In anticipation of my soon to arrive 550, I thought it a good idea to write about my impressions of my e39. I have a 540i 6sp (short shifter, rear sway bars all sitting on Potenza S04). The car has 175K and is in top shape because I fix it every time something needs to be fixed. I wanted to write about this car now before my 550i arrives so I can capture my impressions of the 550 as soon as it arrives and contrast it to these notes here. So when I pickup my 550, I will be writing about my driving impressions using the same dimensions I use here.
How I drive:
I don’t drive fast to be reckless or show off. I drive fast (within safety limits) because I am wired that way. I even find myself walking fast whenever it is I walk. It is for that reason I always needed a car that can respond. I want great acceleration, phenomenal grip and of-course superior stopping power should the need to stop quickly ever arise. I want all those qualities in a car without sacrificing comfort and without being flamboyant. I bought a corvette z06 and sold it after a few weeks. I hated the car. It was too raw despite excelling on all the other categories. Perhaps it was too much car for me, I don’t know. I just didn’t like it.
Still I need a car that can help me accelerate around a slow poke who insists on hogging the left lane and speeds up to deny me entry when he or she sees me going around them. I need to have the power to do that because inconsiderate people really annoy me. I don’t want to give the impression I go around cutting people off but there are people who really are inconsiderate. I am sure we all ran into those people.
So how do I feel about my e39? The short answer is I love it. I find it to provide a great combination of performance, comfort, good looks and just doesn’t scream “look at me”. It truly embodies the saying “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” I will rate it below on the following dimensions:
The 540 is now 12 years old and I still find her to be amongst the fastest cars on the road. The acceleration on the car is great and with the 6-speed manual, I am really in control of the car. I know what acceleration dose I am getting 100% of the time and in any combination of throttle input for a given gear. The grip on the car (thanks to those tires
is phenomenal) and on ramps, I can take its car to within the limits of adhesion and back off because the indications are there for me to pick up on. I would never do that with the Z06. Perhaps its too much car for me or it isn’t as communicative as a BMW.. I don’t know. I just didn’t feel confident in it.
The steering on my car is great! I know I have a recirculating ball setup but honestly, I like it. It unwinds with the right amount of load. In a turn, it feels really correctly loaded. Body lean is not that pronounced and my seats do a wonderful job keeping me in place. It’s a joy to take a turn on a nice summer hot day with this car. I still do it with a 12 year old car and I still smile ***9786;
Now on what I call “duality”, I would rate my e39 very good. I can drive my wife and another couple on Saturday night for an outing smoothly and in comfort yet go for a Sunday spirited drive the next day on a windy road. The car can do both. Perhaps it is more sporty than comfy because it is slightly harsh on some NY roads. That and there are the body creaks that have been showing up that are annoying me.
As for comfort, I would rate it as good. I like the combination of a stiffer suspension and softer yet supportive seats. In contrast, I have found Mercedes E class to have stiffer seats yet softer suspension. I definitely prefer the BMW setup. When I take friends out though, I could always appreciate better absorption of bumps.
I love my e39. It fits me like a glove and I know what she can do and she has never let me down. I’ll leave it here and will write again about how the f10 compares to my e39.