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2007 BMW 335i Coupe Road Test Review

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Who needs practicality?

The 2007 BMW 335i Coupe isn’t the most practical of automobiles.  After all, it has no rear doors, making the rear seat useless to all but the slim and limber.  Who needs that when BMW has a perfectly acceptable 3-Series sedan? I mean, really, where’s the logic in that?

But then, if logic leads to happiness, as sure as someone surely must have said some time or another, then why does the 2007 BMW 335i Coupe feel so good?  Because, dear reader, that is the purpose in life of the BMW 335i Coupe. And anyway, logical it is. Straddling the complete hedonism and selfishness of the BMW Z4 Coupe and that least from a BMW point of view the sensibleness of a 3-Series sedan, the BMW 335i Coupe and it smaller-engined stablemate, the BMW 328i Coupe and that cars all-wheel drive companion, the BMW 328xi Coupe, the 2007 BMW 335i is a paragon of practicality.

A car of its own 

Starting with the 3-Series platform, however, BMW makes the 335i Coupe a car of its own.  Although it is instantly recognizable as a BMW with its unmistakable twin-kidney grille, it shares no panel with the 3-Series sedan, nothing in fact, other than the door handles.  The hood is lower than the sedans, with more prominent character lines which are also reflected in the contours of the 3-Series sides.

Bi-Xenon headlamps also permit a lower front end.  The result is that the BMW 335i looks significantly different from the 3-Series sedan, unlike the previous generation that was different but didn’t look it.  This time around, BMW figured if one is to spend a linebackers fistful of manufacturing dollars on expensive tooling, the customer ought to at least be able to see it.

Perhaps more significant than the external appearance of the BMW 335i Coupe, however, is what lies beneath that cleanly sculpted hood. The 335i Coupe has a completely new engine, BMWs first turbocharged gasoline engine since the legendary BMW 2002 Turbo of the early 70s and the 745i of 1981.

It only took BMW thirty years to solve that problem: two turbochargers for the inline six-cylinder engine.  They’re in parallel, the front turbo pressurizing cylinders 1-3, the rear turbo cylinders 4-6. As a result, they can be relatively small, and with less mass, they can spin up to speed faster, cutting turbo lag.

AttributesDetails
Category:$40,000 to $50,000 compact high-performance sports coupe
Who should buy this car:A person who wants a slick, fast, and comfortable Ultimate Driving Machine
Comparable models in this class:Audi TT, Ford Shelby GT500, Infiniti G35, Mercedes Benz CLK

Two into six

BMW has avoided the turbocharged engine because the technology wasn’t ready, as indicated by the three-letter word that became associated with turbocharging, lag. Turbocharged engines notoriously were weak at low rpm before unleashing a rush of power as the turbo starts making boost. It’s entertaining for a while.

Indeed, the N54 engine reaches its 300 lb-ft torque peak at 1400 rpm and stays there until 5000 rpm.  Peak horsepower arrives at 5800, and though it revs well beyond that, there’s no need to go sniffing about redline. With that kind of a bottom end, there’s no penalty for short-shifting.

The BMW 335is engine makes twisting, gollywiggling roads like those of Marin County, California, where BMW introduced the new BMW coupe, easy to drive.  There’s no worry about falling off the torque table, wide as it is, and there’s no need to flail it through corners to be able to launch it down the next straight.  Not that the N54 won’t rev smoothly. The torquey six is just all the more relaxed if a charge from 0-60 in 5.3 seconds is the way you relax.

Hey, Sport

Equipped with the Sport package, the 335is electronically-limited top speed is raised to 150 mph.  The Sport package includes higher speed-rated tires on 18-inch light-alloy wheels and bun-hugging sport seats, all for a very worthwhile $1,000, a minimal charge against the $40,600 base MSRP for the BMW 335i.

The BMW 335is 6-speed ZF Type G gearbox comes with a numerically lower final drive ratio than the 330i, thanks to the beefy torque curve, which allows the car to reach higher speeds in each gear.  Fifth gear is 1.00:1, and sixth gear is overdrive. In addition to the six-speed manual, a paddle-shifted Steptronic automatic transmission is available.

