2011 BMW 335i Coupe Road Test Review

John Birchard - CAP staff
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Not too many years ago, the idea of owning a BMW had become something of a joke. Yuppies had taken to "Beemers" in a big way, The 2011 BMW 335i Coupe remains the yardstick to compare all other sports coupes to. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)
transforming the brand into just another fad, like Tommy Hilfiger clothes or certain brands of vodka or cologne. If this year it was "in," next year for sure it would be "out" as the status seeking crowd moved on to the Next Big Thing. BMW, to their credit, didn't let the Yupsters have undue influence on the course of the car company. The folks in Munich kept turning out better automobiles with appeal that went far beyond the famous blue-and-white "Roundel" emblem on the hood and the prestige that accompanies it.

BMWs perennially make nearly all the "Top Ten" lists of most desirable cars. They do it, not by bribery or extortion, but by constantly improving and refining their products. If it's not actually 
The Ultimate Driving Machine, one at least gets the feeling that they're working toward that goal. Case in point: the 2011 BMW 335i Coupe.

On paper, the 3 Series Coupe is not a whole lot different from other carmakers' coupes. The engine is in the front and the driving wheels are in the rear. A manual transmission is offered.  A variety of electronic gizmos make it more difficult to get in trouble defying the laws of physics. There's leather this and power that and automatic doodads galore. There is no easy access to the rear seats and not a whole lot of room in the trunks of many of them.

It's in the execution of these features and qualities that BMW stands out. Take, for example, the power driver's seat. It is adjustable in its height, seat angle, lumbar support and its memory of settings for individual drivers. But the Bimmer seat can also widen or narrow the side bolsters to make you snug and well-supported for hard cornering. And if you're not getting the proper thigh support, you can extend or shorten the leading edge of the seat bottom until you're truly comfortable. The seats on my test vehicle were upholstered in Cream Beige Dakota leather, which complemented the exterior finish of Crimson (also known as "Hello, Officer") Red.

The wood trim is real, made from dark burl walnut. The clutch pedal action is not abrupt, but smooth and progressive. It's the look, the feel, and the sound that, added together, make the 335i an eminently desirable ride for so many enthusiasts. And it's the performance. Choose a gear, press the accelerator and good things happen quickly. The 335i Coupe with the six-speed manual transmission sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, according to the company. Top speed is electronically limited to 210 km/h (130 mph). Fuel economy figures indicate that an EPA equivalent of 12.4 L/100km in the city and 8.4 on the highway are achievable.

A word about the engine: Is there an in-line six anywhere that is better than BMW's? They have been massaging this line of powerplants for years and the result is an extraordinarily smooth and exhilarating collection of hard and software under the hood. For 2011, the engine is equipped with a new turbocharger, Valvetronic and double-VANOS steplessly variable valve timing that combine for 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque over a wide range -- 1,200 to 5,000 rpm.

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the 335i Coupe is $42,650. The Crimson Red paint job, the walnut wood trim, power moonroof and sport suspension are included in that price. On my test car, the options brought the total to $53,400.  You can order all-wheel drive and/or the six-speed automatic transmission for additional bucks.

German luxury cars are notoriously expensive to maintain, but BMW eases the pinch with their four-year, 80,000-km full maintenance program, in which you get oil changes and other periodic maintenance, plus wear and tear items such as windshield wiper inserts and brake parts at no charge. The vehicle itself carries a four-year, 80,000-mile limited warranty and a 12-year warranty against rust-through. And you get the company's four-year, unlimited mileage Roadside Assistance Program.

When all is said and written, it's the driving that remains the outstanding feature of the 2011 BMW 335i Coupe. Slide behind the leather-covered steering wheel, punch the start-stop button and as the engine springs to life. A flick of the wrist and the shift lever snicks into first gear. The delicious murmur of the inline six begins to assert itself and you move up briskly through the gears. Is the freeway entrance lane cramped and brief? Make short work of it with a punch of the accelerator.

Even in the bumper-to-bumper congestion of a too-crowded highway, the BMW's cabin is serenely quiet. The ride is firm and the handling sharp. It goes where you point it without complaint. It's a car that converts the hum-drum of the homeward commute into a welcome adventure. It is a driver's car, plain and simple. Do you suppose they'd let me keep it?

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, BMW, 2011, 3 Series, 335i Coupe, $40,000 - $49,999, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: BMW

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