Thinking about a new BMW, how much to pay?

Hello all, first time poster here. I'm considering leasing a BMW-5 series and was hoping to pick the brains of those of you who own one of these cars.
Anyone drove both the new 525i and 530i's? The 525i is really at the top of my price range, but I'm curious if there's a major difference. In a nutshell, would I not be happy with the 525i's performance?
Having never bought or haggled over a BMW before, I was curious how close to sticker I would have to pay? I usually start at invoice and work from there. I live in south Texas and we only have one dealer in town, so I may have to drive a couple of hours for a better deal. I plan to finance the lease through my bank and will do a pre-approval so I have some bargaining power when I talk to the dealer.
Suggestions, comments, help??
Regards, Jack
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There are several things you should know about the 5-series. 1) the 525i is not a particularly fast car - especially compared to a Camry V6 or Lexus ES330 or similar. 2) BMW will probably be dropping the new engines with the new Valvetronic into the 5-series. You should wait for that, since the 2.5l is actually a de-tuned 3.0l engine with 215hp (vs. the current 2.5l 180hp) 3) You will really notice a difference between any 2.5l and 3.0l engine. 4) The 530i has more standard equipment than the 525i.

Unfortunately, the 525i is the low model, and the invoice/msrp spread is smaller so you won't be able to dicker too much. $1,000-2,000 off MSRP is doable, perhaps more now with the soft car market. Choose a car with enamel paint and leatherette to keep the car low-priced. Don't buy the premium sound system - it's probably not worth it.
Floyd
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wrote

Reflecting on Floyd's cogent comments, is there a compelling reason not to consider the 3 series? As there are major changes in the 2006 3 series models, I would think that either a 2005 325i or 330i might turn out to be a better choice for you.
Tom
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I agree. Test drive a 2006 325i and 330i. Then drive a 525i. Ask yourself which is better and is the 5-series higher price worth it (if any) the price increase. Performance-wise, the 330i is all over the 525i. Also, later on you may purchase it and could add things on to personalize it to your wishes.
I agree the stereo is not worth any upgrade from the dealer. Get the standard radio and upgrade at a good stereo shop if you want more and are willing to pay. Blauplunk make great upgrades.
-David in Sugar Land, TX
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Upgrading in newer cars like this is much more difficult than the older cars with standard DIN size radios. Beside the fact that you need a funky plastic filler to fit the aftermarket radio, you'll also loose the steering wheel controls. Also with all of the electronics in these cars, do you really want to be cutting into any wires and potentially voiding the warranty?
As far as sound quality goes, you really need to listen to the upgraded stereo in the new 3. Logic7 was created by Lexicon. Lexicon is primarily a Pro audio company that makes the gear used in studios to record and master music recordings. They happen to also make multi-thousand dollar home audio gear. Most importantly, they have an actual engineering staff that has years of research into acoustics and sound recording and reproduction. See their website www.lexicon.com/logic7/index.asp for info and Dr David Greisinger's (the primary creator of Logic7) website http://www.world.std.com/%7Egriesngr/ for more info on sound recording and multichannel reproduction than you ever wanted to know.
Basically, the L7 system in the new 3 is no Bose (no highs, no lows, it must be Bose) upgrade that the other manufacturers try to rip you off with. It's designed specifically for that car by an audio company with real credentials and even an Emmy award. Make sure you give it a listen before writing it off.
Kyle. 98 740iL 97 M3 Lexicon MC-1 home theater processor with L7 (among other toys)
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does perform better because it is smaller and lighter. Jim
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