When I think of the BMW brand, images of cozy interiors and thoughts of sporty handling come to mind. The 2011 BMW 335i follows suit with the same warm fuzzies sprinkled with a heaping dose of social networking amenities.
The 335i is a zippy, intelligent vehicle for the modern yuppy with a Mobile Office feature that will make your laptop jealous. Young urban professionals aside, Mobile Office is a fitting name as most of its features truly make the vehicle feel like it’s the automotive branch of your office. Waiting at a red light? Access your calendar and to-do list on the 8.8-inch display screen. Call your women’s networking group hands-free or host a conference call. It uses Bluetooth to read incoming texts out loud, and can read Twitter and Facebook posts, as well. BMW Online will show current gas prices with gas station locations on the nav map. The least enjoyable thing about driving is filling the tank. But since it needs to be done, you might as well let the nav map guide you to the pump. Plus, the USB adaptor in the console offers another way to be technologically mobile. The 335i is a fuel-injected robot full of practical features: A transportable hotshot of competent accoutrements. A maestro of mobility. Perfect for the on-the-go entrepreneur. Square peg fits into the square hole here.
The walnut wood trim on the dash is easy on the eye, combating a seemingly plentiful number of buttons at first glance. Every second counts with eyes on the road and BMW took this into consideration with the circular iDrive controller knob that works in conjunction with the display screen. Thankfully, it’s easy to reach near the console without having to divert your eyes, nor contend with an assortment of dashboard buttons, making changing amenities –like the temperature –a piece of cake. No need to look down at the display screen if all you’re doing is sifting through radio stations with the knob. If you prefer to utilize your inner DJ, an iPod adapter located in the console allows you to control music with an arena of thirteen speakers. Rear seats fold back with a 60/40 split to accommodate large item hauls. Windshield wipers automatically turn on when it starts raining, and automatic headlights turn on when they sense darkness. I sensed some darkness when I realized how easy it was to assimilate a vehicle like this into my life. The tough part about reviewing cars is having to return them.
The inside of the car has a vacuum-sealed feel to it once you shut the door. The immediate silence that ensued once the suction of the door completed was comforting and made the outside world in front of me feel more like a journey instead of an obstacle. The quiet calmed me and gave me an appreciated, albeit brief, sense of balance. Maybe it was a hectic morning and my sentiment seems exaggerated, but even if it weren’t hectic, I’d never turn down an opportunity for a conscious moment of zen thanks to a little peace and quiet. After settling in from my appreciation of silence, my first thought was, “If somebody hit me, I think I’d be okay.” The interior of the 335i gives a feeling of being inside an armored vehicle. Of course, it isn’t armored, but it feels spacious, hefty and safe. The thing that makes the 335i a pleasure to drive, is an interesting mix of weight (literally around 3700 pounds) and control-ability behind the wheel. We get both worlds combined here -agility and leverage- making the 335i a bit of a force to be reckoned with. It’s a complete pleasure to drive.
The engine is a twin-turbo charged, 6 cylinder, 3L, 300 HP motor, accessed by an engine start/stop button. Driving around Denver, I noticed that the car doesn’t ‘roll’ when you take your foot off of the brake at red lights. When you first tap on the gas, there seems to be a two-second wait, but once the car gets going, it goes with spunk. At the same time, when you press on the brakes, they brake with authority.
To add some grrr to an already aggressive ride, tack on the optional M Sport package. It comes with an aerodynamic kit clad with a lowered chassis for tighter handling, rear spoiler and front and side air vents. The M Sport offers fancy spoke-rim choices with run-flat seventeen-inch performance tires. The shadowline trim around the windows and doors add subtle accentuations. As far as exterior color choices, the beautiful, signature BMW blue (called Le Mans Blue Metallic) is only available if you deck your car out with the M Sport. It’s the elitist and sporty color consorty. Ahem. Sorry.
Paddle shifting comes standard with the M Sport for a race car-esque experience at the helm. This feature can make driving quite entertaining. I personally like to make my own sound effects when upshifting or downshifting in this mode. I find that a high pitched “peww” sound works well for upshifting. I’m waiting for BMW to install laser beams for rude drivers with a similar sound effect tied to it. The price point on that might be one hell of an upgrade, though.
A tender feature that I appreciate is the front seats. My office chair started to feel like a stadium seat in comparison. The front seats can extend out like an accordion to customize a better fit for your tall boyfriend or girlfriend and even the thumb indents on the leather steering wheel felt thoughtful. I can see how the owner of this car would volunteer to carpool with friends to dinners downtown. Why park the SUV Obnoxicon when two couples fit beautifully in the 335i?
Another polite feature is the headlights. They act like your co-pilot, even if you already have an actual co-pilot. The adaptive headlights take the apprehension out of last minute nighttime runs to the store. Roads are clearly visible with cornering lights for shedding some light on the runner donned in all black. The super-duper best part? Even though the beamers on this Beemer are bright, they won’t shine into the eyes of oncoming drivers. Score! That’s certainly nothing to glare at.
Translations for the Whole Enchilada: BMW 335i (“i” means it’s fuel injected), xDrive model (means all wheel drive) with the M Sport package (M stands for Motorsport).
Financial Facet: Starting around $55,000.
Bottom Line: Satisfies business class expectations. Well-suited for the professional woman who takes pride in her ride.
Zoom Factor: Twin-turbo wasn’t too speedy from a dead stop, but launches once you get going. Most fun on highways, but keeps your tail wagging during city driving.
The Denver Angle: Comfortable, posh local ride; suited for long drives to the mountains or out of town.
Dealership: Ralph Schomp
5700 South Broadway, Littleton