BMW 335i Review

Jay Shoemaker
by Jay Shoemaker

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.

And 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.

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.

The 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.

Jay Shoemaker
Jay Shoemaker

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  • Dr._jay Dr._jay on Aug 03, 2008

    Hey folks. New to the forum... just wanted to comment on a few things. I have been shopping for 3 weeks now. Cars I'm interested in are the Infiniti G37S, the MB C300 Sport, the BMW 335i, and the Lexus IS. The Audi A5 was my first choice, but the lease rates on them are absolutely ridiculous. The 335 will end up being my number one choice. What an amazing car. Very expensive once you add minor (of course ala carte) options but still worth it. Yes, they are all run flats, which sucks given the fact that there is no spare. But, they do offer road side assistance for the life of the lease, and if you get the Bluetooth option ($750) with BMW's version of Onstar, you're definitely covered. And it’s FREE. They do offer an AWD Model. It’s the 335XI. And one gentleman indicated the maintenance on the ultimate driving machine was too expensive. Actually, it’s FREE too. Everything except tires. Oil changes, filters, wiper blades, brakes, and of course warranty items... they told me this is new, and I'm going to take them up on it.

  • Petetruong Petetruong on Dec 16, 2009

    2008 335I model has a defect. The high pressure fuel pump does not work properly!!!! 2 weeks ago, on my way home from work my 335I broke down right in the middle of the road that leads to my house. The car was towed to the dealer where I bought the car. They fixed it and also told me that it is a known problem. They did not disclose it when I bought the car. If it happened on a freeway, I may not make it alive. I normally drive it a 76-80mph. Imagine this, you drive it at a high speed on the left lane on a 4 lanes freeway at rush hour and it stalls and stops right in the middle of the left lane. If you are a 335I owner, you must bring it in to change it. If you want to buy a 335I, you may think it twice. It is a driving machine with a huge defect that may cause death to its driver.

  • Lou_BC Question of the day: Anyone actually care to own an old TVR?
  • Bd2 First, this was totally predictable. 2nd, Genesis already does have hybrids in the form of a 48V mild hybrid, but more performance oriented (supercharged and turbocharged), so not really helping with regard to fuel consumption. 3rd, Hyundai's hybrid systems don't really help as there currently isn't one that would be suitable power-wise and the upcoming 2.5T hybrid system would have to be heavily reworked to accommodate a RWD/longitudinal layout. 4th, it seems that Genesis is opting to go the EREV route with the GV70 the first get the new powertrain.
  • Bd2 Jaguar's problem was chasing the Germans into the mid size and then entry-level/compact segments for volume, and cheapening their interiors while at it.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Aja8888 I expected that issue with my F150 starting at 52,000mi. luckily I had an extended warranty and it saved me almost $8,000. No more Fords for me, only Toyota.
  • Lou_BC I saw a news article on this got a different read on it. Ford wants to increase production of HD trucks AND develop hybrid and EV variants of the SuperDuty. They aren't scaling back EV production. Just building more HD's and EV variants of HD's .