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BMW E39 or Volvo S60?

Author
Discussion

surveyor

9,924 posts

88 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Check out the Volvo size. It's more comparable to the 3 series, particularly in the rear. S80 is bigger, similar and usually cheaper to buy

soprano

1,466 posts

104 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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What's the budget?

charltjr

2,147 posts

99 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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I've owned both. E39 is much better for carrying people in the back if that's a concern as rear space is very limited in the S60. S60 has a bigger boot and a much more modern dashboard and cabin - personal taste at the end of the day but I preferred the S60’s interior.

The 7 speaker Dolby audio on the S60 (SE spec and above) is really good. All the E39 factory fit audio options are st.

E39 dumps all over the S60 from an enormous height as a drivers car. S60 is relaxing, amazingly comfortable (oh those seats!!) and a nice place in which to chew up miles but punt it down some fun roads and it's pretty average. A sorted E39 does the cruising just as well but is sooooooo much better to really drive.

They both have some potentially expensive problems, auto boxes are well known issues on both so manual is a good call IMO. I would say the S60 should generally be cheaper to keep on the road especially the T5 which is basically mechanically bulletproof. Both cars will chew bushes etc if they've had cheaper aftermarket parts fitted. If it's a family motor worth bearing in mind that in a smack the S60 is by far the best place to be.

Depends what you want the car for really, for me purely as a relaxed cruiser the S60 shades the E39 but I’d have a well looked after E39 for preference.

steve_bmw

1,505 posts

79 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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E39. Best car ever made, what's not to likesmile

ajb85

1,069 posts

46 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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hora said:
soprano said:
What's the budget?
Ideally 4-5k as a max. Definitely manual and petrol to avoid the diesel issues.
I'd imagine 5k would get you a late, well looked after E39. Good luck finding a manual though, it was never a popular choice!

EDIT: I thought I read you wanted a diesel, if not the case then a manual should be no problem. I would imagine up to 5k would get you one of the best examples of the old 5, and despite being an older car than the S60, it'll still hold its money much better.

Edited by ajb85 on Thursday 11th October 08:34

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ajb85

1,069 posts

46 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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hora said:
I can't get on with an auto, I use the gears for braking/slowing more than the brake itself. Plus I like to hold onto gears longer than maybe I should smile
Depends on what kind of lump you're sitting behind at the front though, surely? 6 cylinder BMWs have always been beautifully mated to auto boxes, and they adapt yo your driving style. There is also the option to stick it into tiptronic mode, or Sport, although the latter is only achieving what good old fashioned 'kick down' does. Manual E39s are a little bit notchy, and Volvo S60s have a huge travel on the clutch, and long throws on the gears. I'd consider this pretty tiresome and less satisfying than the auto.

The Crack Fox

11,165 posts

96 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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I'd take a very close look at an S60, many older E39s are sheds now, mine ran fine to big miles but I think a well-serviced S60 T5 Manual would be well worth a look. smile

kpb

287 posts

79 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Charltjr's comments are exactly spot on. I've owned two S60 T5's and an E39 530d - all manual.

The Volvos have their charms - mile-munching, comfort and 5cyl warble included but they aren't driver's cars. I even had a late 2.4 version T5 with the adaptive suspension and it didnt make much difference to the dynamics. Zero steering feel too.

The T5's in particular are extremely tunable if that's your bag. If so, go for the later 2.4 version from post 2004. It has the VVT, turbo, injectors etc from the S60R but without the frail angle gears and bore liners and an MTE map will take it to something around 320bhp.

In comparison the E39 I had was epic and its one of the few cars I really regret selling.

Both my T5s and the E39 were surprisingly fragile though.

Super Slo Mo

4,313 posts

102 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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hora said:
Ideally 4-5k as a max. Definitely manual and petrol to avoid the diesel issues.
The D5 Volvo's are pretty much bullet proof, so I wouldn't worry about that. If you're anywhere near North Staffordshire you can have a go in my V70 if you want to get a feel for what they're like. It's 10 years old and has 187k on the clock, but still drives nicely.

They don't handle as well as an E39, but that's not to say they're bad. Taken by the scruff of the neck they are actually remarkably good and you'll be into seriously illegal speeds before the chassis starts to struggle. It's one of those cars that improves as it's pushed, unlike many that start off handling reasonably well, but become flustered as the limit approaches.

It all depends what you want out of the car, for motorway cruising the Volvo's seats are sublime, and the stereo is legendary, as people say. There's very little standard fare that is as good.

kpb

287 posts

79 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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hora said:
T5 it is. MPG 'on paper' doesn't look bad.
Just to add, my 2.4 with the 6 speed box would give high 30's MPG on the OBC on the motorway. Calculated it was 35-36 but still not bad for 260bhp.

steve_bmw

1,505 posts

79 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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The auto gearbox is very nice especially while under warrantee, but as you can buy these big old cars now for a couple of grand and that will get you a nice one I couldn't justify a costly gearbox repair.
I always stick to a manual, not a lot to go wrong and it's not very often you hear of manual box faults in BMW.
Two friends have just bought tidy cars a jag xj8 and a 330, both auto and within a few weeks of owning them they need gearbox work costing about a grand each and that's not even a recon.

randomman

2,155 posts

93 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Think it's been mentioned but the E39 is the better driver's car.

