Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
Longer, wider, taller. These aren’t the words we want to hear when the BMW 3-series (E90) gets a new face. While accounting for nearly half of all BMW’s sales, the BMW E90 was the bread and butter of its luxury sedans. With awards such as the 2006 Canadian Car of the Year and the 2006 World Car of the Year around its belt, creating something worthy of its successor can be a daunting task.
Lighter, faster, smoother. This literary trio brings music to our ears. Fortunately, the new 2013 BMW 335i xDrive (F30) is such, plus all of the above. It is 3.7 inches longer, 0.2 inches wider, and 0.3 inches taller than its predecessor. Miraculously, BMW engineers have also made it 88lbs lighter with even better performance. They kept the infamous N55 TwinPower Turbo in-line six that delivers 300 horses and 300 lb-ft of torque and stuck it with an 8-speed automatic transmission (6-speed manual transmission is also an option). Having a 0-60mph time of 4.8s, the F30 luxury sedan has become quite a formidable competitor among the likes of sports cars such as the 4.7s Chevrolet Camaro SS and the 4.9s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR.
But enough about what it’s like on paper, how does it feel on the road? BMW has fitted the new F30s with rack and pinion electric power steering, which feels rather lifeless and un-mechanical in COMFORT mode. The steering is too light and doesn’t give enough manual feedback on the wheel. SPORT mode on the other hand stiffens the suspension and gives a quicker throttle response, and the resulting difference is truly remarkable. It feels stiffer, more mechanical, and with the redline all the way at 7000rpm this vigorous beast can be pushed to the high revs without losing much torque. However, there’s a reason why the 2013 BMW M5 and M6 kept hydraulic assisted power steering instead of electric. It gives a better feel of the road and the hydraulic feedback provides you with an idea of which direction the wheels are facing when squeezing through corners.
BMW’s TwinPower Turbo can be a misleading term, as the engine is not actually coupled with twin turbos, but just one. The “TwinPower” refers to its use of twin-scroll turbocharging, where the six cylinders follow separate spiral shaped paths to the turbine wheel. This ultimately decreases back-pressure from the exhaust at lower rpms and results in instant throttle response with the absence of any turbo lag. The 335i’s turbo and dual exhausts deliver an addictive bubbling roar, especially when the waste-gates open after lifting off the throttle. It’s quite an explosive rollercoaster ride that keeps giving us goosebumps.
Though not equipped with a dual clutch transmission, the crafty 8-speed gearbox upshifts in the blink of an eye and is unquestionably smooth. However we did note that even in SPORT mode with the gear selector shifted into manual mode, the gearbox would automatically upshift for us when we reached redline at 7000rpm. Though we found this useful in case we forgot to upshift, we believed it to be intrusive and chips away at total driver control.
BMW’s crafty ECO PRO mode helps maximize our fuel economy by modifying the transmission to deliver less power on the throttle. Upshifts are made sooner and downshifts are delayed while also reducing energy consumption by the heated mirrors, seats, and climate control. Though it lacks the cruising mode ability found in the BMW ActiveHybrid models, this mode still provides us with pragmatic fuel economy usages and tips to drive more economically friendly.
With the Auto START/STOP system being found on a plethora of modern day cars, we find BMW’s attempt at it very unpolished. When fully stopped at a red light or in a traffic jam, the engine will automatically turn off helping us reduce fuel consumption. However once back on the throttle, the car noticeably jerks forward a bit and emits a loud noise upon engine start. Many times have my passengers thought I’ve stalled the car, and then realized that it’s not even a manual transmission.
BMW’s four-wheel-drive system, the xDrive, is imperative in the harsh Canadian winters and feels brilliantly refined on the straights and in the corners. It can automatically split the power between the front and rear wheels, allowing for increased traction and better handling on the roads.
This BMW 335i not only handles well, but is also breathtaking to look at. Turning heads and catching pedestrian attention is what the new F30 styling does best. Like a vampire’s cloak, the $800 Black Sapphire Metallic exterior paint divinely complements the Coral Red Dakota Leather interior. The BMW’s front headlights gracefully blend into the kidney grilles, giving an aggressive demeanor that adds just the right amount of sportiness. Dual exhaust pipes running separately out the rear helps distinguish this 335i from the connected dual exhaust pipes in the 328i and the single exhaust pipe in the 320i.
