Great value and overall cheaper motoring than buying a newer car many segments below, providing you get a good one that only requires regular servicing.
They are still dearer than an e39 of the same age back in recession. I bought a 525 sport 2004 in 2013 with 90k miles for €2,400. It had just gone 9 years old but it's the equivalent of buying an 07/ 08 e60 now. Bring back the recession!
Ok it was 2 generations back (e60, f10) but the e60 is 2 generations back next month.
Bought it as a stop gap, flirted with e60s, f10s and even financing a 330e last year but still have the old 5 series to this day.
It's like an old Corolla that won't die
I have an 08 523i se and i like it a lot. Got it when it was 4 years old and paid about 14.5k for it from a garage which was about 3/4k cheaper than the cheapest 520d with high mileage. What i will say is i had a bit of an issue with a breather valve or something which took ages for the garage to fix. kept going into limp mode. Eventually got sorted and has been fine since apart from needing a couple of coils replaced. Its a lovely smooth, very comfortable car. Very solid build as well, not a rattle out of it and its 8 years old. Mine is the 190bhp version so whilst not breakneck fast, for its size, it can move. Fuel efficiency isnt bad either and can get high 30s on a long spin....
I have a 2005 e60, 523i. I bought it four years ago and haven't really had any major problems with it (although I've only put around 20k kms on it).
The water pump went on me recently, that's the only issue. Apparently the cooling system is a weak point in the e60 and a known issue around the 100k mile mark (which is what my car is at).
I also have an issue with what appears to be a failed oil lever sensor (there's no oil gauge/dip in the e60).
I would recommend, if you are buying one, to have it fully diagnosed by one of these lads with the laptop and relevant software, doesn't need to be bmw. They can show up not only warning messages, but also if warning messages have been switched off. For example, I have a 'restraint system failure' messages on the car for about two years now. During a service, the mechanic checked the seat belts and said they were fine and reset the warning light, it came back on about a year later. So it would be easy to hide these kind of things when selling a car. When I bought the car I did not do this. I bought it from a garage. When I was replacing the battery a few years later, I noticed that the intelligent battery sensor had been disconnected, when I reconnected it, it was faulty so I replaced it.
I also wanted the 525i but couldn't find one when I bought (there was one for sale but guy was asking 4k more than the price I paid for 523i and he would not budge, same car was still on sale nearly a year later!).
I personally think the sport one looks a lot better and wouldn't buy a non sport model. I get around mid 20s in town and touching 40mpg on longer runs when I stick to the speed limits, but then the car is a manual. The car is very comfortable and is a nice place to be. Servicing costs etc have all been quite reasonable - even first service in bmw main dealer was not too bad.
Finally, I regret not paying a bit extra for an example with a few extras in it. In hindsight, having kept the car for so long, I wish I'd found a model with things like comfort seats but this is probably rare enough.
PS, if you are still searching for a car in a month or two let me know if you are interested as I will be offloading mine, new car arriving.
Great info - thanks
By the way, in case it's important to you, I think the model of car I have is 177bhp and not 160 or whatever was mentioned before. I wouldn't bet a lot of money on that now, but pretty sure.
The car definitely has plenty of smooth poke for a family vehicle. However, I have found that when the car is full of people and loaded (i really mean massively overloaded for a few weeks holiday in France), it can be a bit gutless when you need to go up a really steep hill if you don't hit the hill at a good pace. You'd never notice a lack of power under normal conditions mind you
Edit, I should say that I mean gutless relevant to normal performance, can't imagine what it would be like trying to get the equivalent weight up the same hill in a modern 1.2tsi or 1.6 diesel yoke