2009 BMW 335i xDrive
2009 BMW 335i xDrive
2009 BMW 335i xDrive. Click image to enlarge

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2009 BMW 3 Series

Ottawa, Ontario – I’m confused. This is a winter driving test and where has winter gone? Since the 2009 BMW 335i xDrive sedan arrived, winter has mysteriously disappeared. Over the past two weeks we’ve had only a light dusting of snow and temperatures have remained on the comfortable side of -15 C. For a few days, record setting high temperatures and rain threatened to wash away any memory that this is a tough climate to live in.

But the daily thaw/freeze cycle has left Ottawa streets littered with potholes the size of sub-compact cars. Manhole covers are like islands surrounded by moats, cracks have opened up like crevasses, ridges rise up like concrete curbs. The streets are obstacle courses and Ottawans drive like slalom racers, weaving in and out of the asphalt pits and pylons. Drivers need to be alert and vigilant or risk losing a wheel or bits of body to the road hazards.

It’s not ideal conditions for a BMW 3-series sedan, a car that is the very definition of a sport sedan. This is a powerful car, with 300 twin turbocharged horsepower in a right-sized four-door package. It is both a practical family vehicle and a car that begs to be driven. It is quick and nimble, with a taught suspension capable of communicating even minor flaws in the road. But the flaws in the road are anything but minor and test both the BMW’s agility and the driver’s reflexes. Hit one of those holes and you know it: you feel the jarring crash and feel for the pain that has been inflicted on the car. If you have a conscience you will stop, check all four wheels and caress a fender before cursing the city for leaving the roads in such awful conditions.

You can’t have it both ways. If you want a cushy ride, something that fills each hole with giant balloon style tires and smoothes out the frost heaves with its jelly-filled suspension, then forget about the 335i. And forget about the fun of driving.

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