By Jay Shoemaker on September 11, 2006

front-again.jpg Chris Bangle’s designs are still a shock to the system. I still cringe whenever one of the BMW's “flame surfaced” 7 Series hoves into view. I still shake my head when I catch a glimpse of a 5 Series’ mascara headlights. I still avert my eyes when any of his models drive past, for fear of glimpsing the rightfully reviled “Bangle butt.” So I was flabbergasted when I encountered the new 335i coupe in the metal. From its balanced proportions to its elegantly cut creases and demure posterior, it’s a stylishly conservative yet sporty design. Was Mr. Bangle on vacation when The Board of Directors approved this machine?

There’s another pleasant surprise when you open the 335i’s door: no iDrive. As BMW is currently upgrading its navigation system to include real time traffic reports, early coupes are blissfully free from the dreaded electronic verruca vulgaris and the binnacle bulge needed to contain its screen of impenetrable wonders. Wow, I can control every system in the car just by pushing a clearly marked button placed handily on the dash before me. What a concept! There’s even a cute cubby where the iDrive might otherwise have been.

0733_02.jpgAnd that’s it for warm fuzzies. The rest of the 335i’s interior is best described as workmanlike. The well-tailored leather, for example, is about as sensually satisfying as a business class airline seat. There’s also an unwelcome lack of attention to detail. The window controls are set too far forward on the doors. There’s a large blank plastic spacer covering the space for rear window switches. On the positive side, the 335i boasts the best stereo of any 3-Series BMW ever. Outward visibility is also outstanding; the 335i’s greenhouse reminds me of the old 2002.

The 335i holsters the world’s first direct injected twin turbo inline six. The 3.0-liter engine’s 300hp output slots between the 330i sedan (255hp) and the as-yet-unpriced and unavailable next gen M3 (400hp). So, for an extra $4k above the 330i's sticker, you lose a couple of doors and gain… torque. LOTS of torque: three hundred foot pounds of the stuff.

Fire-up the 335i and there’s no indication you’re in for a WWF-style body slam. The powerplant is quiet and still, in the great BMW tradition. Give it some, and the 335i starts as it means to finish: assaulting your neck and body with shove, shove and more shove. The great bugbear of turbocharged motors– a lag between low rev thrust and high rev insanity– has been slain, skinned and made into an attractive throw rug. The Bimmer’s blown engine accelerates from any speed to any speed with unrelenting urgency, without the slightest hesitation whatsoever. There’s little turbo whistle either– just a mellifluous resonance that morphs into an unearthly mechanical howl.

side1.jpg Everybody is going to love this engine. The 335i ambles about town with mindless ease, goes like Hell, and delivers unimpeachable fuel economy. (I measured 28 mpg over 50 miles on a green engine.) Before driving the 335i, I leaned towards smaller engined BMW’s, just to listen to those wonderful straight sixes wind out. So much for that, This motor altered my paradigm in a major way. The 335i's six-speed automatic gearbox is also a revelation. The aluminum paddle shifters may look like they were designed by HR Giger of Alien fame, but the transmission upshifts flawlessly and blips the throttle for perfectly timed downshifts (note to BMW: add SMG to the list of technology I can live without).

As you’d expect, the 335i’s dynamics are pretty much flawless. The brakes are a tad too taut for stop-and-go traffic, but they achieve perfection when the pace quickens. Likewise, the steering is too firm at low speeds but just right in every other situation. With less than 3600 pounds to toss around, carving corners in the 335i is as smooth as writing on copier paper with a fine pen. Despite run flat tires, BMW has cracked the code for simultaneous plushness and road feel. In fact, the 335i drives like a sort of gentleman’s M3: relaxed and serene when you want to kick back, maniacal and focused when Mr. Hyde rears his ugly head.

rear.jpgThe 335i is the best driving BMW I've ever driven, and among the top three automobiles, I’ve experienced this millennium. It's a killer app that simply spanks the competition. In case I haven’t been clear, the BMW 335i Coupe is the best way to spend $40K – $50k on an automobile and feel like you got a bargain. It’s more fun to drive than cars twice its price (650 anyone? Nope.). The 335i is fast, comfortable, economical and good looking. And if you forego satellite navigation, there's nothing to remind you of those “other” BMW’s.

97 Comments on “BMW 335i Review...”


  • Steve_S
    Steve_S

    Now if I could only afford one. That engine is going to be sweet although I’d give it a couple of years to let BMW work out the kinks. Also not everyone hates the Bangle designs. Some who would not have considered a BMW before would consider one now due to them. Of course other BMW faithful may be in the other camp. The 3, 5, and 6 series look great to me. It wil be nice to see the 335i sedan come out. Too bad the 328 is the only one to get AWD.

