The BMW 3 Series is the Munich-based manufacturer’s bread and butter. It’s offered in a wide range of configurations (sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet) and even the most basic of the various 3’s is desirable. Yes, the equipment level isn’t the greatest and the engine isn’t very powerful, but the fun coefficient at the wheel is only slightly reduced as a result. But can you imagine a 3 with a 3.0-litre turbocharged in-line six? Welcome to the world of the 335i.
With its brand new lines, the 3 Series isn’t radically different from the old one, but it’s different enough that the trained eye would easily notice the changes. The overall lines exude a wisely balanced and brilliantly executed mixture of power, agility and aggressiveness. In the passenger compartment, it’s pure BMW with a lot of black and grey along with brushed aluminum accents. In our test car, there was a red band across the centre of the dashboard: pure class and excellent execution.
Criticism and praise
The materials are first-rate and the assembly is perfect. Sure, many of the controls will demand several days to get used to, like finding your way around the iDrive, and peculiar things like the absence of a small arrow that indicates the side upon which the gas tank cap is located are puzzling. Knowing that it wouldn’t have cost a cent to add this little arrow, you have to wonder if BMW just wanted to play a joke on the journalist who changes cars every week. For a recently redesigned car, the lack of storage spaces is surprising. On the other hand, and as strange as it may seem, I was able to connect my BlackBerry without any problems, and I’m totally useless when it comes to things like that. Way to go BMW! The head-up display can be distracting at first with its information projected on the windshield, but you get used to it fact and after a few hours, you don’t notice it anymore.
The front seats are as firm and comfortable as ever, not to mention very supportive in turns. However, a friend who was wearing her hair in a bun had to recline the seat more than she would have liked in order to accommodate the aforementioned bun. BMW’s designers seem to have concentrated their efforts on the front, as the occupants in the back aren’t treated quite as well. The bench is comfortable in spite of its flat, slippery seat. Given the car’s excellent handling, the poor passengers in the back will have to get used to constantly sliding from side to side.
First and foremost, a BMW is about the engine, and the 335i has a great one. Producing 300 horses and 300 lbs-ft of torque, this in-line twin-turbo six-cylinder never runs out of steam. What’s more, the fact that the maximum torque is delivered between 1,300 and 5,000 rpm makes it particularly linear. The six-speed manual transmission that equipped our test car was a veritable work of art. As for shifting, the throws are short and precise, the clutch is just firm enough and the pedals are perfect for the heel-toe technique. With a good gear ratio, this transmission makes the ride energetic and the average fuel consumption meagre. During our week long test drive, our fuel consumption was 9.9 L/100 km. Not bad for a car that’s capable of going from 0-100 km/hr in less than 6 seconds and with a top speed of 210 km/hr! The engine features Start&Go technology that shuts it off completely when the car is immobilized, as long as it’s in neutral. On the other hand, restarts are rather abrupt and out of place in such a refined car. You can always deactivate the Start&Go, if you want.
For a powerful engine to be able to express itself, it needs a great chassis – BMW knows a thing or two about these. It’s perfectly rigid and superbly balanced. The suspension attached to it isn’t anything to write home about in terms of give, but it ensures exceptional handling. Thanks to the direct and precise steering, you can place the car within millimetres of the curb, and a shout out goes to the Pirelli Cinturato Run Flat tires 225/45R18 that equipped our beautiful ride. If the 335i’s ride isn’t cushiony enough for your liking, go for the Mercedes E350 instead.
What about the other trim levels?
While the 3 Series sedan is brand new, the wagon is still waiting its turn. This fall BMW should introduce the 4 Series that will include a coupe and a cabriolet that were formerly in the 3 Series line-up, exactly like what Audi has done for its A5.
The BMW 335i Sport Line that we had the chance to drive is one of the most impressive cars that we’ve tested in a long time. The base price is $51,200, but you have to add $1,500 for the head-up display and $1,800 for the surround view and park distance control, a system of cameras and sensors that helps you see all around the car. Yes, that may seem expensive, but if you have the means, spoil yourself. You have to take advantage of life’s pleasures while you can!
|Test model||2013 BMW 3 Series|
|Trim level||335i sedan|
|Price range||$35,900 - $75,100|
|Price as tested||$51,200|
|Warranty (basic)||4 years / 80,000 km|
|Warranty (powertrain)||4 years / 80,000 km|
|Options||Head-up display $1,500, Surround view and park distance control $1,800|
|Fuel consumption||Surprisingly good for this much power|
|Value for price||A Beamer is always a Beamer!|
|Styling||Simultaneously classic and aggressive|
|Comfort||The suspensions are very firm|
|Performance||300 horses can really move!|
|Overall||If you like a sporty and versatile sedan, this is your type of car!|