BMW 335i Coupe auto
05 July 2006
Category: Sports Price: £27,862-£33,172
On sale: September 23 Key rival: Mercedes CLK
There are some very significant numbers to bear in mind with the new BMW 3-series Coupe. First off, the 3-series range accounts for a hefty 40% of all BMW sales, and the Coupe amounted to more than 7500 cars in 2005 in the UK. BMW has aspirations to lift that figure to 13,000 in 2007, the first full year of sales, and many of those will go to the fleet sector.
First Coupes arrive on the UK in September, they come with a choice of six-cylinder engines in either 2.5- or 3.0-litre forms, the latter with twin turbochargers to create the 335i, the only model available on last week's launch. We're happy to report that even with turbos attached, BMW has lost none of its touch with building engines to stir the soul.
It's easy to do a bit of soul stirring when the turbocharged engine produces 306PS and takes the 335i from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. Not so long ago, these performance figures would have warranted BMW's coveted Motorsport badge, but times have moved on and the next M3 will have a V8 engine. That leaves the 335i as the most powerful six-cylinder engine in the 3-series range, though company drivers may want to hang on for the 335d, which will pack 286PS. That model arrives a month behind the petrol version in October.
The diesel will only come with a six-speed automatic gearbox, while the petrol 335i has a manual six-speeder as standard. While the manual is typically BMW-slick, we preferred the auto version as the turbocharged petrol engine delivers peak punch all the way from just 1300rpm to 5000rpm. Beyond this point, the engine doesn't seem to sparkle in the quite the way we'd hope for from a BMW six-cylinder, but it's still a superb engine. Other engines on the way include a less powerful 3.0-litre turbodiesel coming in October, and the more fleet-friendly 2.0-litre petrol and diesel models early in 2007.
The 335i may have plenty of power, but its emissions are still better that of rivals from Alfa, Mercedes and Vauxhall, and the BMW also betters these cars for fuel economy by returning an ultra respectable 29.7mpg, while also winning the CPM battle.
The rest of the new 3-series Coupe is similar to the saloon but with a more sporty note. The dash is much the same and front passenger space is excellent. Two adults will fit in the sculpted pair of rear seats, while the boot is a good size too.
Again, like the saloon, the Coupe's handling is that little bit sharper than its rivals and serves up entertainment in a safe, predictable package. The ride quality is firmer than the saloon's, but it remains comfortable enough for long trips to be relaxing.
Some may find the looks of the new 3-Series coupe too similar to the saloon's, but BMW says this has always proved a positive with previous generations, protecting residual values and helping lower leasing costs. The BMW 335i Coupe may be more expensive than some of its rivals, but its lower emissions and better fuel consumption combine with a far superior drive to make it a very attractive option.