  • KWRussell
    KWRussell

    This isn’t the first twin-turbo inline 6. I’m not sure who was first, but Nissan started running a 2.6l twin-turbo I6 in the Skyline GT-R sometime in the late ’80s.

  • yournamehere
    yournamehere

    didnt the last gen supra come with a 3.0l I6 TT?

  • Robert Farago

    Well, someone should tell BMW. This from their website:

    “It features the world’s first inline six-cylinder engine with high precision injection and twin turbo chargers.”

  • Hutton
    Hutton

    The distance from the door cut to the tail is ackwardly long, they need to chop that trunk a few. I think this design would work much better as a hatchback.

  • bripab007
    bripab007

    Well, it is the first twin-turbocharged inline-six with direct fuel injection…just not the first twin-turbocharged inline six.

  • lwells
    lwells

    As others have pointed out, Jay has obviously misread BMW’s spiel. First twin-turbo i6 with direct injection… the qualifier is important.

    I measured 28 mpg over 50 miles on a green engine.

    50 miles, or 500 miles? 50 miles isn’t much of a test.

  • Rakinyo1
    Rakinyo1

    Nice write up Jay

    I was teary eyed after reading it the second time. I wish BMW could get the repair cost down. My only hesitation in ownership is how costly it is to maintain this “ultimate driving machine. Still a blast to own Im sure.

  • UnclePete
    UnclePete

    I am traditionally a normally-aspirated engine sort of person, but I am interested in this engine – if they put it in the 3-series wagon. I could then order a 335i wagon, sport package, no iDrive and European Delivery, please. Other than that, I’m not sure I will be selling my E46 330 sedan anytime soon.

  • Doogs
    Doogs

    I wasn’t a big fan of the coupe’s look when the pictures were released. Something from the doors back just didn’t do it for me.

    But this weekend I saw one in the flesh for the first time and…wow. The pictures do not do this car justice whatsoever. In person the proportions are absolutely pitch perfect. If I could afford one…I’d be seriously tempted.

  • lth
    lth

    I like the look of the car, but I’m still curious as to what the new M3 will be like. I’m a sucker for strong v-8, rear wheel drive, and 6-speed manual in a sedan.

    On another note, the interior picture is for an E46 3-series and not the new 3-series.

  • ChartreuseGoose
    ChartreuseGoose

    Man, that’s the most positive review I’ve ever seen on TTAC.

    Makes me wonder what they could do with a 1-series 2-liter four with the same two small turbos….

  • socsndaisy
    socsndaisy

    Am I delusional from lack of caffiene this morning or is that the interior photo from the last 3 series. I thought they redesigned the interior?

  • Tiger Commanche
    Tiger Commanche

    Lexus and Infiniti are getting more horsepower out of their naturally aspirated 3.5 liter sixes, and that was probably the reason Automobile Magazine promptly took their 335i to the dyno to test the stated 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. As many of you have probably seen by now, the car dyno’d at 350 hp and 360 lb-ft.

  • TexasAg03
    TexasAg03

    My only hesitation in ownership is how costly it is to maintain this “ultimate driving machine

    I disagree with the cost of ownership being high. Compared to most other vehicles, the cost is comparable to other makes. Also, remember BMW gives free maintenance for 4 years or 50,000 miles for everything except tires and brakes.

    I owned a used 2001 325i. As two examples, I paid $100 for the 45,000 mile service (oil, filter, and inspections) and $360 for the 60,000 mile service (new oil, filter, cabin microfilter, spark plugs, air cleaner, and inspect almost everything on the car).

    I also had a 2006 Toyota Avalon. The recommended services included $60 5,000 mile service (oil, filter, inpsection), and $260 30,000 mile service (not sure of content) and more expensive 60,000 and 90,000 mile service.

    So, for the first 60,000 miles on a new car, the BMW would cost $360 (the first 50,000 miles are free. The Toyota would cost over $1,500 for the first 60,000 miles, and it gets worst from there. My Ford F150 costs as much or more than either car. Of course, all this assumes you follow the recommended maintenance for your car.

    I think what usually happens is that BMW, Mercedes, and other luxury car owners tend to follow the recommended maintenance schedule and other car owners SOMETIMES do not. Therefore, there is a perceived cost associated with luxury car lines that really doesn’t exist. Most people I know DO NOT follow the recommended maintenance schedule for their vehicle. They change the oil and filter and that is it.

