2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe; photo courtesy BMW. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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Photo Gallery: 2007 BMW 335i Coupe

What a difference a couple of turbochargers, 45 horsepower and 80 lb.-ft. of torque makes. The 2007 BMW 335 Coupe and Sedan are powered by a new blown and intercooled 3.0-litre straight-six engine that totally transforms the 3-series experience. The naturally aspirated 255-hp Valvetronic 3.0-litre is no longer in the 3-Series line-up.

Do I hear moans of trepidation amongst the Bimmer purists? Completely understandable. The “old” aluminum/magnesium engine, which still sees duty in the X3, X5, 5-Series and Z4, is a lightweight, free-revving, fuel efficient gem and defines the very essence of BMW. So why mess with a good thing?

Take heart: this all-aluminum six still runs to its 7000 rpm redline with silky smoothness and makes all the correct noises. The difference is its ability to deliver great wallops of mid-range torque. Direct injection allows for a high (for turbo) compression ratio of 10.5:1. Combine this with two small quick-to-spool turbos and the result is a BMW straight six that pulls like a V8. It does not, however, use BMW’s unique throttle-less Valvetronic technology.

2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

It doesn’t act much like a turbo motor either. There is no perceptible turbo lag and the throttle response is immediate, without the elastic feel of some pressurized engines. But here’s the literal kicker – 300 lb.-ft. of torque shows up at 1400 rpm and hangs out until the tach hits 5000 rpm. This coupe surges forth in any gear at almost any speed. It is deceivingly fast.

BMW is no stranger to turbocharging, as the automaker produces very advanced turbo-diesels for just about every market but North America. So it was only natural, what with consumers now spoiled for power, that BMW would use their knowledge to kick the 3-Series performance up a few notches. They done good.

Of course, a fine sports coupe is more than just a great engine, and here the chassis tuning, slick shifting six-speed manual transmission and pure Servotronic variable-assist steering meld with the bi-turbo motor to create a rather impressive whole.

The pedals are set up perfectly for heel and toe downshifting, and while the shift action may be a tad rubbery, it is surely accurate.

2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

My Monaco Blue Metallic tester (base price $51,600) was wearing 225/45×17 Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires, which surely cut down on handling response and ultimate grip. Nonetheless, the finely balanced, supple and communicative rear-drive chassis served up huge grins. The fact that this BMW provides a supple ride while offering up such lithe athleticism is nothing short of magical.

My early-January country road blast featured blue skies and plus 10 degrees, so I was really wishing the optional ($1500) 19-inch star spoke alloy wheels, that were listed on the spec sheet, were still on the car. Woulda looked better too, as the seventeens appear lost in the wheel wells.

The tester was equipped with the $2000 Sport Package, which ups the standard 17-inch seven-spoke alloys to 18-inch five-spoke alloys wearing 225/40 R front and 255/35 R rear performance run flat-tires. (Which were ultimately ditched for the optional 19-inchers – also absent due to the 17-inch winter wear. Got that?)

2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

Also included in the Sport Package are heated sport seats. These chairs, done up in $2,400 Cream Beige Dakota Leather, perfectly held my body in a firm embrace while we subjected those poor Blizzaks to a sound thrashing.

Good braking is a big part of the sport coupe equation, and the large vented discs (348 mm front/336 mm rear) in the 335i Coupe feel very strong and linear.

My tester was refreshingly free of some of the techno-clutter that, in my opinion, has no place in the 3-series – iDrive and Active Steering ($1,500). If you order the Navigation Package ($2,900), iDrive is part of it, and adds an awkward centre dash hump to accommodate the LCD screen. A six-speed Steptronic manumatic transmission is available for $1,600; if ordered with the Sport Package it’s $100 more and includes paddle shifters.

2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The interior of the 335i Coupe, especially in this light hue, is an inviting and well-conceived driver’s environment. On start up, way-cool robotic arms bring the seat belts forward so you can easily reach them over your shoulders. And of course there is the chi-chi Start button, which logically doesn’t make much sense since the key fob must be placed in the dash slot anyway. Regardless, my inner boy-racer embraces the button whole-heartedly.

To be fair, if you go for the $750 Comfort Access option, the start button makes a lot of sense. As long as the fob is on your person, the doors will unlock and the vehicle will start without having to place said fob in the dash slot. Sounds a bit excessive, but it is a convenience that really works.

The standard CD/AM/FM system sounds just okay. If it were my nickel, I’d spring for the $1,200 Harmon/Kardon LOGIC 7 audio upgrade.

2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe
2007 BMW 335i Coupe. Click image to enlarge

BMW has lowered the rear seat cushions in the 335i Coupe to allow for greater headroom. At just under six feet tall, I had no problem “sitting behind” myself, and there were even a couple of inches to spare between cranium and headliner. I wouldn’t feel guilty ferrying a few friends on a long haul in this coupe.

The trunk is a useful 430 litres with a ski pass-through.

Externally, the 335i Coupe does not scream its considerable abilities. For a car that is as fast as the outgoing 333-hp M3, it is elegant and understated – which really does suit its personality. The one-piece “pearl grey chrome” side window frame trim is a nice design detail, as are the twin chrome exhaust tips and the grey front air scoop grill.

While the M3 is raw and racy, the 335i can thrill and coddle in equal measure.

On the highway at 120 km/h, the turbo engine is spinning at a relaxed 2600 rpm, but license-busting speed is just a Reebok prod away.

The only thing this new bi-turbo 3.0-litre six doesn’t deliver is the impressive fuel economy of the 255-hp naturally-aspirated Valvetronic 3.0. I saw 11.0 L/100 km, which, while still impressive, is thirstier than the 8.9 L/100 km a 2006 330i sedan tester returned. As they say, there’s no free lunch.

With this very fast, very refined and ultimately engaging 2007 335i, BMW has further advanced the art of the sport coupe. It’s that good.

Pricing: 2007 BMW 335i Coupe


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