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2007 BMW 335i Coupe Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2007 BMW 3 Series Coupe


SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for BMW


MODEL: 2007 BMW 335i Coupe
ENGINE: 3.0-liter twin turbocharged DOHC inline six
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 300 hp @ 5800 rpm/300 lb.-ft. @ 1400-5000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission
WHEELBASE: 108.7 in.
LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT: 180.3 x 70.2 x 54.1 in.
TIRES: P225/45 R17 run-flat
CARGO VOLUME: 11.1 cu. ft.
FUEL ECONOMY: 20 mpg city/30 mpg highway
STICKER: $41,295 (base)

The Good: Sleek styling that resembles the (much) more expensive 6-Series. Excellent power from the twin turbocharged inline six.

The Bad: As with all coupes, there’s a small rear seat, so it’s really only an occasional four-seater. The trunk is probably too small for more than one golf bag.

The 3-Series is the mainstay of the BMW line. Classified as a compact-to-midsize car, it suffers somewhat in comparison with the larger 5-series. Still, the 3-Series offers consumers an opportunity to become BMW owners and eventually move up to the larger, more luxurious models.

The 3-Series offers one of BMW’s widest ranges of models though. The sedans are the most popular, as would be expected, but one can also buy a 3-Series convertible (in my mind that’s the better sports car when compared with the Z4), a wagon, and now a coupe.

New for 2007, the BMW 3-Seriescoupeis offered with two engine options. The 328i Coupe is offered with a 3.0-liter double overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine rated at 230 horsepower. The 335i Coupe has a marginally smaller 3.0-liter DOHC inline six that is twin turbocharged and delivers a stirring 300 hp. Later in the model year these models will be joined by the all-wheel drive 328xi Coupe.

We had the opportunity to drive the 335i Coupe at its US introduction in San Francisco. Wisely, BMW only had the more powerful version available, although the 328i I’m sure would have sufficed. The two cars carry base prices that differ by only around $5,000, so unless you have a real need for speed, the 328i should fill the bill.

We drove over a series of winding and Interstate roads that gave us an excellent opportunity to evaluate the features of the car. Simply getting out of the city proved to be a challenge, what with the traffic and all, but once we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and entered Marin County with its combination of hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean and forest roads among stands of sequoias, the BMW Coupe found its element.

First, front passengers have the advantage of a “belt feeder arm” that presents the seat belts. Location of these belts has always been a problem in coupes because of the potential for garroting the rear passengers when they enter the car.

Styling of the 3-Series Coupes is close enough to that of the 6-Series Coupe and Convertible to cause pedestrians to take a second look. This is not a problem, because the 6-Series has been voted one of the more attractive cars on the market today. The 3 is smaller, of course, but the family resemblance is there.

Since we drove the 335i primarily, we found that the added power was an asset on some of the more interesting hills we encountered. The Coupe is fitted with a strut-type front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension that offers compliance on most road surfaces while allowing for nearly flat cornering most of the time. We were all impressed with the handling of the car. Ride quality is enhanced by a long, for the class, 108.9-inch wheelbase that’s as much as a foot longer than the competition. Despite the long wheelbase, the overall length is a compact 180.3 inches, which means that there’s little overhang at the front and rear.

We drove cars with both manual and automatic transmissions. I have found that BMW manual gearboxes, supplied by Getrag, are a pleasure to use. I’m not the smoothest shifter when it comes to manuals, yet with the 6-speed that replaces the former 5-speed, I looked like a pro.

The automatic is nearly ideal. You’d have to be a shifting freak to prefer the manual over the automatic. Yet, this is a Steptronic automatic, so you can shift it if you must. All that’s needed is to tip the gear lever forward for downshifts or rearward for upshifts. No clutch work is required.

In addition, the 3-Series Coupe has another BMW goodie, Active Steering, that enables the driver to maneuver with minimal effort when parking and keep it on track at highway speeds. In nearly all our driving, I was able to keep my hands firmly at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions on the wheel without having to move them or change them when I turned. This is a great labor-saving device.

As with most BMWs, the 3-Series Coupes are solid, well-built automobiles with a lot to offer. They share the generic disadvantage of all coupes in that the rear seats are minimal, even if they are bigger than in the sportier Z4, and the trunk is tiny for more than two peoples’ luggage.

But it is a beautiful car with great performance, enough that you’ll easily overlook its minor flaws.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate