Thursday, 20 September 2007

Road Test: BMW 335i Coupe

By Dr Long

Click on images to enlarge

A turbocharged car or a supercharged one for that matter is more often than not, very lively and responsive to pilot. The E92 335i coupe, being the first BMW to come from the manufacturer that profess ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ to have forced induction since the last two decades or so, is simply brilliant.

Brilliant because it has that wicked twin turbo that induces pulling power palpable from a low 1500rpm and kicks up a typhoon that sweeps the speedo past the 100km/h mark in 5.5secs (as tested). From here on, my associate and I managed 160km/h, then on to 200km/h and a little past 240km/h before the super coupe worn out our nerves. The winding up the speedometer needle on the 335i looked effortless, much like a PS2 video game. Awesome.

Front end grip is so phenomenal that it just refused to break away in those U-turn like 270 degrees highway exit and entrance route. That was despite three digit speed, something almost untried in my regular ride. Steering feel and weight is just right, well maybe a tad ‘dead’ heavy at parking speed but nice. However, the rack may be over-sensitive at lofty three digits velocity, even to the point of unforgiving. Comparing it to a Brabus K4 and my regular E200K, the 335i’ rack induced oversteering and swaying if your input for lane change gets just that little over-enthusiastic. On two occasions, DTC intervened furiously, as visible with its flashing lights in the instrument panel. Something Peter and I both concurred on undisputedly. A price to pay for steering sharpness and over-incisiveness, we reckoned. Strictly 9-3 o’clock grips at the thick gauge M-steering wheel in 'rigor mortis' state recommended, if you want to maintain autobahn speeds or if you’re bent on chasing that Porsche Cayman S or something.

BMW’s award-winning turbocharged 3.0L IL6 makes a glorious growl as you rev up to mid and upper band but typical of any powerplant with turbo plus direct injection (think VAG’s TFSI in Golf and A4), it does get little hoarse towards the absolute redline. NVH refinements even on those triple digit runs were excellent, with nary an out-of-place howling wind noise or tyres rumble. The 3rd gen run-flats were soft and pliant despite the E92 coupe’s sport suspension set up. Surprisingly liveable for a BMW with ambitious sporting intention.

The E92’s chassis balance is brilliant too with stringing corners from apex to apex grin-inducing. That said, while it’s sure-footed almost all the time, the undulating surfaces of highways may ruffle its planted composure for just that half a second or so. More so during medium speed lane change or during a mild sweeping corner when you hit small bumps on the tarmac. In all honesty, this is something not troubling the Peter’s last (original) Brabus K4. It’s also easy to induce power-oversteer with that max 400Nm driving the rear wheels since I felt the rear end steeping out a little sideways on one wide corner as I powered out of its apex, experienced just moments before the safety-driving electronics kicked in.

With so much speed and zippiness it is very heartening to have brakes as reassuring and quick acting as the one in the 335i. It’s very responsive yet offers a good range of brake pedal modulation. Splendid.

Much has been said about the quick-shifting new generation torque convertor ‘box in the 335i coupe. Though the toggle-paddle shifters looked great in aluminium and all, I have yet to find a need to tug-and-push them so far. For really urgent ‘emergencies’ a flick of the gear lever to the left into ‘DS’ will suffice. Serious.

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