Test Drive: 2012 BMW 335i Luxury car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
2012 BMW 335i Luxury. Click image to enlarge

And so we found that the 335i is best judged on its Luxury trappings, and here, too it is a great success. While its size has grown over the previous generation (4,624 mm to the 2011’s 4541), its 2,810 mm wheelbase shows the limitations of a compact platform, and despite excellent flexibility with its adaptable damping system and fully independent suspension, it was still prone to being tossed around over rough pavement. That being said, the 335i was admirably smooth on all but those roughest sections and yet firmed up nicely for a bit of added handling prowess when Sport or Sport+ modes were engaged. Those modes also sharpened throttle and transmission response, but I was once again content saving gas and commuting in luxury in ECO Pro mode, possibly because I had exorcised most of my aggression in the 328i, or possibly because the manual transmission and abundant power just made me feel like I didn’t need to rush or play.

In our one venture on our route through a series of backroad twists and tight handling challenges, the tires gave up too early and the transmission simply didn’t engage us to push the engine and chassis for all it was worth. A stark contrast with the 335i Coupe I drove several years back that pushed all the right buttons and had me contemplating ever-more illicit manouevres in order to feel out its abilities. Once again: luxury car, not a sports car.

Test Drive: 2012 BMW 335i Luxury car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
Test Drive: 2012 BMW 335i Luxury car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
Test Drive: 2012 BMW 335i Luxury car test drives reviews luxury cars bmw
2012 BMW 335i Luxury. Click image to enlarge

So as a luxury car, what does the 335i offer aside from that luxurious starting price? Expensive option packages, of course… The Premium Package for $4,500 added alarm, universal remote, backup camera, comfort access, auto-dimming mirrors, park distance control, navigation and the superb 600-watt Harman/Kardon sound system w/ nine-channel equalizer and 16 speakers. Driver Assistance package adds a couple high-tech safety systems with lane departure warning and blind spot detection for $800. BMW Apps and smartphone integration are $300 and standalone options include Sirius satellite radio tuner at $450, metallic paint for $800, self-parking system for $450 (which only works under a very strict set of conditions), BMW Assist with extended Bluetooth for $850, Surround View overhead camera system for $900 and the very cool but very expensive head-up display at $1500. All told, my tester ran it up to $61,750 before adding the $1995 destination fee and various and sundry taxes.

Is a fully loaded BMW 335i a good value? Not exactly. Is it a great car? Absolutely. If you want all the gadgets, you can have them, and all but the self-parking system worked intuitively and seamlessly. The self-parking system is predicated on a specific pattern of passing an empty spot between two other vehicles in order for it to identify the desired space and activate the parking system, which will steer you into the spot as you gently apply throttle and brake as necessary. The one other nit I’d pick is with the head-up display, which is very cool, incredibly effective at night, and fine during the day, but if you wear polarized sunglasses, it becomes almost invisible.

On the other hand, the 6.5-inch screen on the dash is always clear and visible, even in bright sunlight and with no hood to shade its screen — impressive. It’s also one of the best resolution screens I’ve seen recently with incredibly crisp and stylish graphics, as good as some tablets I’ve seen, though not touchscreen because iDrive makes navigation a simple, straightforward affair.




About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.