BMW 335i Coupe 6-speed manual
What's it about
About five years ago everyone was scared by where BMW was heading. The launch of the current 7 Series got everyone talking and it was widely perceived that BMW had lost the plot.
But just when we thought BMW would take another generation to get its cars looking beautiful, the company has done it in one fell swoop.
Also, the fact that BMW posted record revenues in 2006 is an indication that it still offers "sheer driving pleasure" to the motoring public.
It is clear that the Bavarian carmaker is definitely doing something right...
And one new BMW product that is a showcase of its drive to success is the new 335i coupe. BMW claims that the 3 Series coupe is "The Ultimate Driving Machine". This is an arrogant statement to make, but then again BMW has always been synonymous with egotism.
But if you get behind the wheel of the 335i you realise that BMW has more than enough reason to be arrogant.
It not only looks classy, but this hot wheeled coupe has all the right performance car credentials, too. Yes, the 335i is good and it is all thanks to BMW's great new twin-turbo engine.
And this coupe is also NOT just a 3 Series sedan with two doors. BMW claims that every body panel is different from that of the normal 3. Some styling highlights include elements such as smooth uncluttered lines, an attractive front end with different lights and a power bulge on the bonnet, plus that clean and smooth tail with sleek-looking lights.
On the inside the 335i coupe is typically 3 Series with the same minimalistic design. There are all the usual luxury trimmings such as leather seats and a host of (standard and optional) bells and whistles.
The feature list is long, and includes bi-Xenon headlights as standard, as well as electric windows and mirrors, climate control air con, and radio/CD. In BMW fashion, you can add to this items as sat nav and a sunroof to cutomise to your own needs.
Naturally it gets all the electronic aids you needs, including ABS with brake assist, electronic stability control including DSC traction control, plus lots of airbags.
Our test car also featured BMW's dreaded i-Drive as it had the optional navigation system. Well, enough has been said about i-Drive and despite some minor tweaks to it in recent years, it still isn't straightforward enough. But one does get use to it.
BMW's otherwise simple approach in terms of ergonomics works well, and the uncluttered look is just a hint that this it is a car to DRIVE.
It's as if the task to BMW's interior designers was: Keep it simple. Furthermore, fit and finish of the 3 Series models is generally good and the same applies to the new coupe.
Under the skin
Thanks to the introduction of direct injection taken from BMW's famed diesel technology (giving better economy) BMW has gone the twin turbo route with its new 3-litre 225 kW 335i motor.
Basically this means a separate turbo motor for each set of three cylinders in the straight six engine.
Featuring high-precision fuel injection, the engine for the first time boasts a highly sophisticated and advanced direct fuel injection concept ensuring a reduction of fuel consumption.
A further advantage of turbocharging is that this is the most economical option to boost engine power and performance.
Put the car into sixth at just 1 300 r/min and this car pulls like a train, all the way up to its electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h.
Our test 335i coupe was the manual model, which suits the car's characteristics very well as you get an exciting quick-shifting experience. This is complimented by very positive steering with excellent feedback, and power that will blow you away.
The heart and soul of this new coupe is its twin-turbocharged engine and there's no doubt that this is indeed a very, very fast car. The twin turbos help this Beemer to rocket forward from 0-100 km/h in about 5.5 seconds.
You don't need to rev the 335i to get the best out of it, for with 400 Nm of torque, most of which is available in a flat plateau that starts at 1 300 r/min and ends at around 4 000 r/min, there's no need to.
But if you want it, max power is at 5 800 r/min, so you can hold your change to there, or you can rev it right to 8 000 r/min!
Although the engine is on the quiet side it does have a nice deep purr that should be pleasurable to the driver.
Then when it comes to handling, this Beemer is just great. Almost sportscar awesome! Feedback via the thick leather-trimmed steering wheel is amazing, while you also soon realise that the 335i eats twisty roads for breakfast.
There's hardly any body roll and the Dynamic Stability Control will kick in to ensure that the coupe keeps its poise.
More qualities that make this a great driver's car are a rear-wheel drive layout, direct steering, first-rate body control and stability, as well as a supreme suspension setup.
The 335i is at home around town too, and the stiff ride doesn't bother one too much in everyday traffic conditions. But this is definitely a car that is for those who love to drive for the simple pleasures it brings.
Although the new M3 will be the ultimate 3 Series, this direct-injection BMW is a brilliant all-rounder. Its pair of turbos kicks in with no lag while the power and torque are always at hand and spread evenly over a broad spread of the rev range.
Powerful, smooth engine
Fun to drive
Not much, hey?
At the first turn of the key of the BMW 335i, you realise again that BMW knows how to produce "driving machines". No matter your thoughts on the carmaker's designs or even if you are just not a Beemer fan in general, you have to give it credit for its engineering and innovation abilities.
Again BMW has produced a car that is able to deliver "sheer driving pleasure". The new 3 coupe is everything you expect from a BMW, and it is a looker, too. In short, it is a class act.