Four unique styling trims are available for the new F30s, each giving the BMW a different persona. The Luxury trim morphs the BMW into a more refined and majestic sedan with high-gloss chrome wrapping everything from the exhaust pipes to the extra kidney grille slats. Unique 18” multi-spoke rims set this trim apart, while the keyfob is black with chrome accenting.
The Modern trim replaces the chrome with satin aluminum at the grilles, exhaust pipes, and the front and rear bumpers. The interior leather upholstery can be found in either oyster or black colours with matching instrument clusters and steering wheel, giving an “avant-garde” appeal. The exclusive 18” turbine inspired rims is, in our opinion, the best looking of all of the trims.
Fitted on our test vehicle is the Sport trim, which cloaks the exterior features in high-gloss black. Only eight kidney grille slats are found in the front fascia, while the interior dashboard is lined with a distinctive red trim. The keyfob is black with stylish red accenting.
For those that want a more audacious appeal, an M Sport trim is also available with new aerodynamic and suspension kits, M-badged interior accessories, a high-gloss shadowline trim, and a unique 3-spoke M steering wheel.
Christian Louboutin would be proud, as vibrant red leather embodies and accentuates the spacious 335i interior making it feel like you’re sitting on a bed of fire. The user-friendly 6.5 inch iDrive display is intuitive and lag-free. Though it doesn’t obstruct our driving view, we wish there was an option where the screen would fold away into the dashboard.
The 2013 BMW 335i comes with impressive standard features, such as integrated paddle shifters, adaptive headlights, high beam assistants, larger brakes, heated steering wheel, power sunroof, and adjustable front bucket sport seats.
Our test vehicle was outfitted with the $4500 Premium Package that included an alarm system, universal remote control, comfort access, rear view camera, auto dimming exterior mirrors, lumbar support, rear park distance control, BMW OnBoard Navigation, and a booming Harmon/Kardon Sound System. The Comfort Access option is very convenient, especially when your hands are full with groceries. With the keyfob in your pocket, simply stand behind the car trunk and move your foot under the center of the rear bumper. The trunk automatically opens; no hands necessary!
Also fitted was the $800 Driver Assistance Package that included Lane Departure Warnings, which vibrates the steering wheel if veering off into another lane, and Active Blind Spot Detections, where a light flashes on the side mirrors if a car is in your blind spot.
Now, here is the $50k performance sedan question. Mercedes, Cadillac, or BMW? The cheaper $47,700 Mercedes C350 Sport has similar performance with a V6 with 302hp and a 7-speed automatic transmission. While the interior is a lot more luscious than the BMW’s, the exterior doesn’t give a lasting impression. The BMW also delivers a more rapacious exhaust noise and the steering feels more direct and mechanical than the Merc. Nearly identically priced to the BMW at $53,450, the Cadillac ATS 3.6L Premium (2013 AJAC Best Luxury Car of the Year) stacks up against the BMW with 21 more horsepower, but 25 less torque. Even the BMW’s interior looks conservative next to the overly blinged out Cadillac interior. Though the Cadillac gives a sportier ride, it doesn’t provide us with the driving thrill that we have come to love in the 335i.
What blows our mind is that the BMW 335i accelerates and brakes synonymous to a well-designed sports car while keeping the identity of a luxury sedan. The lavish interior and aggressively refined exterior pleases the eye with subtle ostentation. As a masterpiece of German engineering, this BMW 335i will keep a priceless smile on you for years to come.
型号 Model: 2013 BMW 335i xDrive
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $53,800
Price as Tested: $59,900
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2810
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4636/1811/1434
引擎 Engine: 2979cc inline-six TwinPower-turbocharged
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 300/5800rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 300/1300-5000rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: MacPherson strut
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Five-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 10.8/7.2/9.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Cinturato 18-inch