2011 BMW 335d Review and Final Drive: The Road to Stuttgart and Munich

By Christian Stampfer on 26 October 2011
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Our fascination with the BMW 335d started almost two years ago, when Jonathan Spira took delivery of our 2010 BMW 335d at the BMW Welt.  The successor to the E90 BMW 3 Series has just been unveiled and production of the current (E90) 3 Series has ended.  The 335d introduced Americans to the concept of a diesel-powered sports sedan and readers of The Diesel Driver named it the 2011 Diesel Car of the Year.

Since its launch in December 2008, BMW has sold 8,217 335d sedans in the U.S.  In the same time period, BMW sold 14,532 335i sedans, which means that one out of every three buyers (36% to be exact) chose the diesel variant.

To celebrate the 335d’s successful run, we wanted to drive it in its native habitat, Germany.  Since it wasn’t practical to ship our 335d back to Europe for one last trip, we drove a 2011 335d sedan made for the German market.

The trip would take the 335d from Munich to Frankfurt to Stuttgart and back to Munich.  (See the Virtual Drives on page 2 for a first-hand look at where we drove the 335d.)

Stuttgart is home to 5.3 million inhabitants and a wide range of automotive suppliers and industrial companies, such as Bosch, have based their headquarters in the capital of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

When an auto enthusiast thinks of the city of Stuttgart, two automobile manufacturers come to mind, namely  Mercedes-Benz, the inventor of the automobile, with its production facilities based in Sindelfingen, 20 km (12.4 miles) to the south-west of Stuttgart, and Porsche, located in the Zuffenhausen section of Stuttgart. Both automakers recently built new museums (which are really more temples to the automobile than just museums) in Stuttgart. Mercedes-Benz opened its museum in 2006 while Porsche opened theirs to the public in January

After Jonathan and I attended the 64th Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), where we saw numerous announcements from BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz,  and Porsche, among others,  we planned a visit to Stuttgart to visit the Mercedes-Benz Museum and take a factory tour at the Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen.

We started the next-to-final leg of the BMW 335d’s voyage from our hotel, the Westin Grand Frankfurt, at noon. Since the navigation system reported a traffic jam on the city Autobahn A648, we decided to cross the river Main via the ”Alte Brücke” (old bridge) and headed directly towards the Autobahn A5  in the direction of Basel (Switzerland) and Karlsruhe. We entered the A5 at the interchange Frankfurt-Niederrad, drove past the Frankfurt International Airport and continued for the next 75 km (46 miles).

The first section of the A5, built between Frankfurt and Darmstadt, was used for propaganda purposes by the National Socialist regime in the 1930s and was incorrectly called “Germany’s First Autobahn,” even though the Cologne-Bonn Autobahn had been opened a year earlier.

We exited the A5 at the interchange near Weinheim, changed onto the A659 for a few kilometers and continued the drive via the A6 towards Speyer. After we passed the Hockenheimring, a famous German Formula 1 Grand Prix course, we left the A6 at the interchange Schwetzingen / Hockenheim and reached Speyer a few minutes later.

The city of Speyer (latin, “Spira”) was directly on our way to Stuttgart and would be our first stop.  Speyer has one of the oldest and biggest cathedrals in Germany, a technology museum [the Technik Museum, which has a large collection of historic airplanes, trains and cars including a Lufthansa 747 that is 20 m (65 feet) in the air and visitors can not only climb up a set of stairs to visit the interior of the plane but can also step out onto the wing], and a Jewish museum, dedicated to the former Jewish community.

Fuel economy for the first leg was somewhat disappointing.  After 115 km (71 miles) and an average speed of 102.3 km/h (63.5 mph), we used 10.0 l/100 km (23.5 mpg).

Click here to continue to Page 2 – The Drive to Stuttgart and Munich and Virtual Drives

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