First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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Innsbruck, Austria – The message delivered by a somewhat stern police officer addressing the journalists here in Innsbruck, was that speeding is not tolerated in the Tyrolean Alps (at least, not on the roads, although I guess you can ski as fast as you want). In any event, to make the point, the fine for going 40 km/h over the speed limit is a massive 2,900 euros (about $4,150).

Well, that takes the wind out of your sails. Especially when driving BMW’s 335i version of its new 3 Series Coupé, which has under the hood a 3.0-litre, direct injected, twin-turbo, inline six-cylinder engine that makes a whopping 300 horsepower and matching 300 lb-ft of torque.

The BMW engineers gathered at this event seemed particularly well pleased with these numbers, feeling that with the 335i they have conquered the contradictions between power and tractability, and furthermore, between ride and handling. Typically you can have one or each, but in the 335i, that conventional wisdom has truly gone away.

I don’t recall driving a more balanced machine. The power from this engine is so smooth and so substantial, that you feel any passing or accelerating manoeuvre is within its ability. The reserves of torque are diesel-like, with maximum numbers available from a very low 1,300 rpm all the way to 5,000 rpm.

First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

You can easily put the car in fourth gear at 50 km/h, floor the accelerator, and have it rocket to triple digit speeds without the slightest complaint. Testing from 80-120 km/h using second and third gears is equally impressive, taking about 3.4 seconds. The six-speed manual is a delight; the conventional (not SMG) six-speed automatic with sculpted aluminum paddle shifters takes a bit off the instant response of the manual, but is still very quick and satisfying. Given the fun of manually shifting in this car, versus the constraints of everyday driving, buyers may have to flip a coin on this choice.

Our test cars were equipped with BMW’s active steering, which significantly adds to the car’s feeling of agility and quickness (even a u-turn takes only half a rotation of the steering wheel).

First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

It’s an optional extra, but you won’t regret the additional cost as its benefits bring fully into relief the enthusiast character of this car. The handling is so sharp (19″ wheels are available), the cornering so flat and brisk as it slaloms through the Tyrolean curves, that you wonder how the 335i can also have such a quiet, smooth ride. Indeed the 18″ Michelin run-flat tires make virtually no road noise, the rush of air over and under the car is almost inaudible, and nary a bump or upset is felt through the advanced suspension, which BMW describes as the most sophisticated in its class. Weight distribution is a perfect 50:50, front-to-rear, and the car is, of course, rear-wheel driven.

Quiet as it is, you can still enjoy the stirring sound of the engine as you take it up and down through the gears. Its behaviour is likened by the BMW executives to a V8, but because of the turbos and direct injection, it can be packaged with two cylinders less. The 0-100 km/h time is 5.6 seconds, according to BMW, with a redline of 7,000 rpm, and combined fuel consumption listed as 9.5 l/100 km (presumably, it must be cautioned, via a gentle throttle).

First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Photo: BMW – Click image to enlarge

Fortunately, the sheetmetal doesn’t let down the performance, and Harris Mann is perhaps vindicated by the successful presence of such a prominent swage line along the side of the 3 Series Coupe (Mr. Mann put a swage line on his “Shape of Things to Come” Triumph TR7 from the 1970s, and was vilified at the time for this). Longer and wider than the outgoing model, the latest coupe is perhaps reminiscent of the 6 Series, without that car’s controversial deck lid. In any event, it’s a lovely vehicle that shares no exterior panels at all with the 3 Series sedan, even though there’s a clear resemblance. It’s pleasantly compact without being small, and turns heads even among the exotica found on European roads.

First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Likewise the interior is a model of luxury and functionality. Its designer, Karl Hans Osada, came to BMW from Audi five years ago and clearly brings with him a special appreciation of materials, fit, finish and appearance. Troubling, however was the lack of storage space in the centre console for keys, wallet, ‘phone. It’s the preferred place for such things, but the delicately narrow console precludes that option.

The only real negative was the navigation system, whose avatar seemed to go mental in our car, barking out contradictory instructions one after the other, in rapid-fire sequence.

First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
First Drive: 2007 BMW 335i Coupé luxury cars first drives bmw
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Photos: BMW – Click image to enlarge

It was a bizarre experience solved by switching her off (and recalling jokes about HAL in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”), using a paper map, asking directions and following signs. This still works quite well.

Designed for the enthusiast, the 2007 BMW 335i Coupé is a driver’s car that seats four adults comfortably, offers outstanding performance and features a large 440-litre trunk for luggage on a long trip. It’s packed with safety features, occupant conveniences (a motorized arm profers your shoulder belt), and performance technologies. It must be considered the benchmark for all vehicles in this class.

The 2007 BMW 335i Coupé debuts in Canada in September 2006, along with a 328i version. These will be followed in October by a 328xi, and BMW Canada is hopeful about subsequently bringing a 335xi. Expect a cabriolet in 2007. Pricing for the 335i will begin in the low $50,000 range, with the lesser-powered models correspondingly lower.


At a glance – 2007 BMW 3 Series Coupé

  • Type: Two-door, four-passenger, performance coupe
  • Notable: Sizzling performance, sultry looks, exclusivity
  • Available: September 2006
  • Pricing: Starting in the mid-to-high $40,000, to low $50,000 range, depending on model


Manufacturer’s web site




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).