2013 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Simon Hill
Unless you wander down to a dealership and plunk yourself down in a few different cars, it’s difficult to comprehend just how many distinct personalities BMW’s latest-generation 3 Series is capable of assuming. With three available engines (plus a hybrid model), a choice of three exceptionally well-defined trim lines, and a mind-boggling array of standalone options, the 3 Series can play a wide variety of roles from the sporty but sensible family car, to the buttoned-down executive saloon, the luxurious status symbol, or the pavement-pounding sports car in disguise.
The bright Estoril Blue Metallic paintwork on my 2013 BMW 335i xDrive M Sport test car leaves no doubt as to which role this particular model plays. The colour, which is exclusive to the M Sport line, nicely showcases the latest 3 Series’ attractively aggressive lines and also pretty much sums up everything about the 335i xDrive M Sport: It’s vibrant, attention-getting, and awesome… and if it’s not actually to your taste there are plenty of other options within the 3 Series stable to choose from.
BMW’s latest generation 3 Series sedan (dubbed the F30 within BMW circles) manages to increase the comfort factor of the previous generation car by growing a bit in size – allowing a bigger 495 L trunk and a significantly roomier back seat – while still getting better looking and shedding a commendable 40 kg of curb weight compared to the previous generation car.
Motivating the slightly lighter new 3 Series is a range of engine choices including a 2.0L four-cylinder that develops 181 hp, a turbocharged 2.0L four that churns out 241 hp, and my test car’s turbocharged 3.0L straight-six, which antes up 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
Quite why the engine’s 3.0L displacement doesn’t make the 335i a “330i” is a complicated subject for the marketing wonks to explain, but what it means in terms of performance is simple: The 335i stomps it out, blasting from 0–100 km/h in about 5.5 seconds and adding big increments of speed at the merest thought of throttle.
The turbocharged four in the 328i is hardly a slouch, it should be noted, and will rip to 100 km/h in just over six seconds, but the big six in the 335i offers certain other advantages, especially for long-time BMW aficionados: First is the delightful soundtrack it creates as it goes about its work, a wickedly silky growl with a sporty brap from the exhaust on each upshift, and virtually none of the direct-injection chatter you get from the four-cylinder at idle. Second, the 3.0L six carries with it the option of selecting a manual transmission with xDrive models (the 328i xDrive is only available with the automatic).