages and added the heads up display. I should have taken the heated seats but didn't. The car is a beauty. I've had it one year. I wouldn't call it the ultimate driving machine but it makes an impression and it's reliable w/ strong fuel economy. Kids fit comfortably in the back on road trips. Electronics are disappointing compared to my wife's 2011 Toyota.