2008 BMW 335i review

Current Pricing Not Available

Recommended Retail Price: $111,700; as tested $117,050.

Options fitted: Electric sunroof - glass ($2,750), M Sport Package ($2,600).

CarAdvice rating: 4.5

- Photographs and review by Paul Maric

As a closet BMW fan, I was quietly hoping that BMW’s new 335i Coupe would make Audi’s S5 – which I test drove a couple of weeks back – watch its back a bit more closely, in anticipation of a heated duel. A duel was the least of my worries though, before even moving out of park I was given a 15-minute i-Drive introduction by BMW’s PR chief.

Pfft...I thought. I know my iPod back-to-front, surely some car computer wouldn’t outdo me. But, rightfully so, I was outdone. In fact, some of the features of this ingenious i-Drive had me intrigued. Favourite functions, followed by television and even a bit of voice recognition thrown in for fun, it’s a very impressive system that is easy to master with a bit of time.

Anyway, as fun as i-Drive is, the BMW 335i Coupe’s main draw card is the engine under the bonnet. BMW has reserved the V8 for the M3 and instead uses a twin-turbocharged inline 6-cylinder motor. The 3.0-litre motor produces 225kW and an impressive 400Nm of torque. Calling this engine a masterpiece would be a dreadful understatement. It’s not often you come across a motor which literally knows what to do before you even consider doing it.

Ease on the throttle or slam down the throttle, the engine is always ready to respond, and the noise...oh the noise. At full flight, the twin-turbo’ed unit sounds like its ready to sacrifice anything in its path. It literally sounds like a fighter jet in the midst of mid-air combat. The noise can he heard quite clearly both inside and outside the cabin, lending to BMW’s commitment to driver satisfaction.

In 2007, BMW won the coveted Engine of the Year award for this motor – the twin-turbocharged, inline six-cylinder. BMW’s dedication to building technically advanced, fuel efficient engines is impressive and the unit under the bonnet of the BMW 335i Coupe is a perfect example of why people are willing to pay a price premium to receive what can only be described as a near perfect engine/gearbox combination.

The noise is nothing in comparison to the drive though. The steering features pinpoint accuracy, while the brakes offer sublime stopping power. One thing that got up my nose though was the tyres. BMW’s obsession with run-flat tyres sacrifices the vehicle’s performance. Instead of rolling over the edge of the rim, the run-flat tyre causes the car to feel stiff and somewhat unnatural through bends.

You can fit aftermarket non-run-flat tyres to the BMW 335i Coupe, but you will sacrifice any form of backup if a tyre blows – which probably won’t be so much of an issue if you live in suburbia.

I continuously had the feeling that the BMW 335i didn’t have the surety and confidence of Audi’s S5, due to the tyres. But, fit the 335i Coupe with a decent set of treads and I’m confident it would keep up with the S5 through corners. The BMW quite simply delivers an awe inspiring feel through the chassis that can’t be matched by Audi’s offering.

Inside the cabin, an endless set of features grace the driver and passengers. I had a short stint in the back seat and I must say, it’s not a bad place to be. I had decent head room and as it’s a dedicated 4-seater, there was no feeling of being squashed by other passengers. Build quality and materials are –of course – superb, which is what you would expect of a vehicle of this calibre.

The 335i Coupe comes standard with a feature BMW call high-beam assist. The system is designed to automatically engage and disengage the high-beam lights without the need for driver input. The system can detect tail lights, along with oncoming headlights. The system worked relatively flawlessly during testing, but it seemed to get confused at times with reflective roadside signs and the red lights from parallel railway signals. It’s certainly a useful feature that takes the onus off the driver when it comes to dipping their lights.

Luggage space in the boot isn’t all that shabby. Rated at 430-litres, the 335i Coupe can carry its fair share of luggage. The run-flat tyres ensure a maximum load carrying capacity in the boot as there is no need for a full-sized or space-saver spare tyre.

BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) contains three modes. The first mode (fully active) ensures that the car catches any oversteer or understeer before it becomes an issue. The second mode (single press of the DTC button) disables part of the stability control. This second mode allows the car to get out of shape – up to a point where it can still be saved if worst comes to worst. This mode makes any driver look impressive and gives you a good indication of the levels of grip available before it all lets go.

The third and final mode – DSC off – disables all the electronic nannies. This mode allows the 335i Coupe to get as sideways as the path allows. During testing on a private circuit, I got a feel for the vehicle’s capabilities and got a true sense of the chassis. At full boot, you can hold the 335i Coupe out sideways all day long. Along with pinpoint steering feel, the rapid engine response allows tremendous levels of control over the car’s direction.

BMW claims a 0-100km/h time of 5.5-seconds for the automatic 335i Coupe. After a couple of timed runs with the G-Tech, this figure was easily achieved. I believe the figure may be slightly understated, as it felt quicker than the stipulated time BMW has provided and this was backed up by the G-Tech’s readings of around 5.3-seconds.

I was somewhat disappointed with the standard sound system that comes with the 335i Coupe. It lacks bass and begins distorting far before it should. There are two other sound systems which can be optioned with the 335i Coupe, they include the Hi-Fi Logic7 sound system ($1,250) and the Individual high-end audio system ($3,150). I would recommend optioning these if you're purchasing the car, as they would be a worthy investment.

Standard features include: Cruise control with brake function; DataDot technology; 18” alloy wheels with 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) rubber; central locking; automatic windscreen wipers; automatic headlights; front fog lights; adaptive bi-xenon headlights; high-beam assist; front and rear parking sensors (including visual display on interior LCD screen); dual zone climate control; 6-stack CD player with in-dash CD player, including MP3 player; automatic dimming rear vision mirror; leather interior; control display with 8.8” colour LCD screen, including satellite navigation, television and voice recognition; Bluetooth compatibility; driver and passenger electric seats and BMW sport seats.

Safety features include: ABS brakes with EBD, BA; Dynamic Brake Control (DBC); Cornering Brake Control (CBC); Automatic Stability and Traction Control (ASC+T); Dynamic Stability Control, including Dynamic Traction Control (DSC and DTC); driver and front passenger front airbags; front side airbags; head airbags for front and rear occupants and engine immobiliser.

The 3-series Coupe is available in three guises, the 323i, 325i and the most popular, the 335i. The 323i begins at $70,200, while the 325i can be had for $81,900. Finally, the 335i comes in at $108,900. A 6-speed ZF automatic gearbox can be optioned for an additional $2,800.

It’s very hard to say no to this proposition. Not only is the 335i Coupe some $23,000 cheaper than its main rival – the Audi S5 – it looks stunning and drives like you wouldn’t believe. Maybe it’s bad on fuel then? Ah, no, try 9.5-litres/100km. The only question you have to ask is which brand you prefer, BMW for the 335i Coupe, or Audi for the S5 – there’s no way you could be disappointed with either choice.

Click through to read our Audi S5 review.

CarAdvice overall rating: 4.5

How does it drive: 4.5

How does it look: 4.5

How does it go: 4.5

Engine: 3.0-litre
Power: 225kW
Torque: 400Nm
Top speed: 250km/h
Safety: Electronic stability control- front air bags - side airbags - curtain airbags - front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.
0-100km/h: 5.5-seconds
EuroNCAP rating: N/A
Turning circle: 11m
Fuel tank: 63 litres
Fuel consumption : 9.5-litres/100km
Fuel type: 98RON premium unleaded