Cooley's Logbook: 2012 BMW 335i

It's nice to see that BMW is mortal after all. The 3 Series has been about the most honored affordable car in the last couple of decades, but the one they sent us this time left us flat.

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We love BMWs and why not: They get dropped off here at CNET, we romp in them and we never have to pay for them. But when the 2012 BMW 335i arrived, it struck an oddly discordant note.

The cabin of the example we were sent was ugly. There's no other way to put it. A sea of cold beige, oyster-colored gauge faces like on a cheap bling watch, and an awful, lumpy wood console and dash trim that looked like skin off a diseased elephant.

The basic suspension in this Modern trim car was sort of soft, and the automatic gearbox way too eager to hit top gear and impress the EPA rather than me. You can option up a more lively suspension but at this price ($42,400) you will expect more.

You know by now I'm not a fan of automatic engine start-stop technology in BMWs: It makes the car shake from nose to tail every time it starts or stops and just doesn't befit the otherwise smooth inputs you get from this car's powertrain. Luckily, BMW dealers are now authorized to make a software tweak that defaults the whole shuddering mess to remain off unless you engage it.

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