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Looking to buy first BMW (daily commuter / family car)

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Hi everyone,

Looking to buy my first BMW which I will use primarily as a daily driver to and from work (60 km round trip 5 days a week).

I also have a 2 year old son and 2nd on the way, so need to be able to get at least one car seat in the back.

I have been doing a lot of research (on both here and some overseas forums), and think I've narrowed it down to three models which I'd appreciate people's opinions on.

Maximum budget is $15,000.

I haven't had a chance to drive any yet, but in order of my most preffered first:

E60 540i LCI / 550i pre-LCI
E90 335i
E90 330i (the "sensible" choice).

Was just seeking a bit more information on the following:

1) E60:
Probably my first preference as a comfortable daily commuter (New Lynn to Albany - involves a mixture of full speed motorway cruising and bumper to bumper crawling) and spacious family car.
Within my budget I'm probably looking at either a non-LCI 550i or a LCI 540i. The 550i is obviously quite a bit quicker, but I've read that BMW made quite a lot of improvements with the LCI update?
I would never have considered commuting that distance in a v8, until I saw that they're ~20% more fuel efficient than my current Nissan 3.5L V6 (according to the official figures, anyway).

2) E90:
I was very tempted by the 335i but was initially put off by all the horror stories regarding the HPFP. From reading a bit more here, I understand that NZ new / Jap imports aren't as susceptible to this due to less sulphur in the petrol? In saying that, they're obviously a very complex bit of engineering. Everything else equal, how would the predicted reliability / maintenance costs compare to the E60 V8 (I understand they have valve stem issues which can be expensive too)?

3) MBI / Dealer Warranty:
I understand that getting an MBI is well advised (especially for the 540 and 335). Are the mechanical warranties offered by the 2nd hand car dealers any different than me taking out my own MBI policy?
Who are the best providers? I read Autosure was good - any others to consider?

4) Any other considerations?
I will make sure I get a PPI done by a BMW specialist
Obviously a service history is highly desired, but as most on the market are imports from Japan would these usually even have any kind of useful history?
Another thing that concerns me is the number of KMs that I do every year (~18,000). Say I buy one @ around 80,000 kms, am I just asking for trouble putting that kind of mileage on a car like these?

Any guidance / opinions would be greatly received. Cheers guys!

Nick

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you really need to drive both chassis and a few different engine configurations to see which feels right for you. the E90 is not a big car nor is it super comfortable. but the 335 can be very quick. The E60 is quite a bit bigger and more comfortable but you can really feel the heaviness when driving it.

if you want something fun I wouldnt look past a 130i hatchback (if you dont mind the looks) it is way more fun than a E90 330i sedan and a bit more reliable and cheaper than a 335i twin turbo. But it is definitely smaller in the backseat which shouldnt be a problem. The drivers positioning is excellent and the hatchback is super convenient compared to sedan. Alternatively you could look at something like a E91 wagon 325i (popular and plenty around) which is sensible but its not very fast. E61 wagon's are also quite good too but not sure about pricing on those these days.

How about the 535D diesel which is for sale by a forum member? high mileage but looked after well it seems and fairly priced too.

 

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Hi Kyu, thanks for your reply and insight.

You are right, I do need to drive both the E90 and E60 to see which one I prefer.  I'm used to driving a fairly large, heavy car (my Stagea wagon), so I think even the E60 will feel light and nimble in comparison.

I hadn't considered the 130i - I must admit that I'm not usually into hatchbacks, but they look OK with the M Sport kit. I will add to my "to drive" list. What makes them more fun than the sedan...their additional peppiness due to the lighter weight?

I would probably find the E91 325i a bit slow, plus after coming from a wagon I'm keen to get a sedan (+ have managed to convince the wife to get a wagon, should, we need to haul anything).

While a diesel is probably a very sensible / practical choice, given  my commute, I think I'm dead set on experiencing a free-revving BMW I6 / V8 petrol engine :-)

One thing that I need to consider is maintenance costs. I'm under no illusion that neither an E60 LCI 540i or E90 335i will be cheap to run, but would one be significantly more than the other? That will be something for me to consider, given the miles I'll be putting on it.

