Below is an extract from PARKERS USED CAR GUIDE the UK used car buyers bible
Sporky - you might like to look at the paragraph between the 2 smileys.
The latest 5-Series, introduced in 1996, embodies excellence of engineering and styling, being matched only by the Mercedes E Class and Audi A6. It's a high achiever with such ability and maturity it doesn't need to boast. If you want an executive model that combines restrained elegance, subtle design, refined power and luxury without ostentation, put this car on your acquisitions list.
No cheap ones – Ł10,000 only buys you the earliest 520i – but feel the quality; values are holding quite well.
Costly BMW servicing is a must; fuel economy is good for a big car – 30 mpg from 520i/525i, nearly 40 from 530d.
It would be surprising if anything went amiss; many are under warranty.
:P Poised handling, precise steering; supple chassis gives a fine ride; tidy handling is always confident and controlled but slightly tame compared to the 3-Series; Sport versions have a tauter chassis. :P
Effortless acceleration from all except 520i – bigger engines feel languid as they deliver swift progress; V8 is vocal when pushed; all are refined at speed; 525d and 530d are remarkable engines.
Spacious cabin offers more room in rear than formerly; big seats are a bit flat; luxury environment; bigger boot.
Difficult to fault and distinctive enough to project an impression; subtle in metallic silver – the colour of money.
ABS; strong body; twin airbags, with side airbags from Sept 96; improved again in late 1997; top marks for Euro NCAP crash tests.
Alarm and effective immobiliser; a thief is very unlikely to be able to drive away.
Model by Model
All 5-Series models are rear-wheel drive with traction control and electronic suspension control. All have alloy wheels, body-colour bumpers, electric mirrors and an adjustable steering column. SE models and 540i add front fog lamps, extra interior lighting and an on-board computer. The 540i has leather upholstery (optional on other models). Options: M Sport suspension (standard on 540i), rear air suspension, park distance control. From September 96, the 520i and 525i were available with Steptronic sequential automatic transmission. Revisions in September 97 brought a multi-function steering wheel with auto-matic speed hold (on SE models), and DSC III Dynamic Stability Control on the 540i. From September 98, the 535i and 540i have Dynamic Brake Control. Further revisions in September 2000 included new grille and lamps, new 2.2 litre 520i, plus 525i and 530i petrol engines. Sport line-up extended to 520i and 525d in May 02, with M-Sport body kit, 17” alloy wheels, sports suspension and special aluminium and anthracite interior trim. 520iES (Edition Sport) from June 02 has metallic paint, M Sport suspension and steering wheel, 17” alloy wheels, matt aluminium trim, de-chromed exterior trim.