  • usa1
    usa1

    Yep. Wrong interior picture in the article. Too bad the new 3 series interior is actually worse looking that the previous one. Straight from the 1970′s of forgotten (for a reason) interior styling. It may look good in a $15K car, but it’s inexcusably cheap looking in a $35K car.

    Mark

  • TheOne
    TheOne

    That interior looks basically idential to my ’02 325i sport. I have to say that I have not warmed up to the look of the new 3 series yet. The coupe does look nice but the 328i with the usual option with tax is just over 46k. The 335i with the usual options and sales tax runs around 49k. Even for bmw that seems a bit high.

  • Robert Farago

    Text amended (first fuel injected twin turbo I6) and photo fixed (Bimmer doesn’t have a pic of a wart-less 335i).

    Tough room.

  • Sajeev Mehta

    Looks like the G35 still can’t match the Gold Standard of small luxury-sport coupes. Nice writeup, Jay.

  • passive
    passive

    Not too expose my Nissan-fanboi roots too much, Sajeev, but have you, or Jay, driven the new G35 coupe? My understanding is it doesn’t exist yet, so while it sounds like it will have a long climb to unseat this monster, I’ll wait to hear how well it compares, especially considering the probable price difference.

  • Sajeev Mehta

    Well ya got me there.

    But unless the new G35 has a boosted-V6 (or the M45′s V8) with a powerband as fat as the Bimmers, its gonna be real tough. Sure its got the chassis, but the G35 has a “peaky” by nature powerplant. I’ll go ahead and say it: its gonna be impossible.

  • Jay Shoemaker
    Jay Shoemaker

    I am eager to drive the 2008 Infiniti G35 Coupe. I have always liked the the look of the car (although my wife thinks it looks like it was designed for gangsters). My overriding issue with the existing chasis is that Nissan cannot seem to design sporty cars with a ride quality acceptable as a daily driver. I seem to bounce off the ceiling of the 350Z and its sister G35 more often than I care to.

  • Rakinyo1
    Rakinyo1

    I think what usually happens is that BMW, Mercedes, and other luxury car owners tend to follow the recommended maintenance schedule and other car owners SOMETIMES do not. Therefore, there is a perceived cost associated with luxury car lines that really doesn’t exist. Most people I know DO NOT follow the recommended maintenance schedule for their vehicle.

    Thanks TexasAg03

    I vicariously live through those who own or know someone who owns a BMW. I own a Toyota and other then buying an extra key at $88(ouch) I have no complaints as long as the maintenance is routine. This past weekend I met a Ferrari couple(late model Modina). The husband rattled off Maintenance costs that made me cringe. He never lost his smile though…ownership does have its privelages.

  • mart_o_rama
    mart_o_rama

    D’oh! Now there’s another car besides my S4 that can accomodate both the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in me…

    While i’m at it, are there any other suggestions for ambivalent drivers?

    Agree with Hutton, a bimmer 2-door coupe looks weird. In photos that is.

  • o_fizzle
    o_fizzle

    That’s a great looking car. I also have not been a fan of Mr. Bangle’s designs. But I feel that the new 3-series, including both the sedan and coupe, are improvements over the previous generation. I think the front-end looks especially elegant. If I had the cash, I’d probably hold off for the M3, but the 335′s engine is definitely something to lust after!

  • GodBlessTTAC
    GodBlessTTAC

    “Robert Farago:
    Text amended (first fuel injected twin turbo I6) and photo fixed (Bimmer doesn’t have a pic of a wart-less 335i).”

    just looked at the site. seems they do have a pic and its nice

  • doctorv8
    doctorv8

    Robert…

    Not to beat a dead horse here, but it’s NOT the first fuel injected twin turbo inline 6. The aforementioned Skylines and Supras were all fuel injected.

    The difference BMW is touting is DIRECT injection, as opposed to traditional port fuel injection with the injectors placed in the intake manifold, aimed at the back of the valves. BMW marketese is “High Precision Injection,” and the benefits of this setup are huge in the setting of a forced induction motor, among other things, allowing the use of a higher compression ratio for improved economy and off boost response.

    Also…it’s spelled “VerRuca vulgaris.” ;-)

  • Facebook User

    If it drives as well as it sounds, the looks should not be a deal killer. Although, the door position in the side view definitely looks odd…too far forward. The panel between the front door cutline and the front wheel opening is too short, and the one behind too long. Maybe it has something to do with the upcoming convertible version which doubtless will have a folding hardtop.