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The 130i has a slightly different version of the 3L engine compared to the E90. The first thing is, a 330i is quite rare especially in msport whilst the 130i is much more common.

It drives and handles well probably due to the 50/50 weight distribution and nice chassis and is definitely more of a sporty feeling car than the sedan which is more "sensible"

The E91 is definitely not a fast car so maybe give it a miss.

The E60 540i/545i/550i is definitely nice, maybe this is the way you want to go, big engine, fuel guzzling but comfortable and powerful. Lots of E60 owners here and they seem to love them.

The E9x 335i is a light and powerful twin turbo but you might want to be careful of the maintenance costs associated with owning a turbo car.

 

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Hey Nick - lots of good advice from Kyu and I think you're approaching this the right way. I think people tend to fall into 3-series or 5-series 'types' and you'll have a preference one way or the other - especially after some test drives.

PPI + Autosure = good plan. :)

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Buy an NZ New e91 330i from Wellington... but seriously - I agree with most of what Kyu says, but most importantly; drive a few different cars/chassis/engines and that'll (hopefully) give you an idea as to what suits your needs, and your taste. Then get the best (or best enough) of that within your budget and what's available 😁

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+1, though it must be recognised that a 130i is not a family car in any measure;  particularly alongside a Stagea (which is also commonly known as Starship due to it's galactic capacity).  Other than a round-town shopping cart with two sub five-year old children in tow, the 130i will not work.  I think a 1er anything is likely to be too much of a shock, unless the car mix changes completely and 'Dad's car' is for work commuting only, and has no family duties to attend to.

An e60 will be a quantum leap after the Nissan in terms of ride and handling**, still features 50:50 weight distribution (uncertain about the Diesel), and will do duty as a family car, and will be damned comfortable for your daily commute.  I commuted mine 80-90kms round trip per day and returned around 11.5l/100km, extra urban, and found it a really nice place to be.  Previously I'd done a very similar trip in my e46 325i, and although still enjoyed the journey, was not as relaxed as in the e60.  YMMV.

The key thing will be to figure out which chassis is most appropriate - e9x or e6x, and go from there to find your powertrain combo.  You can find NZ-new 330 e90 with Motorsport, though it'll take a while to find a good solid un-molested example.  No reason a 335i shouldn't be workable, particularly if you develop a good relationship with an independent workshop (or BMW dealership) and have a solid MBI to back up your maintenance bills and help mitigate the risk,

E60 your main areas to consider - again, covered by MBI providing you're taking care of solid maintenance - are the V8 Valve Stem Seals, and possibly the Transmission if it's not serviced.  The trans is the same as that used in the e9x, just has a bigger torque rating.  They both require maintenance, ignore the 'sealed for life' philosophy. You can find a sheet online called "so you've bought an e60" (or similar) that is regularly updated and well worthwhile.  They're (BMW's) all going to reward you with a good driving experience, leak a little oil, and take your wallet for the occasional night out only without the hangover, but a bunch of parts and service receipts as evidence.  You can't run them like Camry's.

**  FWIW I ran an A32 Maxima 3.0 for five years with young family; it was excellent, though not at all in the same league as a 5er (e34, e39, or e60).  Also have experience with the Stagea - great value.  

HTH

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PS:  here's the link to  "So You Just Bought an E60"   http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=731460

Current update of the doc is v4.4

Hope that helps.  

I'm biased running the 545i and e46 touring; just got my 545i back from panel beaters last week, and valve stem seals before that... it's just so bloody nice to drive.  Quiet, quick, comfortable, unobtrusive.  The powertrain is excellent.  You should drive a couple.  Watch out for black grit over the rear of the car.

cheers

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https://www.trademe.co.nz/1619210198

Bloody good buy I reckon for 9k. better get in quick though.

 

I think the E60 is probably going to be your best friend. It is very affordable now and plenty to choose from in heaps of different colour/options/spec on the market varying from 9k all the way up to past your budget. but something around 10-13k would be a good price and leaves you with a couple thousand left over to do some basic servicing like oils filters maybe belts pulleys cooling system etc and you are away laughing for a couple years easy.

