2010 BMW 335d Review – Clean and efficient MPG in the ultimate driving package

BMW Expert Reviews

2010 BMW 335d sedan

>>> Review by Anson Tse | >>> Photographs by Derek Mau


  • Loads of torque
  • Fantastic handling
  • Clean emissions and great fuel economy


  • Powertrain lacks responsiveness expected from a BMW
  • It’s just too expensive

The Ultimate Driving Machine. That’s BMW’s tagline that they use to describe the vehicles they make. Clearly this reputation has been well earned over the years and the 3-series always finds itself square in the cross hairs of its competitors. The 335i is a magnificent sport sedan with a very potent twin-turbocharged gasoline powered inline 6.  So what happens when the boys from Bavaria shoe horn a diesel powered twin-turbo 6 cylinder underneath the hood? No black smoke from this one, just a stump pulling 425 pound-feet worth of torque, more than enough to turn those rear tires into piles of molten rubber.

Driving Impressions
Slide the integrated electronic key fob into the dash and fire up the ignition. No loud diesel rattle to be found here, a testament to how far diesel technology has evolved since those horrific examples in the early 80′s. The Europeans have been working on diesels ever since then and we’re finally seeing the fruits of that labor over here. In fact, few would notice that the typical gasoline powered inline 6 doesn’t lurk beneath the hood of this BMW.

For those of us who have a heavy right foot, the 335d will put a nice grin on your face. After all, 425 pound-feet of torque tends to have that side effect, yet the car doesn’t get out of the starting blocks as one may initially expect. The 335d has a sequential turbo setup, which means that all 6 exhaust banks feed one turbocharger, which then feeds a second turbocharger. This creates some lag in response which reduces the amount of torque instantly available off the line. The engine only puts out 265 HP which becomes evident as the rate of acceleration slows while the car gains speed. This is where horsepower quickly becomes much more important than torque. The low revving diesel in the 335d revs very differently compared to the gasoline powered 335i.

Under light driving, the car drives like any normal 3-series. That said, BMW has probably achieved its first goal–make the car drive like any other 3-series. However, BMW’s true goal was to increase fuel efficiency while maintaining performance. The 335d delivers a class leading 23 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway, so you can easily cruise 580 highway miles between refueling. A comparable gasoline powered 335i gets 17 MPG in the city and 26 MPG on the highway.

2010 BMW 335d sedan

German cars are known for their rock solid chassis and everything on the 335d reinforces that reputation. The doors shut with a solid thud almost making you think that the doors were carved out of a single piece of steel rather than a couple of sheets of steel welded together. Exterior margins and panel gaps were tight and consistent.

For some unexplained reason, the xenon swiveling adaptive light control headlamps were not properly aligned. The headlamps were aligned too low to the ground so I had to drive at night with the high beams, which ended up giving me the visibility the standard low beams should have provided. I can definitely tell you that the headlamps do respond to the movement of the steering wheel as the low beams pointed about 10 feet in front of the car and it was clear that the lights were pivoting according to steering wheel.  The headlamp mis-alignment is clearly a quality control problem since this is something that should have never left the factory’s pre-delivery process, but easily remedied by a dealer.

BMW 335d - Xenon adaptive headlights w/dynamic auto-leveling

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
On the inside, the quality of materials is excellent. As with all other BMW’s the dash is only available in black with a lighter interior accent color on the lower half of the dash. Controls are fairly well laid out and all the buttons are black making them stand out against other background panels like on the sunroof console. This approach clearly keeps costs and complexity down but cheapens the overall appearance compared to what other luxury car competitors do.

The interior cabin seats five people quite comfortably, with ample foot space for rear passengers. As part of the $1,150 Cold Weather package, the rear seats fold down, the front seats are heated, and you get retractable headlamp washers. I grew up in Michigan and know all about salt spray and dirt, yet I’m still not convinced about the value of headlamp washers.

BMW 335d sedan interior

This tester came equipped with an optional saddle brown leather interior which is a $550 option. The seats provide firm support and plenty of adjustment which is perfect for long drives. To complement the heated seats, the steering wheel is also heated which is a nice touch for those chilly mornings.

