We've owned our 330i for a couple years now used primarily as the wife's car, but after hijacking it for four months I decided it was time to purchase a 'commuter' car for myself. After a lot of Bimmer research that covered everything from low mileage E32's to 2010 M3's I kept finding myself concluding that a clean 01-03 E39 would be best served.
While I've enjoyed the wife's car, for whatever reason, a 6cyl was never really a consideration. Even after reading the latest edition of Bimmer magazine where the 6cyl/5spd sport was the author's suggested input, I was still leaning toward the 4.4L/6spd. I suppose my subconscious could've come into play here...I couldn't possibly allow her to own a car that could potentially outrun mine, right? Further research revealed that an 03 M-sport is 'the one' to get. Luckily, the article also referrenced a couple sites where our beloved cars receive a little bit more TLC.
Within minutes I found an 03 540i 6spd M-sport w/39k miles about 1.5hrs away. Viewed it on a Saturday (31 Dec) and was driving it home the following Saturday (7 Jan). I've only driven it home and to get it inspected so it's too early to provide a detailed comparison, but for now the E46 has taken a slight edge in the 'balanced' department. More to come for those that are interested...