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1 hour ago, qube said:

https://www.trademe.co.nz/1619210198

Bloody good buy I reckon for 9k. better get in quick though.

 

I think the E60 is probably going to be your best friend. It is very affordable now and plenty to choose from in heaps of different colour/options/spec on the market varying from 9k all the way up to past your budget. but something around 10-13k would be a good price and leaves you with a couple thousand left over to do some basic servicing like oils filters maybe belts pulleys cooling system etc and you are away laughing for a couple years easy.

Wow!  beaut colour, my fave wheels, and according to the service history, reasonably well-serviced.  And the seller will accept $9k!  You can probably live without sports seats and sports wheel at that price.  Bonus - has the second version of iDrive.  Just be sure to buy Autosure MBI.  You can buy direct from MTF Mt Victoria  https://www.mtf.co.nz/mtvictoria/ ... in addition to that PPI from a BMW specialist.

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Like I said, bloody good buy with those specs and decent service. For 9k you can do without msport flashy bits when it is a nice big engine in good colour and sunroof!

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Good buying at that

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Hi everyone, thanks again for all your advice.

At this stage I think I'm leaning towards the E60, however it might be prudent to drive the 1 and 3 series chassis too.

I have managed to convince the wife to get a (smaller) station wagon - so we will be using that should we need to cart two kids + a whole heap of gear (holidays or whatever). In saying that, given the E60s generous boot I may get to enjoy taking this on long trips instead ☺️

That linked 550i does look like great value. Unfortunately the money I'll be using to buy the car isn't available until a few more weeks (settlement date - long process) and looks like the guy is going to trade it in a week, should it not sell.

I'm also tossing up between the a 540i LCI (and possibly M Sport), or a 550i (non-LCI - these are out of my price range). Obviously, the 550i has a whole lot more power and the official fuel consumption difference appears to only be 10% more... although I'm not sure if it's that marginal in practise?

My understanding is the LCI involved a number of enhancements including Efficient Dynamics, an improved iDrive and better automatic transmission. The motor also received a technical update (N62TU) as well. Has anyone hear driven or know much about the LCI and non-LCI to comment on the differences?

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On 5/20/2018 at 10:39 PM, Olaf said:

+1, though it must be recognised that a 130i is not a family car in any measure;  particularly alongside a Stagea (which is also commonly known as Starship due to it's galactic capacity).  Other than a round-town shopping cart with two sub five-year old children in tow, the 130i will not work.  I think a 1er anything is likely to be too much of a shock, unless the car mix changes completely and 'Dad's car' is for work commuting only, and has no family duties to attend to.

An e60 will be a quantum leap after the Nissan in terms of ride and handling**, still features 50:50 weight distribution (uncertain about the Diesel), and will do duty as a family car, and will be damned comfortable for your daily commute.  I commuted mine 80-90kms round trip per day and returned around 11.5l/100km, extra urban, and found it a really nice place to be.  Previously I'd done a very similar trip in my e46 325i, and although still enjoyed the journey, was not as relaxed as in the e60.  YMMV.

The key thing will be to figure out which chassis is most appropriate - e9x or e6x, and go from there to find your powertrain combo.  You can find NZ-new 330 e90 with Motorsport, though it'll take a while to find a good solid un-molested example.  No reason a 335i shouldn't be workable, particularly if you develop a good relationship with an independent workshop (or BMW dealership) and have a solid MBI to back up your maintenance bills and help mitigate the risk,

E60 your main areas to consider - again, covered by MBI providing you're taking care of solid maintenance - are the V8 Valve Stem Seals, and possibly the Transmission if it's not serviced.  The trans is the same as that used in the e9x, just has a bigger torque rating.  They both require maintenance, ignore the 'sealed for life' philosophy. You can find a sheet online called "so you've bought an e60" (or similar) that is regularly updated and well worthwhile.  They're (BMW's) all going to reward you with a good driving experience, leak a little oil, and take your wallet for the occasional night out only without the hangover, but a bunch of parts and service receipts as evidence.  You can't run them like Camry's.

