The day I had been dreading for months had finally come. I had to get rid of my E46 BMW M3. The old girl had been a part of my life for almost four years, and it was time to say good bye.
So what to get next? Well the new M3 was the obvious choice, of course. One problem though - the price tag.
So, where to next?
Believe me, I considered all the brands and models. Tested each one in my price range, but the cars somehow didn’t deliver what I wanted. Sure, some were fast. Some were beautiful. Some were crazy. But none of them offered me the perfect combination.
A moment, please
Now I’d like to just pause for a moment to clarify something.
I am not what society has dubbed a "typical BMW driver".
I really do enjoy using indicators. I am not below average in “that” department. I won’t get up behind you and blind you with my fancy headlights. I don’t own a gold chain, and my shirts are buttoned up appropriately. I don’t scoff at Audi or Mercedes drivers. If someone beats me in a suburban drag race in a souped-up Golf, I give him the “thumbs up”.
Now the fact that I don’t fit the clichéd profile might corroborate the horrid service I receive from BMW South Africa. I guess I just don’t fit the profile. From sales to service, there is no worse company to deal with. But unfortunately for me, I love the cars. I love the way they look (with some exceptions, thanks to Mr. Bangle), I love the way they sound and I love the way they drive.
My choice, therefore, was the 335i Coupe. As I’m sure you all know, it has the straight six, 3.0-litre with two turbo chargers to compensate for turbo lag.
The first time I drove this it blew me away. For me, a car has to make me smile. It shouldn’t just ferry me from point A to B, and that’s exactly what the 335 did. I drove the M3 to the dealership, got straight into the 335, and it still blew me away. It checked every box. It was so much better than my M3.
Well that was it, I signed for it the same day.
Now I’ve only had the car for three months, so you might think I still feel the same way. I’d love to tell you that I do, but unfortunately I don’t.
It’s actually quite boring.
The problem is that I keep comparing it to my beloved M3. And I know that you can’t compare the two directly, but having the M3 as my previous car, it’s only human to do so.
Comparing apples with oranges
Sure it’s fast, but it’s uneventful. The M3 did the same sort of figures, but with an entire orchestra of sensation. It still made me smile after four years. The 335 is good, make no mistake, but it’s bland. It has no soul. It’s just a fast Beemer.
As for the figures, fuel consumption sits around 12.5L/100Km when you’re driving “normally”. At full throttle, it’s drinking 39 l/100 km, so that doesn’t happen too often. All in all, the average is about 14 l/100 km when taking routine driving conditions into consideration. It’s definitely thirstier than the M3.
The third gear is really good. You only have to switch over to fourth at around 185 km/h. The traction control is a bit of a pain. You can switch it off, but it isn’t really "off", just hovering in the background making sure your insurance premiums don’t go up.
On the other hand
It has all the bells and whistles too. Adaptive headlights, DVD, keyless entry, navigation, auto wipers, and a nifty feature that dims your high-beam when a car approaches you and switches it back on again. My M3 didn’t have any of these.
I actually realised last night that owning the 335i is a lot like being a South African meeting foreigners on holiday over here. The first thing you ask them is: “So do you like it here?”
You desperately want them to say “yes, we really do”. It’s as if we’re apprehensive about what their experience might be like. You don’t get the same questions from locals when visiting Europe or the USA.
In that sense BMW's 335i is the same. You desperately want it to convince you that it’s awesome. You desperately want it to impress your mates when you take them for that first drive. But it doesn’t.
It’s good, it’s really good, but it isn’t thrilling.