The BMW 3-series fully independent suspension is new on the 2007 models, with a double pivot front suspension already used on 5, 6 and 7 Series models.  Without getting overly technical, through the magic of geometry the two lower suspension arms have a virtual intersection point that provides better steering feel and control, plus better straight-line driving stability and room to fit bigger brakes.  The 335is five-link rear suspension provides a similar effect at the rear of the car.

Active Steering is available as an option but our test drive BMW 335i was not so equipped.  The option provides a variable steering ratio that’s unnerving to newcomers, making parking easier without upsetting control at higher speeds.  We have sincere doubts whether the benefits are worth the cost and added complexity.

Not fade away

BMW provided the 335i with massive brakes capable of prodigious stopping, but when coming to a full stop, we found them touchy and difficult to modulate.  New features have been added for 2007, however, including the ability to counteract any brake fading at extremely high brake temperature by increasing brake pressure.

Another brake system trick: Lifting off the gas suddenly moves the brake pads closer to the discs for quicker application. Another piece of standard equipment, Brake Drying, periodically wipes the discs clear of water by lightly applying the brakes.  Another neat brake system feature is the Start-Off Assistant. It momentarily applies the brake to stop rollback on uphill starts. Unnecessary for experienced drivers such as ourselves, perhaps, but it quickly spoils one when driving somewhere like San Francisco, where our test drive began and ended.

Neat enough, the 2007 BMW 335i Coupe would be entertaining enough just on technical merits, but we must award style points for the interior.  It’s efficient in a BMW way, and there’s no iDrive to confuse or distract the novice, but as indifferent as we are towards the use of lumber as a styling element in automobiles, the wood accents in the 335i Coupe glowed in the sun.  Two cheers for Light Poplar Natural wood trim. (Note: the car in the photos has the optional aluminum trim which eliminates the wood)

Our only complaint about our time in the new 2007 BMW 335i Coupe is that the roads of Marin County are narrow, frequented by bicyclists and posted at speeds slower than one would want for flogging a 335i Coupe, particularly in the knowledge that the local constabulary is aware of journalist-driven BMWs in the vicinity.

No doubt we’ll get another crack at the BMW coupe at a later date, perhaps the all-wheel-drive BMW 328xi as a winter mount.  Perhaps the traction action of the BMW 328xi will win some practicality points, but we’re really not concerned about practical, not at the moment.  Not when impractical feels so good.

Philbert J Thrombockle comments: BMW seems to agree with our assessment of the practicality of the 3-Series coupe, expecting it to appeal primarily to pre- or post-family buyers, or in other words, people who don’t have to worry about fitting a child safety seat and then a child into the back of a two-door car.  The asking price of $40,600, pre-options, will limit the market to buyers with a median household income of $150,000. Unless, of course, the pre-family types are already putting something aside for an Ivy League education or two.

BMW says two-thirds of buyers will get the Sport package.  That’s not surprising, considering the psychographics of the BMW coupe market.  BMW does not offer a special sport suspension for the 3-Series Coupe. The coupes suspension is sporty enough, apparently, at least until the next M3 Coupe arrives.

The BMW 335i Coupe we drove had a base price of $40,600.  Monaco Blue Metallic, an optional dark blue shade, added $475.  The Premium Package, including auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, lumbar support (this is extra on a $40k car?), universal garage door opener, mirror compass and BMW Assist with Bluetooth, added another $2,450.

The aforementioned Sport package goes for $1,000 and heated front seats $500. Dynamic cruise control, automatic air conditioning, moonroof, Logic 7 sound, and an ambient light package are all included at no extra charge.  The latter consists of mini-LEDs around the cabin, including the door panel, which adds subtle illumination. Largely gratuitous, but cool. BMW charges $695 to deliver the car to the dealership for a grand total of $45,720.

Because so many people had trouble reaching over their shoulders for the seat belt in the last coupe, the 2007 BMW 3 Series coupe has a seatbelt presenter, a little arm that pushes the seat belt forward so it is easier to reach.  That’s just something else to break or get broken, we say, and it adds useless weight and costs money to put on the car. If you cant reach the seatbelt, you don’t deserve to ride in the 2007 BMW 335i Coupe. So there.

2007 BMW 335i Coupe

Standard Equipment (partial list)

Major Available Options (partial list)

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