We’ve got a bit of a soft spot for BMW here at Not2Grand. And why wouldn’t we? When it comes to stretching out a measly budget, a used BMW will always deliver. A case in point would be the E38 7-Series.
But what if you want something a bit newer? And something that isn’t the size of Swindon? And, what if you don’t want to have the boy racer image of the 3-Series? Worry not, there is a car for you in the BMW lineup – the E60 5-Series. It’s handsome, in an ugly kind of way.
Okay, so it’s not traditionally handsome. But we think it’s aged pretty well – it certainly doesn’t raise eyebrows like it did upon its release in 2003.
It was a bold departure from the much loved E39 generation of the car. Designers Chris Bangle and Adrian van Hooydonk (best name ever) let their pencils go wild on this one, but not too wild – after all, Hooydonk was burned a bit after his ‘interesting’ take on the 7-Series.
Given the car’s firm footing in the executive sector, being so brave was a risk. But it was a risk that paid off, as the E60 went on to be the best-selling incarnation of the 5. Nice work lads.
The E60 wasn’t just important because of its looks though. It also came with enough electronic trickery to keep Steve Jobs amused. Active roll stabilisation helped keep the rear wheel-drive chassis roughly where you wanted it. Active cruise control was also a big deal, and made long-haul driving – where the E60 would spend most of its life – much easier. A Harman Kardon Logic7 sound system kept dem fresh beat pumpin’ while BMW’s revolutionary iDriver system controlled the majority of the car’s functions.
Sadly though, the iDrive system was about as much use a chocolate fireguard. You know those 20p grabber machines you get in arcades? Yeah, they’re more intuitive than iDrive. Needless to say, it riled up the keyboards of many a motoring journalist. But in the end, people just got used to it. Or they just drove around with the stereo stuck on Smooth FM at volume 56 while the heaters were on full blast. Small sacrifices.
iDrive notwithstanding, the E60 was – once people adjusted to the looks – a winner. Available with a range of engines from the hum-drum 2,171cc petrol through to the more frugal and torquey 2,497cc turbocharged diesel. It was, care of all the engines, all things to all men. It was also quite popular with the Police. Specifically the Police Interceptors, who campaigned it as a pretty damn effective pursuit vehicle throughout its life. Oh yes, many an E60 has TPAC’d a felonious motor off our roads. Normally with a Mancunian offering an insightful voice-over at the same time. Ahh, reality TV.
The E60’s overall popularity has kept prices up for a long time, despite the market being awash with them. Thankfully though, they’re dropping into the sub two grand territory now, and that’s a damn good thing. Get one of these and it could all the car you ever need. And, if you’ve got a hi-vis jacket, you can leave it on the rear parcel shelf like one of those knobs who likes to pretend they’re Police. That’ll inflate your ego a bit. Though really, every other road user knows you’re not a copper, so give it a rest.
So what’s your money going to get you? Well, don’t start getting excited about the V10 M5 E60 – they’re well into five figures. You, with your smaller budget, will be looking at a 520i or a leggy diesel. But seeing as the Government seems to have it in for diesels, you’re probably best off avoiding the latter. That or wait until you can buy them for 59p.
You should be able to pick something up with full history and bodywork that’t not been through the mill. Or a hedge. And for your cash you’ll get a safe, reliable, comfy car. Okay, so the 520i isn’t going to win any tree hugging competitions thanks to its thirst, but honestly, does it matter when you’re getting this much car for so little money?
This one had 50% off. #dadjoke
The main thing with E60 is that, thanks to the sheer numbers in which it was built, there’s plenty for you to choose from. Even with a small budget. And if you’re looking for a car that will last a few years, remain presentable and won’t embarrass the kids or spur a tut from the mother-in-law, this could well be it.
it’s a big car that can house the whole family. Get yourself the E61 Touring version and you could even live in it, the rear load space is so vast. It really is all the car you’ll ever need. And, because it’s a BMW, or the ultimate driving machine as they market it, it’s a great thing to drive, too. It’s no hot hatch, but it’s enjoyable. You’re certainly not sacrificing driver enjoyment, put it that way.
Yeah, you’ve got the usual caveats of parts being expensive, yada yada. But sod that, it;s a luxury BMW for peanuts. And everyone will think you’re a Police Interceptor. Possibly.