In this type of intensive driving, the 335i tended to understeer, something I never would have expected in a BMW. The steering wheel seemed lifeless, merely serving as a control mechanism rather than offering the tied-to-the-road feeling found in other BMW models.

Just as different color choices could have saved the cabin, an optional package choice would have made this 335i more enjoyable to drive. The $1,000 Dynamic Handling package brings in adaptive-suspension technology and variable steering, which does not seem like much money to rescue a car from mediocrity. As it was, I would have been just as happy driving a Camry.

In normal driving situations, on city streets and on the freeway, the driving character of the 335i felt like nothing special. The steering lacked the heavy, engaged feel of previous generations and the ride quality didn’t justify the price of this small sedan. Again, these faults can most likely be fixed through different option choices.

If the BMW 3 Series is going to be equipped as CNET’s was, then there seems little point in getting the powerful 335i, rather than the 328i. The 335i comes with one of the best engines on the market, a 3-liter inline six-cylinder benefiting from direct injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger, with output figures of 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

Along with substantial power, BMW gives this engine excellent efficiency with tech borrowed from hybrid cars. The 335i uses regenerative braking, as do all recent BMW models, which takes generator load off the engine. Likewise, BMW went to electric power steering from a hydraulic system, also freeing up more power from the engine for actually driving the wheels.

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