2012 BMW 335i review

  • New 3.0 turbo BMW 335i driven
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  • Priced from £35,525
The BMW 335i is the first six-cylinder version of the new 3 Series executive saloon - all of the other models currently in the range use 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines.

Available in Modern or plusher Luxury trim, with an M Sport version arriving later, the 335i has a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine that produces 302bhp.

It comes with a six-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra £1660, the eight-speed auto that our test car had.

What's the 335i like to drive?
As soon as you press the start button, you're rewarded with the smooth and creamy straight-six hum that was common in fast BMWs until the trend towards downsizing and efficiency changed the landscape.

Slip the gear selector into Drive, remembering to press the correct button on the confusing lever if you want to avoid an on-screen lecture on how to make your BMW go, and then accelerate away.

The step-off is too abrupt, but once on the move the auto gearshifts are both smooth and swift.

You can shift manually with paddles if you prefer, but with eight gears it's easy to lose track of where you are.

The 0-62mph sprint takes just 5.5 seconds, plus there's a deep reservoir of thrust right through the wide rev range, making overtaking easy.

The extra weight of the bigger engine on the front wheels means the steering's power assistance needs to be stronger than it is in the four-cylinder models, which takes away some of their delicacy of response. However, this is still an agile and balanced car that handles beautifully.

On the downside, there's a lot of road noise and the ride is quite firm when the optional M Sport active dampers are in Sport mode, but the Comfort setting smooths bumps well while still keeping body movements tightly controlled.

What's the 335i like inside?
Our car came in Luxury spec, which means lots of standard equipment, plus plush leather and dark wood.

Fit and finish are impeccable, and the latest version of BMW's iDrive control system works very well.

In usual BMW fashion the driving position is spot-on and the instruments ultra-clear.

The new 3 Series goes against the industry trend by being fractionally narrower than the previous one, but it's roomier inside.

One very good point is that it retains a manual handbrake, to the great benefit of close-quarters manoeuvring.

Should I buy one?
Clearly the 335i is much thirstier and emits more CO2 than a smaller-engined 3 Series, although the official figures – 39.2mpg and 169g/km of CO2 – are impressive given the pace.

The usual Efficient Dynamics measures help here, although in reality 30mpg is likely to be nearer the mark unless you use the Eco Pro setting, whose turgid responses take away much of the 335i's point.

If, on the other hand, you're prepared to avoid this setting and accept higher running costs, you'll find the 335i sophisticated and enjoyable both to drive and to own.


Read the full BMW 3 Series review>>



Read the BMW 3 Series review for parents at Mumsnet Cars

Rivals:
Audi A4
Mercedes C-Class

What Car? says...


John Simister

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