The road to Kalba is a long and winding one: Cliché, borrowed from a thousand travelogues, of various length and bent. Like saying the BMW 3-series is a nice and sporty drive. But some clichés are there to be repeated, over thousands of long and short drives.As for the long and winding roads to Kalba, the all new BMW 335i kept them short on an unwinding drive.
On those ‘high’ ways, as I nudged the pedal, the ascent showed smoothest on the tachometer. The BMW 335i is lenient when it comes to engine speed, even as the 400 Nm of torque is made available early in the cycle. Yet the power felt more composed and reliable punctuated with exhaust blows that sounded delicious like those pop-in-your-mouth candies, but with a sting!
The normal D resorts to quicker and shorter throws while the S mode stretches the 8-speed automatic to higher rpm ranges before shifting down. Resonating with the BMW’s 3-series spirit, the 8-speed manual, easily accessed via paddle shifts or the console lever, is a delight to engage on meandering roads or highway escapades. At low speeds in city traffic, though occasionally, the 3.0 L gasoline reactor’s erratic bursts did show up!
The V6 twin turbo engine has been tuned to thunder against your parking lot ramp. It is something you’d love to listen to – and it does keep you company inside the cabin when you rev up. That is, till the wind takes over on highway speeds, especially when the road is a snaky stretch in the middle of a mass of dunes.
For the sake of those unfamiliar with the unique BMW gear lever: it’s a joystick that makes the shifts a gentle nudge. The park button is at the head of the gear knob and merely needs to be touched at stop. As for driving dynamics, this new entry-level BMW sport sedan offers four driving programmes – sporty, ultra sporty, comfortable and ECO PRO mode – the last one designed for ‘extremely economical driving’ which I couldn’t bother with for too long on a long road.
The BMW 335i holds out with exceptional grip but it isn’t a perfect 10 around curves – at least in ice skating terms, though the elegance of that sport the new Bimmer does bring to mind! But there is never a moment that flays the pleasure and feeling of being in control. The car has a good turning circle and a sharp response making it pretty useful in slaloms and cul-de-sacs.
The Drive is amply assisted by a range of technologies – which are tremendously useful even in this vigorously sporty sedan! The head up display showed me navigation cues as well. My car came with lane change warning (which includes blind spot alerts) and start-stop function, but optionally you can go for active cruise control, lane departure warnings (which happens when you stray from your lane) and forward distance warning too!
My Bimmer for the weekend was RED, with a sculpted bone line, and a beveled rear end that merged with wide wraparound LED lamps – they reminded me of red-hot coils. The sloping rear glass makes the new BMW 3-series’ boot look shorter in its semblance to a coupe. The gently ascending waistline and lightly flared wheel arches get the sporty spirit to stand out.
But nothing compliments its aggressive character like its shark-like visage. Unlike the pinched rear end, the long hood slopes more sharply at the front for a more aerodynamic look. A pair of inner hood lines add to the sharpness. Keeping with the current sporty drift, there is a hint of black just above the twin-exhausts, which are painted black as well. The stylish front fenders have their share of design intricacies, with the prowling puma eyes placed just above them – long, narrow and all seeing!
Cabin and controls
Driving gizmos are becoming standard fare for the segment but few offer this many and this much. The new BMW 3-series Connected Drive is a comprehensive tech-station with voice activation – useful in both navigation and selecting radio channels, or even sparing a quick glance at the owner’s manual. I found the meter that displays the power and torque an ‘interesting’ sport utility – graphically seeing how they vary with the sport and comfort modes! Chances are, you will never master the encyclopaedia of technical wizardry in the new BMW. But relax, all you need to know is accessible with a quick briefing.
The design makes waves on the cabin deck, quite literally. The interior is exceptionally luxurious yet more impressive is the way it retains its sporty character. Take the red stitching that passionately accentuates the black leather so lavishly wrapped around the cabin – on the steering wheel as well as the seats. Or the red metal strip across the AC base that affords a nice strap-line to the cabin of my 335i Sport.
On a red hot day in a red hot car, my family gratefully appreciated the dark tinted rear glasses and the sun blinds for even the quarter-glass. By the way, the glasshouse is of perfect proportions – where privacy meets viewing tower convenience.
Family men should be pleased these days – for sport doesn’t come in between family and men at least in cars! This Bimmer is immensely mindful of the priorities – the premium leather seats and the longer wheelbase offer enough legroom comfort though I wouldn’t “stretch” that point. Suspensions are built to please the family and the driver more or less, depending on the drive mode you choose.
I found the boot space a bit small though satisfactory by sport sedan standards. The console storage isn’t much either; the shallow armrest compartment and the deep door-side pockets together take care of bare necessities. Absence of space for little details was noticeable. But hey, you don’t get that sport badge on the sides for nothing!
Compare the BMW 335i and Mercedes C350
The most anticipated face-to-face on the planet should be this one. Hold your breath as we analyze this peculiar win-win situation! Click for a full review of the C350
C350 +: Powerful drive, precise steering, a speck more of comfort, noiseless cabin, excellent music system, sporty leanings meet the eye in the grille, the seats and aggressive lines, more balanced as a family car
335i +: More power yet with unruly torque at times; more fun to drive, more engaging steering feel, wind noise high at higher speeds, more tech-packed, the sporty leaning is everywhere – from the leather styling to the aggressive lines.
On par: Equally adept in Driver Assistance and electronically perfected driving manners
The essential BMW 335i
UPSIDE: Sleek captivating design, Great fun to drive, powerful and sporty, abundant technology assistance, luxurious and comfortable cabin, Warranty and maintenance package
FLIPSIDE: Wind noise at high speeds, boot space suffers from coupe-like design, occasional steering correction, pricey in comparison
Drive Courtesy: BMW Middle East/AGMC
Picture Courtesy: Sudeep Koshy/Supplied