  • Rob P
    Rob P

    World Wrestling Federation (WWF) changed their name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the spring on 2002 due to on going legal troubles with the World Wildlife Foundation (also WWF, but now World Wide Fund for Nature, WWFN) over use of the logo and name WWF.

    Just FYI, this isn’t really “Cars” but does fall into the “truth” catagory.

  • SherbornSean
    SherbornSean

    “Put it all together and I have to say the 335i is the best driving BMW, and among the top three best automobiles, that I’ve experienced this millennium.”

    I’ll bite, Jay; what were the other two?

  • Jay Shoemaker
    Jay Shoemaker

    I am already on record with the VW GTI, Porsche 911 and Mercedes E Class diesel as my faves. The BMW 335 and the Mercedes CLS 550 are the two best I have reviewed this year and would slot somewhere on this list.

  • Doogs
    Doogs

    “Although, the door position in the side view definitely looks odd…too far forward. The panel between the front door cutline and the front wheel opening is too short, and the one behind too long.”

    Thought so too until I saw one driving around (twice!) over the weekend. What looks awkward in pictures looks balanced, well-proportioned and, honestly, a little bit mean in the flesh.

  • ktm
    ktm

    Sajeev, the Nissan powerplant is anything but ‘peaky’. Such a comment indicates that you have never driven a VQ35 equipped car. In the 350z, 80% of its peak torque is available at 2000 rpm. How is that ‘peaky’?

  • ktm
    ktm

    I am very excited about this car. It is making me consider buying a BMW again after my earlier fiasco with a 2002 325Ci.

  • Areitu
    Areitu

    As far as ownership costs of BMWs, I think it’s hit and miss. Edmunds.com spent a little over $2000 on their pre-owned BMW in unscheduled maintainence and repairs.

    On the other hand, and this story is anecdotal, a friend of mine leased an E46 325i (it was the year they went from 323 to 325). It had very few options: Cruise control, sunroof and a tiptronic auto. During his three year 36,000mi lease of the car, he went through three sets of tires and two sets of brake pads. In fact, the only major items on the car that needed replacement was a new splash guard (pidgeon @ 92 mph) and breaking a transmission mount in half while attempting to recreate a Scandanvian Flick in the middle of a Dakar Rally re-enactment. The very last time I rode in the car, it still rode and drove as if it was almost new, with the exception of clunky noises indiciative of worn bushings. This one was built in Germany.

    On the other hand, a friend of a friend, his 328i suffered from small electrical glitches and miscallenous problems, some most likely caused by the Dinan supercharger (and some by leaving a screwdriver on top of the engine fan). He sold it for an SMG M3, which as far as I know, has been totally reliable. I think this one was built in South Carolina.

  • bodayguy
    bodayguy

    I too would wait and see what the new G35 coupe has to offer, especially if it’s $10,000 less.

  • ktm
    ktm

    Areitu, my history with BMW was not as, shall we say, joyful. Within one month of ownership it was in the shop 4 times. The last time it went in the ECU died on me while I was doing 65 mph; the speedometer, tachometer, turn signals, climate control, radio, damn near everything stopped working. This was on a Friday evening around 5:45.

    I nurse it to Irvine BMW and they quickly scan the computer only to come back and tell me that, yep, your ECU died. “We don’t have any parts in stock and the earliest we can get a part is Monday. We’ll give you a loaner but you’ll have to pay for it on Sunday”……excuse me?

    The other problems were a bad driver side power window harness, driver side seat belt mechanism would not retract the belt, and one other item.

    Still, it was a fantastic car to drive and I thoroughly enjoyed my time whenever I was behind the wheel. My biggest complaint against the 3-series is that they were underpowered and overpriced compared to the offerings of Lexus and Infiniti. Looks like they finally woke up and looked around the market.

  • Droptop
    Droptop

    Drove one on the road course at Pocono Int’l this past week. Very good stuff. And quite the style icon, too.

  • Rakinyo1
    Rakinyo1

    Ran out to test drive the new coupe. It was much more then I expected. THe 335 6 speed demo is already to be sold at the end of this month.
    We drove out 15 miles and I never left 4th gear. Its responsive,quick and sticks to the road. A little cramped but Im a big guy. I believe Jay covered wonderful points, it you have a dealership near I highly recommend test driving one.

    The sales lady and I stayed out for about half an hour taking turns driving. She covered some good points on the vehicle.

    I have to agree with bodayguy, I would like to see the g35 coupe.