**  FWIW I ran an A32 Maxima 3.0 for five years with young family; it was excellent, though not at all in the same league as a 5er (e34, e39, or e60).  Also have experience with the Stagea - great value.  

HTH

Hi Olaf, thanks for your reply... some good advice in there. I actually just finished 545i showroom thread, great read! 😎

I agree that Nissan makes some really good cars (I've owned an S14 turbo, 350Z and Stagea myself), but looking forward to driving something a bit more "refined".

Interesting to get some real world fuel consumption figures. Could you please clarify what you mean by extra urban... is that mostly open road or a mix of both?

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If you can afford it the LCI is nice for a number of reasons and especially more so if it is a Msport spec with nicer seats, steering wheel, sports suspension and nicer bodykit overall. but that does not mean you should rule out the non LCI. just focus more on finding a well looked after example within your price range. No point to go for a high mileage LCI just cuz its cheap and no point to dismiss the well maintained pre-LCI just because its not facelift spec or not msport. 

I personally dont think there is a HUGE difference between the 540/545/550 but I havent driven them enough to say with certainty. They are all big powerful engines and any one of them should do alright. maybe just limit the search to any of those three models and focus on the other boxes it ticks.

Drive the 130i hatch, heaps of fun and awesome sound but definitely feels like a small car and quite bumpy sporty suspension!

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15 hours ago, Drift Tax said:

Hi Olaf, thanks for your reply... some good advice in there. I actually just finished 545i showroom thread, great read! 😎

I agree that Nissan makes some really good cars (I've owned an S14 turbo, 350Z and Stagea myself), but looking forward to driving something a bit more "refined".

Interesting to get some real world fuel consumption figures. Could you please clarify what you mean by extra urban... is that mostly open road or a mix of both?

Extra-urban - a mix of Urban and Highway.  More specifically, I live up the top of a hill with a wind-ey slow climb; it's slow suburban driving for 5-8 mins to get to the motorway, then pressing-on commuter driving on motorway interspersed by traffic lights, with another 8 mins of suburban 50km/h driving at the far end, 35-40 mins.  Done in reverse, more impact from late afternoon traffic queues and commuter asshattery, 30-50 mins. A fair representation of mixed-mode.  It's that hauling a car up a set of slow curves that really kills fuel consumption.

I'm confident that if one lived in a relatively flat and completely urban environment, and one kept the desire to hear the lovely wail of the N62 (or even the snarl, for a decent kickdown and foray into the higher end of the revband) in check, around 10l/100 shouldn't be hard to find.  On a long trip I would hope to find 9l/100, though am ususally enjoying the drive instead.

Refinement is certainly there in spades, though not without a healthy dose of sporting capability as well.  It puts a commode to shame, and has surprised drivers of smaller cars on twisty roads. Do try one.  Make sure you do a few pulls with foot held flat, leave the autobox to change up.  You should hear the change, not feel it; and gain some idea of what the car is capable of.  Though after the 3rd-4th change, do lift off lest you break free of gravity 😂 and attract the ire of the constabulary.  Remember, despite being large it's not so lardy, and is firmly in the sub-six second to 100 zone.

Let us know how you get on.

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13 hours ago, qube said:

If you can afford it the LCI is nice for a number of reasons and especially more so if it is a Msport spec with nicer seats, steering wheel, sports suspension and nicer bodykit overall. but that does not mean you should rule out the non LCI. just focus more on finding a well looked after example within your price range. No point to go for a high mileage LCI just cuz its cheap and no point to dismiss the well maintained pre-LCI just because its not facelift spec or not msport. 

I'd like to try the ///Msport.

It's not unusual to find a Japanese market 545/550 with the sports seats (instead of comfort seats), and the Sports steering wheel.  Mine seems to have had nearly every option box ticked, except ///Msport.

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For what it’s worth, my X5 averages about 15L per 100km around Auckland (including a daily evening crawl on the Southern going home). Open road like Olaf I’m getting down to about 10L per 100km. Best I saw was 9 around bottom of the North Island where it’s nice and flat near Fielding and the like. 

You would think the sedan being two wheel drive and lighter could do better than that. 

