The Pinnacle

An enthusiast’s BMW par excellence, the 335is Coupe just might be the best 3 Series of its generation.

October 12, 2010
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The 335is reminds me of my favorite BMWs of yore: an enthusiast coupe with a powerful engine, sporty suspension, effective aerodynamics and not much else.

As such, it represents the pinnacle of 3 Series Coupes, M3 notwithstanding. And even though the E92 body style will remain in production until 2013, this car will most likely remain at the top of the heap where performance is concerned—and reliability, thanks to the thorough de-bugging that comes with five years of development.

Everything about the 335is, from the ergonomics to the engine, the transmission gearing to the suspension speaks “Perfection in Detail,” a BMW marketing phrase that long predates today’s somewhat nebulous “Joy.” It reminded me of the Z3 M coupe: From the moment I cracked second gear, I was thinking, “I can’t believe they built this car!”

Profit doesn’t seem to have been the driving factor behind this particular model’s creation. Instead, it was built to appeal to enthusiasts like us, with a raft of special parts meant to enhance performance and usability for the serious driver.

The list starts with a souped-up version of the familiar N54 twin-turbo engine, which here puts out 320 hp at 5,900 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque from a mere 1,500 rpm, though an overboost function can briefly raise torque to 370 lb-ft thanks to a turbocharger boost pressure increase from 11.6 to 14.5 psi.

Even before it taps into the overboost, this N54 exceeds by 37 lb-ft the torque output of the M3’s normally aspirated S65 V8, which I think makes the 335is Coupe a more enjoyable car to drive anywhere but the race track—and especially at high elevations. You live in Colorado and you’re a hotshoe? This is your car, period. Compared to normally aspirated engines, turbocharged engines are relatively unaffected by altitude, losing far less power as they go higher.

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