| Week at the Wheel | BMW 335i Luxury |
Model tested: BMW 335i Luxury
Pricing: £37,025 (£49,860 as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60
CO2 emissions: 169g/km
Combined economy: 39.2mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.5 seconds
Power: 306hp at 5,800rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,200rpm
Inside & Out:
You could say BMW played it rather safe with the exterior styling, but with such a successful model, who could really blame them? Look closely and you'll notice some neat details though, including the way the typical double-kidney grille flows into the sharp headlamps. Our particular car wore rather simple multi-spoke alloys and subtle paint for the ultimate in super saloon sleeper image.
Which combined with the beige leather interior and wood inlays to have people thinking this car was something less than it really was. Of course the layout is clean and simple, comfortable and with plenty of adjustment for the driver - allowing you to sit low in the chassis if you so wish. There's more room in the rear than the previous model and frankly there's little to fault here, even if our personal choice would be for a darker interior hue - the Sport model allows for that.
Ride & Handling:
Loaded with the adaptive M Sport suspension as our car was, the 335i really comes into its own in the bends. The steering has plenty of feel, with consistent weighting, and body control is exemplary. There's a small amount of roll on initial turn-in, just enough to communicate what is actually happening with the car's chassis, and when traction is broken (with the safety systems turned off) the balance is perfectly judged. In the dry you'll struggle to break the grip levels though, unless you are particularly aggressive with your steering or accelerator inputs.
In fact, the 335i is one of those cars that flatters its driver, making them appear to be something of an expert helmsman when driven quickly. Of course the run-flat rubber means that even in Comfort mode the ride remains on the firm side, especially when dropping into larger potholes or experiencing severe surface changes - certainly it's rarely worth venturing into Sport or Sport+ modes. The sensibly sized 18-inch alloy wheels do help a little, and with such impressive responses elsewhere in the handling spectrum it's easy to forgive the BMW the odd thump over the bumps.
Engine & Transmission:
One look at the specification should tell you just how impressive a unit this 3.0-litre turbocharged engine is: 306hp and 400Nm - the latter produced at just 1,200rpm. And from the off the 335i clearly has an abundance of power, matched by the typically BMW straight-six growl when extended. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo in the 328i may be a technical masterpiece, but it can't match the 335i's unit for emotion and feel-good factor.
Acceleration is verging on the brutal, especially for a car that in this guise looks so pipe and slippers, and there is little in the way of lag from the turbo. But key to the car's appeal and ability is its dual personality - not only can it surprise more obvious super saloons, but it'll also cruise in complete refinement. There's little wind noise and the engine itself remains smooth and quiet, no matter what you ask of it. And you can ask of it what you want, as that low-down torque figure makes it supremely flexible, offering meaningful acceleration from little over idle.
Part of the reason for this has to be down to the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. Reactions to driver inputs are sharp and measured, and the transmission shifts smoothly and efficiently. Use the car's ECO Pro mode and it will even change ratios quicker in a bid to maximise efficiency.
Equipment, Economy & Value for Money:
Nearly £40,000. That's a lot of money in anyone's books, especially for what is essentially a compact executive car - whose base model costs over £12,000 less. Our car weighed in much nearer £50,000, the adaptive chassis, media package, sport automatic gearbox and visibility package accounting for over £5,000 of that. Such niceties as the head up display (£800), glass sunroof (£870) and electric front-seats (£910) are probably best left un-ticked on the order form.
At least the incredibly low emissions (interestingly, 17g/km lower than the manual car) ensure road tax is kept manageable at £195 annually. And as long as you don't go mad on the options, the 335i should retain a decent chunk of its value when you come to sell - residuals being predictably strong for this car.