3 series BMW’s have a big fan base for their nimble and athletic driving dynamics. Bavarian Motor Works has earned a reputation for building driver focused, premium automobiles. Mercedes and BMW built a major foothold in the United States during the flourishing, material 1980’s. The Germans built more and more luxurious and high performance machines. The cars were expensive and driving a Beemer with the propeller on the front was a fashion symbol of young professionals. The 3 series was BMW’s successful entry level car into the BMW hierarchy. It was their smallest and least expensive car but some would say the best for pure driving enjoyment. The 3 series was a compact car with either 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder power and light, lithe handling.
Featured here is the fifth generation of the 3 series- a very clean 2007 BMW 335i sedan. This is the mightiest car of the 3 series line with the exception of the M3- featuring a 3.0 liter inline six with two small turbochargers. Having 300 horsepower and 300 pound feet of torque all the way from 1400 rpm to 5000 rpm. In comparison the 328i normally aspirated, 3.0 six cylinder, model has only 240 horsepower. An easy way to spot a 335i is the dual exhaust pipes exiting on both sides of the bumper.
I tend to discount BMW’s as a daily driver in Los Angeles because of the disintegrating roads and the stiff ride of the cars. Riding as a passenger the car feels like a solid block of steel- a solid block that jolts your backside on expansion joints and speed bumps. The ride is stiff and the seat is firm- on smooth asphalt though it’s very level and serene. Stiff ride or not when you take the wheel you realize this is a car made for the driver- it’s a personal experience for the driver and his car. Now that you’re in control you get to have fun and the objectionable ride is forgotten.
Hop in- the door shuts with a thump. The seat holds you firmly in place and feels sporty. Adjustment is generous and it travels far back for tall drivers. Turn into traffic- the steering is heavy with no wasted motion. The stiff gas pedal has a long travel and you have to deliberately push it to initiate forward motion. Once you push through the sleepy initial travel the car surges forward. The automatic transmission short shifts 2nd and 3rd starting out, in what seems like mere feet- boom, boom. There are six speeds and the car loafs along at low rpm unless you provoke it with the gas pedal.
The ride is firm and flat, the tires staying planted to the road. The heavy steering points the nose accurately and entering a curve you can hear the BMW telling you it can go a lot faster then that! There is no body roll that can be discerned over the cornering forces the car is capable of. In the middle of a corner it feels absolutely neutral (no oversteer or understeer) owing to it’s perfect weight balance. Dips or bumps do make me slow for not knowing how the stiff chassis and low profile tires would be affected while turning.
Get on the gas and the 335i drops a couple gears and eagerly surges forward. It’s clear there is plenty of power here and the twin turbos push the car forward without any delay. The car sometimes takes a moment when you ask for power but this a characteristic of all modern computerized vehicles. Crack the whip and acceleration is rapid- the straight six happily blasting the car forward like a bird let out of a cage. The engine is very strong and satisfying with an eagerness to run to the redline.
The 6 six speed automatic does a pretty good job keeping pace with the potent acceleration. It’s possible to shift it manually via buttons on the steering wheel but the car does a better job shifting for itself. Go full throttle in first and it’s over quickly and into second. It will spin the tires and go into a drift if you’re not careful. The brakes are well matched to the performance of the car. 0-60, about 5 seconds
If you’re a BMW fan please share some of your experiences with theses impressive cars.
BMW- “The Ultimate Driving Machine”.