The Sport package includes a thicker steering wheel with audio controls right at your finger tips. These buttons proved to be important for me since the LED display on the radio cannot be seen with polarized sunglasses. This is a big blunder in my book; it’s something that BMW should really have considered when designing the display especially considering that the LED display for the climate control does not share the same problem. The buttons for the radio are also quite small and not laid out quite as well as they could be for no look operation.

BMW 3-Series push-button start/stop

Perhaps BMW is trying to convince drivers that they should avoid all distractions while driving, akin to placing the cup holders in front of the passenger just above the glove box, conveniently out of the driver’s easy reach. There’s actually plenty of space for a conventional cup holder in the center console.

Our tester did not come equipped with the optional navigation system and latest iDrive controller. The standard radio is AM/FM unit with RDS display featuring an HD receiver and CD/MP3 player. An iPod and USB adapter was a $400 option which provides interface cables in the center arm rest console. This seemed to work well with the audio system allowing me full control of my iPod from the radio interface.

One glaring feature that was missing is an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a vehicle at this price point should really have this as a standard feature especially since BMW has so many other little features that are less important.

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  • 335D says:

    I’ve had my 335d for a year. The freeway mileage is incredible. I drove from LA to Las Vegas and got 75.5 mpg. Have pictures to prove it.

  • Tim says:

    I leased a 2010 335d about 6 weeks ago and have been in love ever since. The 2010 replaces a 2007 328xi coupe and there really is no comparison. We visited my son at Fort Knox and drove the car 1,000+ miles – mainly highway and some city and averaged 34.8 mpg overall. It will only get better. This one is a keeper.

  • Flyingman says:

    I am curious if the author has any other diesel engine experience. Detroit would not be considered a great place to get it from.

    People who consider and eventually purchase a 335d have generally done their homework in this regard, and usually have an extensive history with diesel engines, so understand the advancements made by BMW engineers with the 335d.

    Suggest any reader giving serious consideration for a diesel engine car, research all of the reviews and comments out there.

  • Karl says:

    reviewer cant figure out how to manually shift the veh– put it in DS mode with the joy stick and then use the paddle shifters and the veh is then in M mode and will hold gears just as designed to do.

    as to fuel costs, comparing the 335d diesel costs to regular grade gas is misleading, the 335i requires premium and diesel usually runs less per gallon than premium gas so you get the double savings of less per gallon combined with more miles per gallon Roughly 30% more miles per gallon in real world driving.

    the veh isnt an M it isnt supposed to be, its supposed to be and is one of the finest real world daily drving vehs you can own. please name another veh on the planet with as good of performance and as good of economy combined with emmisisons that make it one of the cleanest cars on the road, and this all wrapped up in the class leading 3 series body for handling and interior comfort.

    as other more complete reviews have stated the 335d is down (slightly) on straight line performance to its gas powered sibling (335i) but that 425lb ft of tq makes itsself known on the track where its grunt powering out of corners garnered it a faster (slightly) lap time. Take the 335d down a tight twisty road and it will put a huge smile on your face rocketing from curve to curve.

  • Steve says:

    For some reason the writer mentions the $900 tax credit but does not mention the $4500 eco-credit that has been offered by BMW for over a year, and which makes the 335d less expensive than a gasoline 335i. I’m also not sure why he compares the cost of diesel fuel to regular unleaded gasoline (diesel is quite a bit cheaper than 91 octane). I do wonder how much time the writer was actually able to spend driving the car. Some of the concerns about horsepower, 0-60 splits, and manually shifting the automatic transmission look like issues on paper but don’t play out when you drive the car. I engine brake down a steep hill every day just fine. I’ve only driven my car 2000 miles (including 680 miles in Germany), and am convinced the 335d is one of the best all-around vehicles ever produced (fuel economy, performance, comfort, and value). If I wanted to track a car I might buy something else.

  • Peter Anastopulos says:

    Love this car hate the price which is so over the top.Audi and Mercedes prices there Diesel cars at or under there Petrol versions.So what gives?

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