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2012 BMW 335i (pictures)

BMW puts a lot of tech at the disposal of its small sedan, but a few bad choices in the options make it a boring car to drive.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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BMW updated its 3 Series for the 2012 model year, refining the look and significantly changing the trims and options available.
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In a new look for BMW's passenger cars, the grille looks lower to the ground, with more of a drop-off from hood to leading edge.
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The 335i's engine is little changed from the past model year, using direct injection, a twin-scroll turbo, and variable valve timing to generate 306 horsepower. Elements such as regenerative braking help the 335i get fuel economy in the high 20s.
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The 335i is a good-looking car, but not particularly stunning from the side.
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Both Modern and Luxury line 335is get a suspension tuned more for comfort than for sport, but an adaptive suspension is available.
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The trunk runs surprisingly deep, and the rear seats fold down, allowing for even more cargo room.
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This particular car's cabin came in Leather Dakota Oyster, an option that encases passengers in the color of old computers.
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The rear seats offer a decent amount of legroom.
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Most of the tech features in the cabin come as options, such as navigation and BMW's new Apps connectivity.
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This trim piece has a very plasticky feel, and is called Fineline Pure.
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The Modern line for the 335i includes this beige leather key case, another strike against this particular trim choice.
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BMW has gone to an electric power-steering system in the 2012 335i. In base form, it feels lifeless, but it can be optioned up to a variable steering system.
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The standard BMW shifter controls an eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is also available, each as no-cost options. A sport version of this eight-speed automatic can also be optioned.
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Buttons labeled Sport and Comfort, appearing in most new BMW models, change the engine programming.
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Eco Pro is one of the drive modes actuated by the Comfort button. It maximizes fuel economy.
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The surround-view camera system makes it easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces. An automatic parallel-parking system is also available as an option.
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The rearview camera includes active trajectory lines that move as the wheel is turned.
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The iDrive controller sits perched on this horrible Fineline Pure trim.
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The ConnectedDrive app lets the driver listen to news items from a feed.
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The navigation system stores its maps on a hard drive. These maps can be viewed in 3D or 2D.
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The navigation system uses traffic data to dynamically route around problems.
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The navigation system also integrates Google search, which gets its Internet connection through BMW's telematics service.
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The main LCD can show a split screen, here with the phone system on one side and route guidance in the auxiliary screen.
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The 335i offers a very satisfactory range of audio sources, including the car's own hard drive. The External Devices menu leads to more sources.
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The stereo system shows album artwork when available.
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The Harman-Kardon audio system is an upgrade in the 3 Series, and includes 13 speakers along with a 420-watt amp.

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