This is an emotional subject and I thought twice before I decided to post anything. For me I like the BMW ethos. I like the way their designers think and the way the cars, in general, drive. I have owned MB and Jaguar. I have never owned an Audi and Lexus. I have driven them, (going to the effort of driving them for extended periods of time) and I do not like them.
Is the 5 expensive? Yes it is. A current well equipped 528i today is more expensive than a 2002 540i sport (manual with everything). Is this inflation, is BMW ripping us off? I have no real clue. However I do know I do not like Lexus (too fussy interiors, characterless) and I do not like Audi (generic appearance, fussy interiors - I am a minimalist etc.). But this is my opinion. As my wife knows, I drive cars, lots of cars, and BMWs make me smile. I love them. Even this new 528i which has its little 4 cylinder engine and funny feeling electric steering. I love the damn thing! As I said it is emotional. Any rational analysis would make the likes of BMW an eccentric anachronism and we would all be driving Hondas or Toyotas.
I suspect I am a mug, but then I do not really care. I drive what I like. BTW I try to buy towards the end of the model year and get the best deal I can. However my pending X1 buy is based on a need, sort of, still I am only paying invoice. So I reduce my exposure, but do not eliminate, the rip off factor when buying a BMW.