When the 2007 BMW 335i coupe arrives in showrooms on September 1, it will be the first gasoline-powered Bimmer in a generation to incorporate a turbocharger. With a sleek, newly designed body, the 300-horsepower 335i is the most powerful non-M3-series BMW coupe ever, and is also the most high-tech. Driving the sport-tuned 335i is a pleasure: bucket loads of torque in each gear are made usable by precise steering and magnetic handling. Our tester was equipped with the optional Sport package, which gave us sport seats with power-adjustable backrest width, 18-inch alloy wheels with W-rated run-flat tires, and an increased limited top speed of 155mph. Also available is the Cold Weather package, which adds a headlight cleaning system, heated front seats with expanded heating area, and a ski bag. (We venture to suggest, however, that those wishing to muck around in the new 3-series coupe in the snow wait for the launch of the all-wheel-drive new 328xi later this year.)
In the cabin, the 335i delivers all of BMW's latest optional tech systems: Bluetooth hands-free calling, GPS navigation via the second-generation iDrive interface, and adaptive cruise control are all offered as stand-alone options. A surround-sound Logic7 audio system with the ability to play advanced digital audio formats (MP3, WMA) comes standard, as does a generic auxiliary input jack for those wishing to stream their iPod libraries through the car's 13 speakers. Other standard tech includes adaptive headlights, adaptive brake lights, and a unique seatbelt presenter, which (in theory) saves you the trouble of stretching. Those looking to buy the 2007 335i coupe will have to stretch to $41,295 for the basic model, and a bit further according to their a la carte option preferences.
The cockpit of the 2007 BMW 335i is a snug fit. Headroom is adequate for those taller than 6 feet, but NBA stars will have to open the sunroof to drive it. Leatherette sport seats grip the driver's and passenger's hindquarters in a way that suggests the car's designers anticipate plenty of lateral acceleration. And while coupe rear seats are often only for insurance-reduction purposes, those in the 335i are surprisingly usable for shorter grown-ups. A central rear dividing console means that the 335i is only a two-plus-two, but the fact that it is a two-plus-anything is commendable. Leather seats--including a superluxurious Dakota leather package--are optional and available in a choice of three colors.
Dark burl walnut wood trim for the dash, door panels, and front and rear central consoles comes standard on the 335i, with the option of light poplar wood or brushed aluminum at no extra cost. A thin strip of wood (or aluminum) traverses the entire width of the dash, giving the cabin a wide perspective.
One of the most unique interior tech features of the 335i is its automatic seat-belt presenter--a mechanical arm that deploys to serve up the seat belt to driver and front passenger each time they enter the car. After offering the belt for about 10 seconds, the arm retracts, irrespective of whether the belt has been taken or not. We found the autopresenter a novelty, then a pain, then a useful feature: it takes some time to quell the reflex urge to reach around and grab the belt manually--a course of action that is sure to result in the belt becoming detached from the arm, and so completely out of reach. With some practice at --ahem--restraining ourselves and waiting for the autopresentation, we found the device useful as well as deliciously kitsch.
The 335i's auto seat-belt presenter deploys to serve driver and front passenger with their restraints.
The 335i's head unit comprises a wedge-shaped panel into which is set the HVAC controls, buttons for the optional heated seats and park-distance control, and the standard single-disc CD player, which plays MP3 and WMA CDs while providing full ID3-tag information on the dot-matrix LCD display for both. We found the audio system intuitive for navigating homemade CDs: using the head unit's hard buttons, we were able to make folder and track selections, although the two-line display limited the number of tracks shown at any one time.
All 2007 BMW coupes come with a central console-mounted generic auxiliary input jack as standard, and plugging in our iPod Nano enabled us to stream songs through the BMW's audio system, although without the option to control anything other than volume via the head unit. Those looking for a more advanced iPod integration can purchase a BMW interface for iPod as a dealer installed option, which devolves total control of the iPod to the stereo buttons while displaying track and artist information and simultaneously charging the player.
An auxiliary-input jack comes standard on all 2007 BMW coupes, while a dedicated iPod connector is available as an option.
The 335i comes with BMW's 13-speaker Logic7 audio system with Sirius satellite prewiring; sound quality is excellent, as one would expect with the arrangement of so many speakers in such a small space.
For models with iDrive, a pod on top of the dash houses the multipurpose LCD screen, with the distinctive dial set into the sloping central console in a similar fashion to that of the 2006 BMW M6. Navigation is the same system that we reviewed in the 2006 BMW M5 and BMW M6.
iDrive is not needed for Bluetooth hands-free phone integration, which is integrated into the BMW Assist or can be added as an a la carte option or as part of the Premium option package. Pairing a phone with the OEM hands-free rig in a car usually involves a variety of menus on the LCD screen. But since our 335i didn't have one, it was done via the much more limited alphanumeric display of the audio system. Surprisingly, it seemed easier and more intuitive. The text prompts were clearly described, in spite of the limited screen real estate, and the process worked exactly as they inferred it would. We paired our Treo 650 successfully on the first try without cracking a page of the owner's manual.
