November 22, 2012
New in 2009 was the 335d with its smooth, torque-rich diesel engine. It was offered only with a six-speed automatic. In addition, BMW dropped the “x” from AWD variants’ names, instead dubbing these cars 328i/335i xDrive.
Changes for 2010 were mostly in trim, with most models getting additional standard equipment: 17-inch wheels on the 328i, and sport suspension and heated steering wheel were added to the 335i, for examples.
2007 BMW 3 Series cabriolet (top), by Paul Williams; 2008 BMW M3, by Grant Yoxon. Click image to enlarge
In 2011, coupe and convertible models got a styling update, while the 335i got a new turbocharged engine (power output was unchanged) and a 335is trim was added to the coupe and convertible, and included an uprated version of the new turbo motor, with 320 hp. These cars also got a great-sounding sport exhaust system, aerodynamics package and interior trim upgrades.
Despite the rather extensive range of engines offered in the 3 Series, few offer any significant fuel economy advantages. Aside from the M3, gas-powered 3 Series’ Natural Resources Canada consumption ratings are in a range from 11 to 12.5 L/100 km in city driving, and 6.7 to 8 L/100 km in the highway cycle; generally, the bigger engines use more fuel, as do all-wheel drive cars. The M3 is rated 15.3/9.7 (city/highway) with a stickshift, and changes little with the dual-clutch option. Going diesel in a 2009 or newer model gets you the best ratings, at 9.0/5.4 L/100 km, which puts the 335d in the same league as a four-cylinder family sedan, but with way more power.
Consumer Reports (CR) pegs the E92 3 Series’ reliability anywhere from “much worse than average” to “better than average,” a variance that can be attributed to the car’s wide range of powertrain options.
One well-documented problem is that of a failure-prone high pressure fuel pump in turbocharged cars, characterized by long crank times, rough idle and rough running and stalling at wider throttle openings; read about it here and here. That issue alone is enough to drive the 335i’s reliability into the below-average range, while non-turbo cars enjoy more favourable ratings. The turbocharged six-cylinder is also known for problems with the VANOS variable valve timing system. BMW has issued a technical service bulletin to look after this. A helpful reader pointed out that BMW Canada has offered extended emissions system warranty coverage to 10 years km for Canadian owners of 2008-2009 model cars with the turbocharged engine.
CR notes widespread “minor” engine problems in 2006 models with the 3.0-litre engine (325i and 330i); this could be related to the matter of ticking valvetrains, as discussed here. CR also indicates that engine cooling system problems – radiators, thermostats, water pumps and coolant leaks – prevalent in the previous generation car – also affect the E90 series.
If the user-reported data at TrueDelta.com is an indication, the non-turbo six-cylinder engines are the more reliable choice in this generation of 3 Series; most of the complaints logged there related to engine troubles with the turbocharged six.
Click here for a handy thread listing Technical Service Bulletins that have been issued for E90 series cars.