2009 BMW 335i Touring Review & Road Test
Exclusive, capable and versatile - the ideal family performance package
- 2009 BMW 335i Touring, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, six-speed automatic, wagon - $111,700 (RRP)
- See below
- by Matt Brogan
Sound about right?
Well, now you can whole heatedly agree, and still have an enjoyable, high-performance European wagon at the same time.
I think in relationship terms you call that a "compromise".
Seriously though, how many cars out there can you name that present the same amount of exclusivity, capability and versatility as a 335i Touring?
Not even BMW's direct rivals have a model that can compete on equal footing.
For that very reason alone this car is brilliant. It's exclusive, but not in that "look at me" kind of way. It's undeniably fast, but the wife needn't know that, and when you take it out for a Sunday morning run through the hills, sans children of course, you really can enjoy driving what is essentially the family car - try saying that about your current lugger!
Alhough it certainly is a very elegant looking car, it doesn't bear any stand-out performance hallmarks, at least to the uninitiated. In fact until you see the twin pipes and badge designation you'd barely take a second glance.
What this means, in simple terms, is that although you're packing one of the most intriguing sounding and precision performing six-cylinder's on the planet, most punters won't see you as being any different to the next 3-series, until, of course, you're a speck on the horizon.
Yes, the 335i is quick, very quick and not only that but it also manages to balance itself tremendously well thanks to a stiff yet adaptive chassis that makes cornering a lot more fun than the car's 'station wagon' orientation would have you believe, and all without being too firm or unforgiving.
The reason for all this speed? A very sweet 3.0-litre, twin-turbo, in-line six-cylinder engine that thrusts the 335i Touring from 0-100km/h in just 5.9 seconds.
Torque delivery is instantaneous with all 400Nm available from just over idle and despite delivering it's maximum 225kW at 5800rpm, the 335i will rev well into 7000rpm territory before cut-out.
Throttle to ESP calibration can at times prove a little interesting off the mark, and I did find on two occasions a momentary delay before maximum throttle was delivered, but in most instances power is put to the rear wheels without delay.
Otherwise power delivery is seamless, strong and incredibly linear with so much in reserve that you almost find yourself wishing you could just teleport yourself to a European autobahn tout-de-suite.
The cabin, or should that be cockpit, is impeccable in terms of its ergonomics with every last feature, switch and control placed perfectly and thoughtfully to the driver's command.
Not only does this make the car safe and comfortable to drive, but it also helps you develop a feel for what driving a car like the 335i is all about - enjoyment - not something usually associated with a family car.
The panoramic roof too is an absolute delight making to cabin light and airy with very little wind noise. The roof can be enjoyed as a glass skylight, as two tilted glass panels, a retracted glass sunroof or simply closed on those scorching summer weekends leaving you to instead enjoy the dual zone climate control.
Having said all that though, I must point out that entry and exit to the 335i is a little bit of an ask. The seat's hip height is quite low slung, and with rather small door apertures, the resulting manoeuvre is one that older folk or people with mobility issues may find tough going.
Similarly rear leg room is also on the slighter side of comfortable. So if you're a tall family, or parent to lanky teenagers, you may need to strongly reconsider the 3-series for this reason alone (refer picture top-left: driver seat forward, passenger seat aft ward).
Otherwise proportions are ample. The front seats are comfortable, quite supportive too and cargo capacity is adequate for most family's needs at 460 litres (expandable to 1385 litres). The split-fold tailgate is also a stand-out feature.
It's a very safe car too with a five-star ANCAP rating, full house of airbags, brilliantly responsive and progressively pedalled brakes, plus all the electronic nannies you could possibly consider helping support your argument all the more.
So aside from the small issues mentioned, the only other problem I really see with this car is the six-figure price tag.
Now I'm not saying that you don't get value for money in its basic form, that's subjective, but when you start ticking the option boxes the 335i Touring very nearly begins nudging C63 Estate territory ... but that's a whole new argument.
If you can keep it simple, and win the battle on the home front, the 335i Touring really is the ideal family performance package, and one car I'm sure most lead footed Dad's won't mind liberating for the weekend.
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