2009 BMW 335i Coupe: Twin Turbo Performance

Published: 21st September 2009
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After making their redesigned debut for 2007, the current-generation coupes were "redesignated" for 2009, topped by the new 335i xDrive coupe with all-wheel drive and a 300-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. This is BMW's first twin-turbo inline six. In fact, turbocharging has not been used on BMWs since the 1980s, when it appeared on a handful of models.

Engineers decided to revive turbocharging, because of recent technical developments. Relatively small turbochargers minimize the dreaded "turbo lag," since they build up pressure much faster than does a single, larger unit. BMW also offers a 328i coupe with a 230-hp, naturally aspirated 3.0-liter six-cylinder that uses magnesium-aluminum construction. Transmission choices for both include a standard six-speed manual gearbox, or an available six-speed Steptronic automatic.

Each model is offered with xDrive, which is BMW's version of all-wheel drive. On smooth, dry roads, xDrive delivers what BMW calls a "sporty, rear-wheel-drive feel," which is precisely what most shoppers are seeking. Along wet or snow-packed roads, on the other hand, xDrive "automatically sends more torque to the axle with more traction," promising helpful front/rear weight balance. Making iDrive an option lets those who favor high-tech control select that unit, but allows those who prefer a simpler, traditional configuration to omit the love-it/hate-it system.

Headlight design, taillamp detailing, outside mirrors and interior appearance were created specifically for coupes. Two-doors feature a long wheelbase, short overhangs, a setback passenger compartment, and a low, sleek roofline. The long hood reflects BMW's tradition of inline six-cylinder engines. Corona light rings that serve as BMW-distinctive daytime running lights accent the standard xenon adaptive headlights.

Rear occupants in the four-passenger coupes have a center console between individual seats with separate storage boxes, additional air outlet vents, and footwell lights. Standard leatherette upholstery comes in Black or Cream Beige, with leather optional. BMW's iDrive controller is an option, too. One helpful feature is the seatbelt feeder arm, which automatically moves forward, presenting the seatbelt to the driver and front passenger when doors are closed and the key inserted. Access to rear seats has been made easier, according to BMW, but it's still a chore for the less agile.

There's nothing the least bit gaudy or garish about a 3 Series coupe, which relies strictly upon clean lines and smooth curves to establish its presence. Performance is precisely as energetic as expected from BMW. The twin-turbo engine has all the go-power anyone will need, available in an instant. In typical BMW form, the manual gearbox shifts with ease and finesse, requiring a mere flick of the wrist. Adeptly matched to the gearbox, BMW's clutch engages with smooth confidence.

Engineers have given the 335i a surprisingly comfortable ride, considering the coupe's impressive level of road-hugging expertise. Rear-drive 3 Series coupes are well known for their sure-footed behavior, but xDrive adds an extra helping of assurance. Ordinarily, there's no evidence of its existence apart from a badge on the fender. When the pavement turns wet or slick, however, it's ready to take action as needed.

Only a slight rumble can be heard from the twin exhaust pipes. Otherwise, the 335i is fairly quiet. Steering feel and response don't get much better, or more satisfying. Particularly comfortable front seats provide sufficient space all around, though the front compartment is a bit on the snug side.

Prices start at $38,125 (including destination charge) for a 328i coupe with rear-wheel drive. For a 335xi coupe with the twin-turbo engine and all-wheel drive, the outlay escalates to $44,625. An automatic transmission adds $1,325. Additional options include Active Cruise Control, rear Park Distance Control, a navigation system, heated front seats, an iPod/USB adapter, and a Premium or Sport Package (including upgraded tires).


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