BMW 335i Coupe

If you had to ask me, “Luke, if you could have any car what would it be?” without hesitation my reply would be, “A BMW M3”. However after spending a week in the BMW 3 Series 335i Coupé, should you ask me that question again, and happen to include “Now choose with your head and not your heart”, I would in no doubt reply, “A BMW 335i Coupé”.

Make no mistake, my passion and enthusiasm for owning an M3 has in no way diminished, that is for certain. But if it were my money, my monthly instalments, my insurance and my everyday car it’d be a no brainer but to opt for the 335i Coupé – The thinking man’s M3.

I’m not a fan of the regular 3 Series model, there’s too many middle management types driving them around talking on cell phones and tailgating the masses. I don’t think it’s particularly good looking, although the recent facelift has managed to juj things up a bit.

The 3 Series Coupé though on the other hand, now there’s a good looking piece of metal. ‘Understated’ is a word that kept popping into my head when looking at the Coupé in the metal, and it is definitely far more stylish than it is racy. In my test unit’s Blue Water Metallic livery it’s all very standard looking until you take a look round back. The badge and the twin exhausts give its ‘sleeper’ deception away, make no mistake this Beemer is not to be taken lightly.

What lies under the bonnet of the 335i Coupé is to petrolhead’s what Jimmy Choos are to fashionista’s. Take BMW’s iconic 3.0 litre straight six engine, which by the way is by no means underpowered,  and…add a Turbo, mate that to BMW’s superb new 7 Speed Dual Clutch gearbox and you have petrolhead heaven.

I had driven the BMW 535i not long ago, which essentially uses the same engine, but in 3 Series Coupé guise, I have no problem in saying that it is without a doubt the best engine I have ever driven, and possibly the best car.

Seven gears may sound a trifle over-the-top but trust me when I say it isn’t. You do have the option of a manual override with paddle shifters located on the steering wheel, but the gearbox is so good that you actually don’t need them. Finger the little button just ahead of the handbrake labelled ‘Sport’ sharpens the steering, throttle response and the basically gives the gearbox a slap on the back of the head, because once in Sport mode (the only mode), the speed at which this gearbox can change gears has to be experienced to be believed. Flatten the accelerator and you’re off like a Terrier on a sugar high, with DST (Dynamic Stability Control) intact, there’s a chirrup of wheel spin, thereafter only a relentless wave of power, gear changes and blurred scenery as the horizon surges towards you, accompanied by one of the most spine-tingling, goosebump inducing engine notes, ever!

Hustle the 335i Coupé through a windy road and you’ll be rewarded with firmly planted backside and pinpoint sharp steering. The car is beautifully balanced and I only wish I had the space and the talent to push it to its limits in say, the confines of a race track.

Disengage the Sport button, navigate to your favourite radio station and the 335i does the relaxed cruiser impersonation in typical BMW style. The Coupé’s interior is beautifully crafted from soft plastics and leather. The switchgear operates with a Germanic tactility American and Asian manufacturers could only dream of. No single thing is not thought of or catered for, even the seatbelts which sit far away and out of reach due to the Coupé’s long doors, are pushed forward and almost presented slave-like by little mechanical arms, returning to their hidden positions once driver and passenger are firmly and safely buckled up.

Driving the 335i Coupé like it was supposed to driven, one could expect frequent garage forecourt visits, but those seven gears I spoke of earlier definitely help in achieving quite frankly an unbelievable 11l/100km average fuel consumption. Excellent considering the cars performance.

I could go on at length and list all the standard features present on the 335i Coupé, it would bore you and space constraints prevail. Suffice to say that every conceivable luxury item is present or accounted for or can be ordered as an option.

As nice as the nice to have features are though, in my opinion they are nothing more than a distraction from what is a beautiful driver’s car. In the week I drove the BMW 335i Coupé I rarely listened to the radio or bothered to play with the impressive i-Drive computer control system. I quite happily do away with all the luxury items put the windows down, and to listen to than the howl of that turbo charged, three litre, BMW straight six.

3 Series Coupe Standard Price Range

320i Manual R399 500.00

320i Steptronic Automatic R418 100.00

325i Manual R435 500.00

325i Stpetronic Automatic R470 100.00

335i Manual R629 000.00

335i Sport Automatic Transmission with Dual Clutch R656 150.00 (Tested)

Prices include a 5 Year/100 000 km Motorplan, non-contributing service and maintenance contract and are exclusive of CO2 Tax

Thank you to Johan from Total Product Management Services and BMW SA for the use of their test unit.

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Luke

Former Man-Handled regular and car freak, Luke is the STIG and a huge fan of Jeremy Clarkson and James May (Top Gear). Visit his blog for more: www.drivensa.co.za or his Man-Handled archive on StyleScoop.

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