Once paired, hands-free audio performance was about what we've come to expect considering a moving car is one of the worst places to attempt a speakerphone conversation unless that car is a Bentley idling at the curb with all its windows up. That said, the BMW system was on a par with others.
Without an LCD screen, pairing our phone with the 335i was lo-fi, but surprisingly straightforward.
Where the system did excel in use was its adoption of one of the more advanced Bluetooth profiles, which allowed portions of our Treo 650's call favorites and history to be copied into the car's memory. That meant calling one of our speed-dial numbers or returning a missed call did not require ever touching the phone; those selections are echoed on the car's display for easy execution.
The 2007 BMW 335i coupe is distinctly more feminine in its body design than its ancestors. A short front overhang and slanted headlights give it a hint of aggression, but a longer wheelbase and hood than the outgoing 3-series coupe and subtly flared fenders give the body style a more flowing profile.
In short, it looks good, and--as we found out in the Comfort section--it comes with a lot of nice-to-have cabin gadgets. But the 2007 BMW 335i's real raison d'être is its driving experience, and gripping its thick, three-spoke leather-bound steering wheel confirms your suspicions that you could have been a racing driver had you been given the breaks.
Eyebrows were undoubtedly raised across the auto world when BMW announced that its new coupe would be the first piece of Bavarian Motor Work in a generation to incorporate a turbocharger. Concerns about turbo lag and poor fuel economy have meant that forced induction is a rare commodity outside of diesel cars nowadays. But the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder 335i is designed to minimize the two classic pitfalls in two ways. To counter turbo lag, the use of twin turbos with low pressure thresholds in combination with the 335i's wide torque bands (peak torque of 3000 pounds per foot is available from 1,400 to 5,000rpm) means that the car does not rely heavily on turbo boost to attain top-end performance. Secondly, the incorporation of direct high-pressure fuel injection using recently developed piezo injectors gives the 335i an increased 2to 3 percent fuel savings and 20 percent fewer emissions. BMW's double VANOS variable valve timing system also comes standard on the 335i, further enhancing performance and reducing emissions.
The 2007 BMW 335i comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine making 300 horsepower.
If this all sounds good on paper, it sounds even better when installed behind the wheel. We took our manual 335i tester on a spirited spin up the coast of Northern California, and we have to admit to being suitably impressed. Our manual tester was equipped with the optional Sports package (18-inch alloy wheels, run-flat tires, power lumbar support, and an increased limited top speed of 155mph); and speed-sensitive power steering to give us all the performance available. Excepting one occasion on which we pushed the car past its 7,000rpm redline (whoops), the 335i handed everything we threw at it and every bend that we threw it into.
The 335i's wide torque bands meant that it delivered admirable pick-up in almost any gear, although howling all the way through second was by far our favorite maneuver. We had read all BMW's marketing guff about the absence of turbo lag and set out with a critical eye to disprove it. However, the marketeers seem to have been telling the truth: aside from the odd sporadic twitch when pushing the gears into high revs, which could have been the variable valve timing kicking in, we have to report that turbo performance in the 335i is , if not seamless, then very smooth indeed.
One point of mild criticism we do have is the tendency of the manual shifter to resist engagement on occasion--particularly when changing into our favored second gear. We found repeatedly that we had to row the shifter back and forth to get it through the gate, to the detriment of our driving flow.
BMW has tweaked the design of the 335i to ensure an exact 50:50 front/ rear weight distribution, even putting the battery in the trunk--check. Tracking into the bends was flawless, and with sport-tuned aluminum front double pivot- and five-link rear suspension as standard, the 355i's handling was so precise that we felt like taking the traction control off just to see if we could make the car misbehave. Had we done so, we could have still relied on the 335i's all-round ventilated disc brakes with brake fade compensation to ensure snappy, linear deceleration.
The EPA has yet to rate the 335i for fuel economy: in our exuberant 200-mile drive, we clocked an average of just less than 20mpg, which was surprisingly high.
We always put safety last in our reviews, but it was firmly at the front of our minds when larruping the 335i through the winding mountain roads of Marin County. Most of the systems working to keep drivers of the 335i on the road are hidden to those in the cabin: dynamic stability control, electronic brake proportioning, ABS, dynamic brake control, dynamic traction control, and hill- descent control are all standard.
Other standard safety gear on the 335i includes adaptive Xenon headlights (which swivel according to the car's steering angle), cornering lights (an angled beam at each front corner to help visibility in large steering angles), and adaptive brake lights, which increase in brightness based on the intensity of the brake force applied.
Safety in numbers: we took the 335i through its paces at a preview event in California.
Optional active safety features on the 335i are active (or adaptive) cruise control and park-distance control, both of which come as a la carte options. BMW Assist, which provides roadside assistance and other customer-service and in-car telematics, is also available as a stand-alone option.
Passive safety comprises front seat-belt tensioners and force limiters, front- and rear-seat side-impact head-protection systems, and BMW's advanced crash safety management that deploys safety systems when needed.
Front passengers get dual-threshold front-impact airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags. The 335i has yet to be rated by the NHTSA for impact and rollover safety.
It comes with BMW's 4 years/50,000 miles warranty and a 12-year/unlimited-mile limited rust protection.