However there is a list as long as my powerfully built arm that the S60 does well/better.

The seats are brilliant, I'm lead to believe they got proper back specialists in to advise on them (could be an urban myth but believable)
The engines are pokey enough, even the 2.0t is a 5-pot, which is nice, however the 2.4t doesn't use up much more fuel and is obviously faster

The T5 is very fast, possibly one of the quickest cars in your budget with the criteria that has led you to these two choices.

One word - RICA - A volvo specialist tuning company, buy a well look after model and you can take your:
2.0t from 180 to 220bhp
2.4t from 200 to 235bhp (bucket load more torque than the 2.0t though)
T5 from 250 to 310bhp
All for circa £450

Probably the best factory sound system at this budget (and a lot higher budgets)

Buy a manual and they are pretty much bullet proof (even the auto isnt that bad realibility wise)

There, I'm done. Good luck!

Davie_GLA

3,638 posts

103 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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I've recently bought an S60 D5 after 'downgrading' from an E60 525. First thing i noticed is running costs with economy in particular.

If i drive normally i will get 800 miles to a tank. Give it some stick and will see 700 as a minimum. Compared to never seeing 450 in the E60.

Tyres are another great example. I've just replaced all 4 with middle of the road level tyres for under £300. It would cost me £250 for a tyre for the E60. But to be fair here the E60 had 19" run flats.

S60 has great seats as already mentioned, brilliant Dolby stereo, more space than you'll need.

V12 Migaloo

488 posts

50 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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I've owned about 9 beemers incl one E39, and one volvo, the S60 D5. The S60 was perhaps the car I remember most foundly, it was my first diesel, its the car I miss the most!!!
Both are supreme motorway munchers, yes the E39 has better ride and may handle better, but I ever lost the rear on the S60 and never crashed it either. The seats in the S60 where simply the best I have ever sat in, imagine being cradled in gods palm, thats what it always reminded me of. The engine was strong and ecomonical. I went all over europe in it and it was as comfy as my current XJ, jag not jeep. One year I drove back from Estepona to london, 1400 miles, and I did it in 15 hours (with out counting the 3 stops for diesel), I still reckon I would not have been able to do that in any other car. I also did London to Monaco for the GP in 10 hours!!
I did appreciated the E39, it was a 520i SE, its ride was fantastic, its engine and gearbox supreme, it certainly had more kudos then the volvo but I miss the volvo more then the E39.... If i had to choose one again I think I defo go for the S60 D5.

Super Slo Mo

4,313 posts

102 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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hora said:
On the steering- how bad is it? I don't mind slightly numb but not electric' Honda levels of numb!
It's not numb particularly, just not sharp about the initial turn in point. I find there's enough feedback to be fully aware of what's going on at the front end. It's no where near as numb as say a VW from the same era.

Out of interest, I had a brand new 320ED for three weeks during August, whilst working in the Capital. That handled really well, and had very sharp steering. Oddly though, getting back into the Volvo wasn't a disappointment at all. Yes, the steering is a little slower, but the handling is still good, and it felt an altogether more sophisticated car. Admittedly, it's up against a 3 series not a 5, but still, there's a decade of different in age between them.


Synchromesh

2,303 posts

70 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Hora, I thought we had this discussion about you and your numerous 'what car' threads! Didn't you get a 107/C1 anyway?

In regard to your question, I've always hankered after an E39, but never owned one, so can't really comment. I have, however,had an S60 T5, and I've written a 1300 word review of it on the last page of my Readers' Cars thread, so you may be interested in reading that.

Davie_GLA

3,638 posts

103 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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While we're on steering - don't expect to do a U-Turn in one go. The turning circle is abysmal biggrin

Synchromesh

2,303 posts

70 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Super Slo Mo said:
hora said:
On the steering- how bad is it? I don't mind slightly numb but not electric' Honda levels of numb!
It's not numb particularly, just not sharp about the initial turn in point. I find there's enough feedback to be fully aware of what's going on at the front end. It's no where near as numb as say a VW from the same era.
I'd say it was about as numb as it could get, and just as numb as the VW I had which was built in the same year. That or maybe your just more sensitive than me, but I did try with it.

Super Slo Mo

4,313 posts

102 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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Synchromesh said:
I'd say it was about as numb as it could get, and just as numb as the VW I had which was built in the same year. That or maybe your just more sensitive than me, but I did try with it.
I guess it depends what we mean by numb. It's not particularly quick steering (which might be what you mean), but I have found that with VW's there's a huge sense of isolation from the road, whereas with the Volvo I can feel what's going on with the front tyres all the time. Ok, there's not a huge amount of kickback from bumps etc, so the wheel doesn't move around in your hands like a sports car, but still, I don't think it's numb.

Mind you, for a motorway cruiser, sport's car level of 'feel' isn't terribly desirable.

y2blade

56,026 posts

119 months

Thursday 11th October 2012
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The S60 doesn't have a lot of rear passenger leg room.
The E39 has aged very badly inside. (I looked at a few overpriced 540s)

Sorry not read the whole thread What engine variants (of both) are you looking at?