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You should bring the 530i LCI into scope and don't bother with a 130i.

The 1 series is for singles or couples that don't need to take anything anywhere.

The 540/550i won't be "good" on gas but are a nice car.

 

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12 hours ago, NZ BMW said:

For what it’s worth, my X5 averages about 15L per 100km around Auckland (including a daily evening crawl on the Southern going home). Open road like Olaf I’m getting down to about 10L per 100km. Best I saw was 9 around bottom of the North Island where it’s nice and flat near Fielding and the like. 

You would think the sedan being two wheel drive and lighter could do better than that. 

Hey Nathan - is that an E53 or E70? And I'm guessing it's the 4.8 :)

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1 hour ago, TermiPeteNZ said:

Hey Nathan - is that an E53 or E70? And I'm guessing it's the 4.8 :)

E70 4.8. I have noticed a slight improvement after doing the coils and plugs too. 

Edited by NZ BMW
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On 5/22/2018 at 5:14 PM, qube said:

If you can afford it the LCI is nice for a number of reasons and especially more so if it is a Msport spec with nicer seats, steering wheel, sports suspension and nicer bodykit overall. but that does not mean you should rule out the non LCI. just focus more on finding a well looked after example within your price range. No point to go for a high mileage LCI just cuz its cheap and no point to dismiss the well maintained pre-LCI just because its not facelift spec or not msport. 

I personally dont think there is a HUGE difference between the 540/545/550 but I havent driven them enough to say with certainty. They are all big powerful engines and any one of them should do alright. maybe just limit the search to any of those three models and focus on the other boxes it ticks.

Drive the 130i hatch, heaps of fun and awesome sound but definitely feels like a small car and quite bumpy sporty suspension!

Good advice, I think at this stage I probably will focus my efforts on those E60 powertrains. In the perfect world (i.e if finances allowed it) I'd have both a comfy larger 5 and the smaller nimble 1 series.

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On 5/23/2018 at 7:11 AM, Olaf said:

Extra-urban - a mix of Urban and Highway.  More specifically, I live up the top of a hill with a wind-ey slow climb; it's slow suburban driving for 5-8 mins to get to the motorway, then pressing-on commuter driving on motorway interspersed by traffic lights, with another 8 mins of suburban 50km/h driving at the far end, 35-40 mins.  Done in reverse, more impact from late afternoon traffic queues and commuter asshattery, 30-50 mins. A fair representation of mixed-mode.  It's that hauling a car up a set of slow curves that really kills fuel consumption.

I'm confident that if one lived in a relatively flat and completely urban environment, and one kept the desire to hear the lovely wail of the N62 (or even the snarl, for a decent kickdown and foray into the higher end of the revband) in check, around 10l/100 shouldn't be hard to find.  On a long trip I would hope to find 9l/100, though am ususally enjoying the drive instead.

Refinement is certainly there in spades, though not without a healthy dose of sporting capability as well.  It puts a commode to shame, and has surprised drivers of smaller cars on twisty roads. Do try one.  Make sure you do a few pulls with foot held flat, leave the autobox to change up.  You should hear the change, not feel it; and gain some idea of what the car is capable of.  Though after the 3rd-4th change, do lift off lest you break free of gravity 😂 and attract the ire of the constabulary.  Remember, despite being large it's not so lardy, and is firmly in the sub-six second to 100 zone.

Let us know how you get on.

Ah gotcha, thanks for clarifying that. Sounds like a fair mix of real world conditions and probably not too dissimilar to my daily drive.

I think (at least some models) have the real time fuel consumption gauge - have never driven a car with that so would make for some interesting observations / comparisons (most optimum gear to be in for different situations etc).

I can also totally appreciate how the desire to rev that lovely engine would often outweigh your desire to achieve maximum fuel efficiency!

Haven't driven one yet, but from all that I've heard it's hugely impressive what the BMW engineers managed to get out of a (not small) chassis.

Will keep you guys posted, for sure.

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I've found quite a good document that was put out on the BMW dealer network which details all the changes made for the E60 LCI. I've attached it here in case anyone else finds it useful.

E60_LCI_Changes.pdf

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