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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 5 Series > E39 (1997 - 2003)

E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 11-13-2012, 06:40 PM
andrew320i andrew320i is offline
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Location: Australia
 
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Mein Auto: 1994 320i
E36 320i vs E39 530i Sport for Handling

I'm currently driving a manual early 1994 320i, which has done over 200,000 km and has a good collection of mechanical issues. I'm not sure if it's had any modifications, the suspension may be a bit sportier that stock, but I used to drive an early 2000 Toyota Corolla... . It's a great car, but I'm wanting something with a bigger interior, newer, and safer.

So currently I'm quite keen to get a 2000+ 530i with the best sport packages (chiefly suspension and traction control) that I realistically get. Here in Australia we can only get it with sports automatic. Now how would I find this compared to my E36 in terms of handling and sporty driving? Obviously it will thrash for straight line speed (170 kW vs 110 kW despite 1575kg vs 1375 kg), but I do enjoy the twisty bits in my E36. Also what's it like going from manual to sports automatic whilst doing a big engine upgrade?

Ultimately it doesn't matter as space is a priority, so long as the 530i isn't a complete boat, but I would like it to handle as well if not better.

Perhaps a follow up question if the E39 handling would be worse, how much $$$ of modifying would I need to do to get it as good if not better? I'm guessing suspension, sway bars, tyres and rims.. is there an optimal rim size for handling?

Thanks!

Last edited by andrew320i; 11-13-2012 at 06:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-13-2012, 08:11 PM
granlund granlund is offline
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Mein Auto: -02 530 & -92 325is
From someone who has essentially both of those cars (ok, a non-vanos 325 is slightly peppier than a vanos 320), the 530 sport handles remarkably well for that size sedan, but in pure driving feel, the e36 still wins, but not by much. I got the 530 two years ago because I needed the extra space for a family and my wife had only one argument when shopping for cars; it can't be more than 10 years old. With a manual transmission, it's a bit cumbersome in city driving, but in all honesty, I cannot think of a better car to own for highway driving. Ok, yes, there is one - a E36 M3 4-door, but then we're back to the 10-year condition again...

If you get the e39 530 sport, keep it stock. The BMW chassis engineers really knew what they were doing.

Last edited by granlund; 11-13-2012 at 08:14 PM.
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  #3  
Old 11-13-2012, 09:18 PM
andrew320i andrew320i is offline
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Location: Australia
 
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Mein Auto: 1994 320i
Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
From someone who has essentially both of those cars (ok, a non-vanos 325 is slightly peppier than a vanos 320), the 530 sport handles remarkably well for that size sedan, but in pure driving feel, the e36 still wins, but not by much. I got the 530 two years ago because I needed the extra space for a family and my wife had only one argument when shopping for cars; it can't be more than 10 years old. With a manual transmission, it's a bit cumbersome in city driving, but in all honesty, I cannot think of a better car to own for highway driving. Ok, yes, there is one - a E36 M3 4-door, but then we're back to the 10-year condition again...

If you get the e39 530 sport, keep it stock. The BMW chassis engineers really knew what they were doing.
Thanks for the reply. I guess that's decent then - in the end I'm looking for a large car that's great for cruising, and also has quite good handling when I want to enjoy some turns. It sounds like an E39 sport would fit that criteria very nicely. Whenever I get enough cash (this car will cost around $15k+ here in Australia ), I'll make sure I know what sport features I want to have.

I'm quite keen for highway driving in an E39 - my E36 has developed some noise somewhere in the steering components.. the reviews of the E39 being too quiet appeals to me in that sense! Also the big engine will be great for it, and people will actually be comfortable in the back seat.

As for keeping it stock, I guess that makes things easier and cheaper then. I'd look at some audio/input mods though, such as a bluetooth headunit. Would be keen to get a Siri button working for my iPhone like the newer cars.

Last edited by andrew320i; 11-14-2012 at 03:37 AM.
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  #4  
Old 11-14-2012, 06:42 AM
granlund granlund is offline
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I could have probably made done with a non-sport suspension-wise, but the one dealbreaker for me is the sport seats. I have long thighs and the seat cushion extender really makes a difference. So much in fact that I'm on the lookout for a sport seat cushion for the e36, which has the standard seats.

I also don't think the difference between a 528 and a 530 is that big, so if the 528 is available with a manual transmission and sport package, you could look for those and budget in a complete suspension refresh.
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  #5  
Old 11-14-2012, 02:08 PM
andrew320i andrew320i is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
I could have probably made done with a non-sport suspension-wise, but the one dealbreaker for me is the sport seats. I have long thighs and the seat cushion extender really makes a difference. So much in fact that I'm on the lookout for a sport seat cushion for the e36, which has the standard seats.

I also don't think the difference between a 528 and a 530 is that big, so if the 528 is available with a manual transmission and sport package, you could look for those and budget in a complete suspension refresh.
Wait, do the sport seats on the E39 have the seat cushion extender? I think I'd appreciate it as I have long legs as well. I'm not sure what the seats are in my E36, but they're great - fits my torso very well. Perfect for keeping me in the seat around fast corners!

All 5 series here in Australia are sports automatic or just automatic, so no luck on the manual 528i unfortunately. The 528i is 142 kW compared to 170 kW for the 530i, so it's a fairly noticeable difference. Also getting the 530i means I'm getting a car from the 2000s, which is a nice plus.

Last edited by andrew320i; 11-14-2012 at 02:11 PM.
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  #6  
Old 11-14-2012, 06:12 PM
granlund granlund is offline
Officially Welcomed to the 'Fest
Location: Dayton, OH
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Mein Auto: -02 530 & -92 325is
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew320i View Post
Wait, do the sport seats on the E39 have the seat cushion extender? I think I'd appreciate it as I have long legs as well. I'm not sure what the seats are in my E36, but they're great - fits my torso very well. Perfect for keeping me in the seat around fast corners!

All 5 series here in Australia are sports automatic or just automatic, so no luck on the manual 528i unfortunately. The 528i is 142 kW compared to 170 kW for the 530i, so it's a fairly noticeable difference. Also getting the 530i means I'm getting a car from the 2000s, which is a nice plus.
Yes, the sport seats have the thigh extender, just like those in the e36. I believe that they are narrower than the e36 sport seat, so the typical 'American Butt Width' is too wide for the e39 sport seat and frequently mentioned as uncomfortable.

Were there no manual transmission e39 in Australia? A brief look on carsales.com.au revealed no e39s, only e34 and e28.
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  #7  
Old 11-15-2012, 08:03 PM
andrew320i andrew320i is offline
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Location: Australia
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by granlund View Post
Yes, the sport seats have the thigh extender, just like those in the e36. I believe that they are narrower than the e36 sport seat, so the typical 'American Butt Width' is too wide for the e39 sport seat and frequently mentioned as uncomfortable.

Were there no manual transmission e39 in Australia? A brief look on carsales.com.au revealed no e39s, only e34 and e28.
Well I have a fairly lean build, so hopefully my butt fits nicely. Just had a look at some pics of the sport seats, they should be fine.

Yeah after the E34s (and only a few of them), no manual 5ers were sold here in Australia (aside from the M5s if you count them). I'm quite surprised... none at all, especially when you do see quite a few 5ers around. I'm keen to try a sports automatic though. It also looks like the direction that cars are going so may as well get used to it. The new M135i is faster and more efficient as a sports automatic than a manual

Last edited by andrew320i; 11-15-2012 at 08:06 PM.
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