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I want a prestige classic that's also economical - is a BMW the way to go?

Just a university student here. I wish to have prestige car. The dream can be lived on a budget, I am looking at a BMW E39 and I am intending on modifying it elegantly. I'm looking for the most economical model, it did say in your review older diesels are terrible. That they offer the same mileage, as a petrol. hence best they are avoided. Does that mean pre face lift E39 is juicy? Would a facelift E39 2003 525d be economical? Alternatively, is it the case that the entire E39 range of diesels are low on mpg.

Asked on 15 November 2017 by Harry

Answered by Keith Moody
While the question you've asked is quite simple, I'm afraid the answer is quite complicated. Fuel economy should not be your only concern here. For a start you need to be cautious of tax. The E39 5-series was in production from 1996 to 2003 - which means it crosses two tax bands. Cars registered between 1 March, 2001, and 31 March, 2017, pay a rate of tax based on fuel type and carbon dioxide emissions. Cars registered before 1 March, 2001, pay a rate of tax based on engine size (under 1549cc and over 1549cc). So what you may gain in mpg by buying a late diesel, you could lose in tax. You also need to consider reliability issues - BMW's six-cylinder petrols are often described as bulletproof, while this era of diesel engines can suffer from reliability issues. There's also another issue to be aware of - BMW's aluminium M52 six-cylinder petrol used nikasil cylinder liners - this was an issue because in the 1990s, petrol contained a high sulphur content - and sulphur caused premature bore liner wear. Once the issue was spotted, the cars were recalled and replaced with steel cylinder liners - but you'll need to check the work was done. So the takeaway here is to decide what car you want and do your homework. Yes, the E39 is a great car and we prefer it over the Mercedes E-class - but if you want something German, prestige, and rear-wheel drive, you need to drive both and see which is right for you.
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