>>> Review by Twain Mein | >>> Photos by Derek Mau
- Amazing engine with breathtaking acceleration
- Incredible handling
- Surprising amount of interior space
- Poor gas mileage (averaged 16.6 mpg)
- Surprising cost cutting and sub-par quality for a $46,000 car
- Uncomfortable seats
This is a review of the BMW 335i 4-door sedan; it features a 300 hp twin-turbocharged engine, compared to the “base” 328i that is rated at 230 hp. As equipped, the 335i stickered at $46,000.
Though slotted between the base 328i and hot rod M3, the 335i has a special sport suspension and incredible twin-turbo six cylinder that is flat out fast; faster than the last generation M3. It’s something of a sleeper hot rod. When I got the keys, I was excited to drive the car but worried because it was bright, crimson red with 300 hp and a 6-speed manual transmission. Perfect color and combination for cop bait!
The 335i had the typical solid feel of BMWs. And, despite low profile (40 series front and 35 series rear) 18” run-flat tires, the ride was remarkably smooth yet still provided a lot of feedback to the driver with just a hint of dartiness. BMW has mastered the balance between stiff tire sidewalls, negligible body lean, and a supple ride. The car feels exceptionally solid and didn’t bottom out over steep driveways or bumpy roads. Amazing!
However, there were some glaring cost-cutting moves which I find hard to reconcile in a car of this pedigree and price. Most noticeable is the under-hood and interior trunk paint. It is a dull matte finish that doesn’t look the same as the exterior. It’s confounding; is the matte “more durable” or is it simply a way to cut costs? Additionally the overhead light switches had a cheap looking and feeling plastic cover. In the trunk, the thin carpet houses similarly cheap plastic pull panels to get at equipment underneath.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior is good but not great. There is a wonderfully thick steering wheel, with detents at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions, and the shifter falls well at hand. However, the clutch throw seems proportionally longer than the brake/throttle pedals. The 6-speed shifter has close spacing between reverse, 1st, and 3rd, lending a degree of uncertainty at times. The shifter throws are also somewhat long which is a bit irritating. The biggest drawback, however, is the black leather seats. They are not perforated and felt “hot”, perhaps because of the large greenhouse (admittedly, the pulse-quickening acceleration and handling might have had something to do with the sweat factor). Side vision mirrors were also a bit small which made it difficult to see traffic behind.
Otherwise, space and amenities were excellent. The stereo sounded fantastic and had ample volume. Rear seat room was surprisingly good thanks to the carved out toe room and sculpted front seats that give the impression of relative airiness. Headroom for a 6 footer was acceptable front and back, even with the sunroof. There was good “spreadout” room for the upper torso in front, though the door handles and console encroach on “splay out” space for your legs. Ostensibly, this is to help hold you in under aggressive driving (and proved to be a good thing in the twisties). It was nice to see one touch power windows for front and rear as well. Lastly, this model featured 60/40 folding rear seats that offer enhanced pass-through cargo space while also being easy to use.
(Continued on page 2 – Performance | Handling | Styling | Value | Conclusion | Rating )
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