BMW 335d Three-Month Test Report and Review

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Whether passing slower cars on an Autobahn or driving up a twisty mountain road, the car has been a blast to drive.  It demonstrates responsive yet refined road manners  – without sacrificing passenger comfort or driver joy.  While a manual transmission isn’t available (BMW says that a manual transmission that could handle the engine’s torque would be cost-prohibitive), the ZF-manufactured automatic transmission’s shifts are perfectly timed and the normally silent engine emits a low but muscular growl under acceleration.

The 335d’s 0-to-60 mph time is, at 6.0 seconds, just a fraction behind the 335i’s time of 5.6 seconds.   For passing maneuvers, where going from 70 km/h (44 mph) to 150 km/h (93 mph) seems to happen almost instantaneously, the 335d has no peer.

Fuel economy continues to surpass the EPA rating of 23 mpg (10.2 l/100 km) in the city and 36 mpg (6.5 l/100 km).  To date, the best sustained fuel economy our 335d has recorded is 40 mpg (5.9 l/100 km), although we’ve seen as high as 42 mpg (5.6 l/100 km) for brief periods of time.

Aside from the incredible torque, however, there is little (aside from fuel economy) to distinguish the 335d from almost any other BMW.  The steering feels perfect and gives the driver just the right amount of road feel and resistance.  The throttle responds perfectly to driver input.  There is slightly more engine noise but, with the windows closed, the driver hears a pleasant diesel growl.

Inside the cabin, the 335d has the fourth generation of BMW’s iDrive cockpit controller system.  The controller itself has four direct selection keys (for CD, phone, navigation, and radio) and each key has a different shape, making it possible to find the right button by touch alone. Other car makers have function buttons, but the driver still has to look down to pick the right one.

The car’s 8.8” central information display (CID) offers the highest resolution I’ve seen in a vehicle display and new menus, symbols, icons, and graphics make the system easier than ever to use.

Navigation also benefits from many enhancements including a full-screen map display, photo-realistic 3-D map views, satellite image maps, a preview function for selecting routes, and a choice of efficient, fast, and short routes.

Bluetooth integration is superb, as always, although the system still has problems with contacts from BlackBerry devices and imports them in last name, first name order (rendering the system’s speech-to-text dial-by-name feature close to useless).

The iPod integration is well done although BMW still doesn’t have a main menu choice for podcasts, a significant omission, especially since earlier BMW iPod integrations supported this functionality quite nicely.

BMW online services have been greatly enhanced.  BMW Assist allows the driver to receive an address and a private message sent directly to the car’s navigation system from Google Maps.

With the optional Convenience Package,
the system provides news headlines (including world news, business news, financial news, and sports), weather forecasts, fuel prices (sortable by distance, fuel type, and price), and Google local search, which taps into the Google Maps database online.  In addition, the system supports geotagging: with a few clicks, the driver can e-mail friends and family his current location and destination information.

We’ll continue our regular reports on the 335d in the coming months but we really wonder if we should have ordered the car in green – the little “d” on the decklid simply isn’t big enough to get the point across.

2010 BMW 335d
Base price/price-as-tested $43,950/$56,215
Drivetrain Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine 3.0/265 hp/turbocharged diesel inline 6
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Curb weight (lbs) 3825
Weight distribution 51/49
Wheelbase (inches) 101.5
Length x width x height (inches) 178.8 x 71.5 x 55.9
0-60 mph/0-100 km/h (seconds) 6.0/6.3
City/highway fuel economy (mpg) 23/36

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