10/31/06 — BMW 335i has the ingredients of 2007 all-star

View Archive

BMW 335i has the ingredients of 2007 all-star

BMW 335i (2007)

We revised our list of favorite cars the other day. A new model enthusiastically caught our attention.

You probably won’t be surprised to find it’s a member of the Ultimate Driving Machine family, the all-new 2007 BMW 335i coupe.

The new Bimmer makes plunking down 40 grand or the equivalent thereof in the form of a loan or lease as easy and palatable as supersizing an order of French fries from Mickey D’s.

BMW 335i, 2007

We can hear the hard core BMW crowd saying, “so what did you expect?” That might have been a fair question a few years ago, but BMW it seems to us has encountered some slippage in its pursuit of the ultimate. Or perhaps some of the competition has achieved BMW’s ultimate driving machine standard — until now.

This 335i, with its twin-turbocharged — yes, Virginia, we said turbocharged — inline 6-cylinder engine generating 300 horsepower combined with incredible driving dynamics, puts a high-gloss luster back on a brand that, while somewhat tarnished by its polarizing styling and needlessly complicated operating systems, still has plenty of shine.

The new fifth-generation 3-Series coupe comes 18 months after the launch of the all-new 3-Series sedan and features sleeker lines with a more contoured hood, different headlight treatment, larger taillights, a more rounded rear deck and a lower roofline for a more hunkered-down appearance.

It takes the Bangle-era styling to a new, more agreeable level using the best of the curves and creases found on the 5-Series and 7-Series, incorporating them into a handsome package from every angle.

It’s indeed a head turner.

And the skin is important. Styling does sell cars. But it’s the driving experience more than the gorgeous body that puts this newest Bimmer into exalted status.

This exhilarating BMW experience comes compliments of two turbochargers each supplying compressed air to three cylinders. This rather unique design eliminates the dreaded turbolag that has become synonymous with turbo-boosted engines.

And the turbo-boosting along with direct gasoline injection and variable valve timing yields 300 pound-feet of torque in a wide band from 1,400 rpm to 5,000 rpm.

Put the pedal to the metal and the result is a smooth, seamless flow of power measured, according to BMW statistics, in 5.3-seconds from 0 to 60.

Performance is accompanied by a low growl, music to the ears of anyone who has an ounce of gasoline in their blood.

As you might expect from a 3-Series Bimmer, the new 335i exhibits point-and-shoot accuracy with the suspension tuned to the sporty side of driving hard and fast through the twists and turns.

Despite the handling prowess dialed into the coupe, the ride is relatively civilized and should not offend even the most sensitive of behinds.

When our turn came to drive, we had to wait impatiently to really delve into the new car.

Rain accompanied the delivery of the silver 3-Series, and it wasn’t the afternoon shower, but a day-long soaking drizzle and light rain keeping the streets hazardously wet. So we had to drive sensibly for 24 hours until clouds passed, the sun appeared and the asphalt dried out before we could explore the heart and soul of the Bimmer.

We found it entertaining company whether on a straight stretch of asphalt or at more than double the limit on some 25 mile-per-hour curves.

The 335i offers a wonderful balance of power, handling, comfort and interior solitude.

The interior is attractive, but a bit understated. Beige leather seats, black dash and center console and a generous presentation of wood trim offered just the right touch.

We found the driver’s seat supportive without side bolstering being intrusive. That’s good because most driving is done under everyday mundane conditions that call for seat comfort rather than high-speed pampering.

As you might expect in a compact coupe, rear-seat room is tight and head room is limited. But there is adequate space for two normal-sized adults if they have the dexterity to get there and as long as the ride time is kept to a minimum.

The 335i has a rather spacious 11-cubic-foot trunk, and if more room is needed — for two sets of golf clubs, perhaps — the rear seatback folds down.

The 3-Series comes with a load of standard equipment, but there are enough option packages to push the bottom line toward 50 grand. Our advice, be careful and pick extras wisely.

For instance, we can do without navigation. And if you don’t check the NAV option, you will also be spared the infamous iDrive, which comes bundled with navigation. We lived for a week without iDrive and astoundingly survived the experience.

Even without that option, our test car was loaded up with such extras as the six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, active steering that changes the steering gear ratio — the amount of steering wheel rotation required to turn a given corner — when vehicle speed changes, the sport package that includes 18-inch alloy wheels and a more liberal top speed limit of 155 miles per hour and a premium package that includes leather upholstery and Bluetooth capability.

That brought the bottom line to $47,270.

For those who can’t stretch the household budget to include a 40 grand automobile mortgage, the 3-Series coupe also comes in a 328i version powered by a 3.0-liter inline 6 developing 230 horsepower starting at $35,995 including destination charge.

The 328 is also offered in an all-wheel drive package beginning at $37,795.

All 3-Series coupes are loaded with safety including stability control, antilock brakes with brakeforce distribution, a full compliment of airbags, tire-pressure monitor, xenon headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

By the way, there will be no M3 coupe this model year. A V-8-powered M may be on the way for 2008.

But who needs it with the neck-snapping performance combined with the 20 city/29 highway gas mileage of the 335i?

The newest BMW may be the all-star of the 2007 model year.

Jim Meachen can be contacted at meachen@mac.com.

By Jim Meachen
Published in Car Reviews on October 31, 2006 9:53 AM