The handling can't match the 335i's looks
The lack of feel in its steering is the main fault
The performance and economy are both impressive
The noise in the cabin from the exhuast is fantastic with the roof down
The BMW 3-series' outstanding performance and handling complete a consummate all-rounder
First DriveNew plug-in hybrid 3-series is claimed to return up to 131mpg with CO2 emissions of 50g/km
First DrivePractical 3-series estate loses some of the saloon’s edge, but engine and transmission impress with controlled pace and economy
What is it?
This is the upgraded BMW 335i Convertible, which gets a heavily upgradeded engine and some mild cosmetic tweaks.
Given that BMW’s twin-turbocharged straight six petrol engine was arguably one of the best petrol motors in its class, it comes as a surprise to some that the German maker has given it an overhaul and removed one of the turbochargers.
But the result is improved economy with no loss in the potency of the previous unit. Our test car came fitted with the German maker’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which allows the 302bhp 335i to achieve 205g/km and 32.1mpg whilst also managing 60mph in just 5.7sec.
What’s it like?
The good news is that the new engine doesn’t disappoint. The double-sided turbocharger endows the 3.0-litre unit with as much potency and flexibility as before. The slick transmission, the engine’s refinement and a comfortable cabin go a long way to making the 335i drop-top very liveable transport.
What is less succesful is the ride quality, which can crash uncomfortably and is restless at high speeds on a typical British b-road. The optional 18-inch alloys fitted to our test car didn’t help, so we’d suggest saving yourself £505 and sticking to the standard 17s.
The steering is also less than confidence-inspiring. Heavy and very artificial in feel, it never offers a sense of connection to the car and can feel inconsistent in response.
This isn’t to say that the 335i isn’t an entertaining-enough drive. Clearly the performance is ample and is accompanied by a rorty exhaust note that is especially pleasing with the clever folding metal roof tucked into the boot. Equally it has all the kerbside appeal that is essential to cars of this ilk.
Should I buy one?
The 335i Convertible is one of the most appealing cars in its class for many reasons, most of all its impressive combination of performance and economy as well as its style.
But even so, it’s fair to assume that if you are willing to pay over £40,000 to get the new 335i Cabriolet, rather than settling for one of its less potent siblings, handling matters. In this respect the 335i doesn’t quite live up to expectations. More pliant damping and involving steering would go a long way to making this an involving performance car as well as a fast cabriolet.