    Becky, the sales woman said for $2000 grand you can get the 4 year full service extended to 6/100,000 miles. Meaning you pay for no maintenance even when you get the car paid for.

    Is it wrong to hope that the g35 coupe will be bland and uninspiring?

  • Dr. No
    Dr. No

    The coupe is so much better looking than the sedan. The interior appears flat though, and it isn’t helped by materials befitting a Nissan instead of a bimmer.

    I’ve owned 3 series’ bimmers for many years, and my experience bears out those who claim bullet-proof reliability. Too, maintenance is free for the first 4 years, 50,000 miles, so I don’t quite get those claiming it’s expensive to own. Depreciation is low relative to other performance cars (in the top 10), and this is a key metric for determining the true cost of ownership.

    Financial considerations aside, this car looks like a winner from a driving perspective…no easy feat considering how well its predecessor performed. The bar is raised.

  • Johnny Canada
    Johnny Canada

    Hate to interrupt the Love Fest, but do any of you remember what BMW did to TTAC and it’s readers ?

  • Sajeev Mehta

    ktm: I drove a G35 coupe and you had to wait until 4000+rpm for the thing to get moving with some authority. Disclaimer: I drove an automatic, the manual would fare better.

  • doctorv8
    doctorv8

    ktm,

    “Peaky” is a very subjective term. To those of us weaned on V8′s, the VQ’s are indeed down on torque…but they are impressive for a n/a 3.5L motor. However, compared to the table flat torque curve of the 335′s twin turbo motor…the VQ is a freaking Honda S2000. Boost is boost…it is a replacement for displacement.

  • Sajeev Mehta

    Oh, and I’ll say that the Saturn Aura’s 3.6L V6 has notably more low-end grunt compared to an automatic G35…sure its missing 30-ish horses, but there’s no waiting, the Saturn is always good to go.

  • wharvey
    wharvey

    Nice review! As a long term BMW customer I am happy to see that the company has toned down the styling of the 3 series coupe. I had an E60 M5 on order but cancelled the order because of the aggressive styling, SMG transmission, i drive, and no badge delete option.
    Is it true that this car is being sold without a limited slip differential? Without a limited slip diff, the car will be worthless in adverse weather conditions and will be frustrating to drive aggressively.

  • doctorv8
    doctorv8

    wharvey,

    I agree the LSD is desirable for the enthusiast driver, but BMW’s DSC takes the white knuckle factor out of driving in the wet. It is actually too intrusive in my 2003 M5, intervening even on quick 2-3 shifts on dry pavement and pulling the plug on the power.

    I’m hoping the new 335′s electronic aids have a higher threshold for intervention, or the option to disable the traction control while maintaining the stability control, as on the Corvette.

  • Jay Shoemaker
    Jay Shoemaker

    There is a dichotomy to owning a BMW. First off, everyone assumes you are a jerk yuppy (I am still wondering what is wrong with being young-urban and professional). Lately, you have to wade past I-drive, Bangle-butts, run flat tires, active steering, SMG, etc. I think the engineers need to wrest back control from whoever seems to be leading this fine company astray. Oh yes, the PR flacks need to move on.

  • wharvey
    wharvey

    doctorv8,

    The dsc is intrusive in the e39 M5 but at least we can turn that off. The white knuckle factor you refer to in the E39 M5 is because the car is heavy and does not provide much feel through the steering wheel compared to earlier BMW’s. The problem with the electronic nannies is in the end you still have only 1 wheel drive. For performance driving and in adverse weather conditions the limited slip diff is a must!

  • doctorv8
    doctorv8

    wharvey,

    I agree with you, but unfortunately, more and more manufacturers are relying on the electronic bandaids in lieu of a proper limited slip diff. Hell, I have a CL65 that delivers DOUBLE the torque of an M5 (738 ft lbs) from its twin turbo V12 to an open diff. Amazingly, though, it launches well with the Mercedes ESP keeping both wheels right at the edge of wheelspin, unlike the all/nothing phenomenon of the E39 M5′s DSC. I’m sure the cars tremendous weight helps in this regard as you mentioned.

    The reality is that for most, modern stability control systems are more than adequate in slippery conditions. But BMW’s and AMG cars are supposed to be for driving enthusiasts!

  • TexasAg03
    TexasAg03

    I’m hoping the new 335’s electronic aids have a higher threshold for intervention, or the option to disable the traction control while maintaining the stability control, as on the Corvette.

    Unless they’re different from the sedan, you can shut off traction control while maintaining stability control. Just press the DSC button once. If you want to disable everything, press and hold until the indicator lights up in the dash.


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