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Tested: BMW 335i sedan

2008-01-28 09:03
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model 335i Sedan
Engine turbocharged straight six
Power 225 kW at 6000 r/min
Torque 400 Nm from 1 300 to 5 000 r/min
Transmission six-speed Steptronic
Top Speed 250 km/h (limited)
Fuel Consumption 9.5 l/100 km
Steering rack and pinion
ABS with Traction Control (ASC+T), EBD, CBC
Front Suspension double-joint spring-strut suspension with displace
Rear Suspension independent 5-arm axle, steel-lightweight construc
Price R429 500

Hailey Philander

What's it about?

Debuted on the 3 Series coupe and later followed by the 3 Series convertible, BMW's first turbocharged petrol engine in more than two decades was always going to be poked and prodded.

But global acceptance of this powerplant has been so overwhelming that the special issue engine was crowned the World Engine of the Year by a panel of international judges last year.

And this beauty recently filtered down to the more blue-collar derivative of the 3 Series range - the family-favourite sedan.


It's essentially your garden variety 3 Series, albeit with a rather potent powerplant. This means that not much has been changed inside the 335i's cabin.

No flashy carbon fibre and other weight-saving bobs, just the classic dark leather and hard plastic combination. Even the seats are unaltered.

Under the bonnet

But it is here where the 335i sparks, with figures that will make any hot-blooded enthusiast's toes curl with pleasure.

Using an existing six-cylinder motor with direct injection, the manufacturer has strapped two low-pressure turbochargers (expelling 0.4 bar each) to produce an engine with a seemingly tireless power supply.

Peak power of 225 kW is punched out at 6 000 r/min, maximum torque of 400 Nm is available from as low as 1 300 r/min and BMW claims a 0 - 100-km/h sprint time of 5.5 seconds to go with a top speed limited to 250 km/h. Breathtaking!


Punch its starter button and realise that this engine is unlike any turbocharged mill experienced yet. Sure, the rorty straight six-burble is present, but wind it up to notice that turbo-lag, for all practical purposes, is absent.

Putting its power to the road, this engine simply feels a lot like a larger displacement naturally aspirated engine.

It also fires off the line with similar ferociousness, but torque is prodigious, pulling the unlikely speedster along a linear torque spread all the way to its 7 000-r/min red line.

All this, with the aid of a smooth shifting and very quick six-speed automatic gearbox developed specifically for the twin-turbo derivatives of the 3 Series, makes for one thrilling ride. Paddleshifts on the steering wheel also allow for quicker "manual" gearchanges.

And, as with the conventional 3 Series, ride and handling for the 335i derivative is top-notch, too. Communication through the steering wheel is superb and the ride is appreciatively firm.

It grips too, barreling through corners as though it were the easiest thing in the world - despite the ubiquitous threat of being overcome by oversteer. And a great thing, when you're swanning about at great speed, is having brakes you know you can rely on. The 335i sedan tested had no problem meeting that criterion either.

But there's nothing easy-going about this car, which could easily bear the label of the definitive thinking individual's car. It's not an M3, but it makes a pile of sense in real-world conditions where performance between the two would be closely matched. It costs significantly less than its M-badged sibling too.


Not as in-your-face as the sedan M3 will be when it arrives here in April, the 335i goes without a sports suspension, carbon-fibre trim and inherited killer credentials.

But it offers power that could rival many other sports sedans, while all the while posing as an also-ran in what has become a sea of faceless 3 Series bearing testament to the sedan's popularity.

When it launches shortly, the 135i coupe will likely be the most fun incarnation of this powerplant yet, but is unlikely to beat this 3 sedan in its practicality. As far as unassuming sports sedans go, the 335i is it.


Mind-blowing engine
Super-quick transmission
Sedan practicality


None really


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