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We test BMW's 335i cabrio

2007-06-01 07:06

Wilmer Muller

The BMW 335i Cabriolet (Photo: Lance Branquinho)

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model 335i Cabrio
Engine 3-litre straight-six
Power 225kW @ 5800
Torque 400Nm @ 1300-1500
Transmission Steptronic
Top Speed 250 km/h
Price R591 500
BMW 335i Cabriolet

Video Clips

Engine Sound (Audio only)
Click here

What's it about

A BMW convertible has always been a desirable drop-top, and especially the 3 Series cabriolet draws a lot of attention. This sunseeker grabs the attention of the upwardly mobile trendsetters who are eager for flashy wheels that will make them look cool.

And the latest 3 Series cabriolet is no different. It is again a trendsetting and distinctive topless number. However, the big news on this model is the fact that it now comes with a retractable hard-top roof.

You will be forgiven if you see a 3 Series cabrio with the top up jetting pass you and mistake it for a coupe. Most of the car's design cues, such as the nose, are similar to that of its coupe sibling. Only if you see the side profile you'll notice the difference. The cabriolet version appears "flatter" and not as curvaceous as the coupe.

Naturally its true beauty comes to light with the roof down, showing off the car's sleek lines. In our opinion it is a beauty - it is a succulent convertible. Its design is classy rather than sporty, but the car draws a lot of envious looks.

BMW also successfully steered away from giving this hard-top cabriolet a bulbous rear-end, which is so typical of most coupe-cabriolets.


The roof is a steel three-piece setup which transforms the car into a convertible or coupe in about 23 seconds. All the roof functions can also be operated via the remote control up to eight metres away.

Dropping and raising the roof is an impressive affair, especially if you take into consideration that this is the Bavarian carmaker's first attempt at a folding metal roof.

It seems like an engineering masterpiece if you raise the roof. First the boot lid flips back, showing the three roof panels. The one panel then slides forward, another back while the third one stays put. Then all the roof panels moves into their set positions, and voila, you have a striking hardtop.

You can also fit a wind deflector over the rear seats, to decrease wind buffeting.

Another interesting feature is the use of sun reflective technology on the seats that results in a claimed average temperature difference of 10 degrees. The leather is treated with a UV resistant veneer that makes it more resistant to fading and more colourfast.

The rest of the car is pretty much 3 Series with all the relevant standard and optional gizmos available. The interior fit and finish is good with almost no trace of hard plastics.

Under the skin

BMW says torsional rigidity has been significantly increased, though the car's weight is kept down by the use of plastic panels in parts of the body.

This ensures that, even with the use of a folding hard top, the car is only about 200 kg heavier than the coupe. And in typical BMW fashion, weight distribution is 50/50 (or very close to it) with the top up or down.

Our 335i test car uses BMW's twin-turbocharged straight six.

The unit's power and torque outputs are 225 kW and 400 Nm at 5 800 and from 1 400 r/min respectively. It is claimed to cover the 0 - 100 km/h sprint in 5.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h.

The Steptronic six-speed automatic transmission is effortless.

Driving it

The 3 Series cabriolet feels tight on the road. Of course, the ride is a showcase of BMW characteristics such as sharp, communicative steering, great handling and impressive braking power too. The twin-turbo engine offers amazing pace with little turbo lag.

Body roll is also kept to the minimum and although the ride is subtle it is a bit firm. The car is about 200kg heavier than the coupe which does impact on overall performance and you can't quite hurl it around as the sedan or coupe models.

However, while the car's manners are still impeccable it is not trying to be a sports car. BMW isn't positioning it as a track-hungry car either. Most of its drivers probably don't care about burning rubber.

Instead, this is a juicy cruiser with a great chassis. In short, it is a four-seater cabriolet with sharp dynamics and impressive refinement. The 3 Series is also one of the most involving cabriolets to drive.

Typical BMW driving dynamics are top notch, though (typical four-seater cabrios) it is more a cruiser than a driver's car. And "sheer driving pleasure" is still the name of the game.

Furthermore, it is also a genuine four-seater with acceptable room for adults.


The 335i is as good as it gets when it comes to cabriolets.

It's a stylish drop-top with an impressive powertrain, and clever engineering. You can't help to admire this car for its looks, roof design and build quality. Then there is the nimble ride too, meaning you can cruise effortlessly through a posh suburb or along a stretch of beach.

Yes, all this "exclusivity" comes at a hefty price. But it is a great car, and better than its direct rivals which include the Volvo C70 and Mercedes-Benz CLK.


  • Design
  • Quality
  • Engine


  • The fact that we had to give it back

    Video Clips

    Engine Sound (Audio only)
    Click here


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