2011 BMW 335is Coupé
Sport-minded coupé proves exciting
Review and images by Russell Purcell (Twitter @RoadTestRuss)
For 2011, the BMW 3 Series line-up has been given a significant makeover in an effort to freshen up the exterior and reignite the sparkle that makes this one of the most popular models on the road today. Major work up front includes new headlights with LED signals, and the grille and air intakes have been revised. Around the back a new rear bumper fascia is capped by all-new taillights which now incorporate LED technology. I must admit, these look very sharp, and garnered lots of interest from owners of older 3 Series models I encountered during my time with the 335is Coupé.
The 335is features BMW’s well-sorted 3.0-litre, inline, six-cylinder engine fitted with twin-turbochargers. This potent engine is mated to a short-throw manual transmission or in the case of my test unit, the optional 7-speed double clutch automatic. This combination delivers 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Acceleration is impressive as the turbos ensure that maximum torque is available at very low rpms, and runs from 0-100 km/h in my test car were executed in a mere 5.3 seconds.
The BMW 335is provides the driver with a very comfortable cockpit environment that has been carefully executed to place the controls and instrumentation in the optimal position for most drivers. This is one of the things that sets BMW apart from lesser brands, as this is one company that holds to the belief that the act of driving an automobile is meant to be a pleasant experience, rather than just a chore.
The M Sport, 3-spoke steering wheel feels perfectly balanced in your hands as you utilise it to guide the car from apex to apex on your favourite back road, and it offers just enough electrical assistance when dealing with more mundane tasks such as parking. Of course it is equipped with secondary controls for many of the cars comfort and entertainment features, as well as Bluetooth and cruise control functions. My test vehicle came sporting the optional steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters which I must admit, helped make the driving experience even more entertaining as I felt like a factory race driver as I flicked quickly up and down the 7-speed gearbox during my play-dates with this sexy coupe.
The front seats on the 335is are a sport bucket design, and as such, provide exceptional bolstering and side support. I am a rather tall lad as I stand 6’2” tall, but I found these highly adjustable seats comfortable enough for long rides. The same cannot be said of those in the rear passenger compartment, as it was obvious that it was best reserved for small-scale adults and children. There was absolutely no way I was going to squeeze my large frame back there so I called in the services of a couple of my more agile friends (5’7” female and 5’9” male). I wasn’t surprised when both of my test dummies admitted that while they preferred the convenience of a sedan, but the coupe layout offered them enough comfort to make short trips with ease. Both were impressed by the ease of access provided by the power controls mounted to the outboard shoulder position on each of the two front seats that allow the operator to quickly and efficiently move the seats fore and aft.
My car looked crisp, but low-key in its Alpine White paint, but its interior colour scheme was another story. The car has ultra flamboyant, Coral Red seating surfaces and door panel inserts which almost glowed when set against the predominantly black colour palate of the rest of the interior. The car’s interior is also dressed up with a titanium coloured, textured aluminum overlay that bisects the dashboard and two doors, as well as shrouds the upper portion of the centre console around the shifter and iDrive control. This splash of metal adds a sporty element to the luxurious appointments that dominate the passenger compartment, but also seemed more durable and resistant to scuffs and scratches than the polished plastic and wood pieces used in many of its counterparts.
The 335is Coupé rides on lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in performance rubber, a combination that helps it track true and grip the road like a champion. A sport exhaust system delivers a throaty rumble when the car sits at idle, but its true bark is heard when the car is driven in anger. Enthusiast drivers will relish the exhaust note. I know I did.
The profile reveals subtle aerodynamic skirting integrated into the lower bodywork, but it is the aggressive front and rear bumper treatments (M Aerodynamics Package), twin black chrome tailpipes, and what appears to be a rear diffuser that reveal that is a performance machine. Other unique styling cues include high gloss black mirror caps and kidney grille surrounds.
All the luxury equipment expected in a car of this class was present and accounted for on my test car, but extras included a heated steering wheel, navigation with voice control, park distance control, Sirius satellite radio, leather M Sport seats (with exceptional side bolsters), an Alcantara gearshift boot, and stainless steel pedals.
It is no secret that BMW is targeting those buyers looking for a dual-purpose car that is equally at home navigating through traffic downtown as it is running hot laps at a weekend track day, but for whom an M3 is financially out of reach. As a result, the car has been equipped with a higher-capacity cooling fan, supplementary radiator, and an oil cooler to help the car perform at optimal levels, and enlarged air inlets help direct cool air where it needs to be.
The car rides firmly due to the fact that it has been fitted with stiffer shocks and springs but I still found it comfortable enough for longer commutes. Steering is communicative, as the steering is lightly assisted and speed dependent. Brakes are big, ventilated discs that proved predictable and fade free.
I must admit that the 335is Coupé is a very appealing package. Sure it gives up almost 100 horsepower and the visceral punch of the M3’s V8, but it has more torque, and even more importantly, costs an awful lot less money. In this economy, faced with outlandish gasoline prices, I hope enough enthusiast buyers purchase the 335is to make it worthwhile and cost effective for BMW to continue to make such special machines.
Technical Specifications: 2011 BMW 335is Coupé
Base Price (MSRP): $58,800
Price as tested: $68,745 (includes Executive Package -$3,900, Navigation Package -$2,000; 7- Speed Double Clutch Transmission-$1,950; Destination-$1,995; A/C Tax-$100)
Type: 5-passenger, compact, 2-door coupé
Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive
Engine: Twin-turbo, 3.0-litre, DOHC, inline 6-cylinder engine, 24 valves.
Horsepower: 320 @ 5,900 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 332 @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or optional 7-Speed Double Clutch Automatic Transmission
Cargo capacity: 430 litres (15.1 cu.ft.)
Top speed: 240 km/h (electronically limited)
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 5.3 s
Fuel economy [L/100 km]: Automatic- City 12.4 L (27 mpg); Hwy 8.4 L (34 mpg)
Manual- City 11.8 L (24 mpg); Hwy 7.6 L (37 mpg)