From £24,800
Smooth and powerful six-cylinder turbo makes the right noises and tops off the excellent new 3-series range very nicely
29 February 2012

What is it?

We've heaped praise on the new-generation BMW 320d, and said good things about the 328i despite its lack of two cylinders compared with past wearers of that badge. Now it's the turn of the only new 3-series, so far, to have a petrol-fuelled straight six under the bonnet.

What’s it like?

You feel like you've returned home as soon as you press the start button. Here is a well-specced 3-series which makes the sound you expect: a smooth, creamy hum with a crisp edge when roused a bit. This engine is well known from other BMWs, a 3.0-litre unit whose twin-scroll turbocharger helps it to 302bhp and 295lb ft of torque, matched here to an eight-speed automatic transmission which accounted for £1660 of the already Luxury-spec test car's £12,835 option tally (which also included a stupendous stereo system).

The pace is predictably rapid, with 62mph claimed to arrive 5.5sec after blast-off despite the Efficient Dynamics-enhanced CO2 score of 169g/km. The economy this promises doesn't quite materialise in practice, but the trip-computer average of 30.5mpg over a week's motorway-biased driving is acceptable given the performance on offer. That's after making very little use of the Eco Pro mode, which flattens the performance to the point where you might just as well have bought a 320d.

The auto 'box shifts imperceptibly smoothly once on the move but its step-off can be very abrupt, especially when the driving dynamics control is set to Sport. Manual shifts are similarly silken, as well as instant, but it's easy to lose count of all those gears unless you pay attention to the display.

Should I buy one?

So, does the extra engine weight up front spoil the impeccable dynamics so far relished in the new 3-series? The steering is perhaps a shade less delicate and its artificial weighting now more obvious, but the balance remains delightfully throttle-sensitive and the 335i feels as you'd think a modern BMW should. There's a lot of road noise to go with the suspension's well-damped firmness, but when you consider that BMW has had the good sense to retain a manual handbrake in this latest 3-series range, you can forgive that transgression.


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John Simister

BMW 335i Luxury

Price: £38,685 with auto; Top speed: 155mph; 0-62mph: 5.5sec; Economy: 39.2mpg (combined); CO2: 169g/km; Kerb weight: 1520kg; Engine type, cc: 6 cyls, 2979cc, 24V, turbocharged; Power: 302bhp at 5800-6000rpm; Torque: 295lb ft at 1200-5000rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic

Join the debate


2 March 2012

Another BMW reviewed, that's 3 in "front page" list of 10. Surely there's other cars out there.

2 March 2012

Having already found a five-star rating Autocar a going to flog this range to death.


2 March 2012

If the pictures are of the car that you tested, then presumably some of the £12k in extras is for ludicrously large wheels and ultra low profile tyres which in turn explains the comment on lots of raod noise?

Why do BMW and Audi keep supplying cars for you to test that they have ruined by adding stupid wheels?

2 March 2012

I like alot. But £49k for a 3er. Jesus when did this happen? Although I think sub-£40k with a couple of choice options makes this very desirable.

2 March 2012

As much as we'd all like a naturally aspirated straight six with a proper manual 'box, this doesn't seem half bad.

2 March 2012

[quote ACB] Why do BMW and Audi keep supplying cars for you to test that they have ruined by adding stupid wheels?[/quote]

I guess it's because it reflects what the majority of customers want.

I am continually impressed by BMW's power/mpg figures; 40mpg and 300bhp? Yes please.

2 March 2012

[quote thebaldgit]Having already found a five-star rating Autocar a going to flog this range to death.[/quote]

I hear where you're coming from, but I'm glad they're testing the 6-cylinder as the character is likely to be very different from the 4 and this could attract a lot of enthusiast interest in its own right.

2 March 2012

Wonderful car but I'll wait for the big oil burner thanks.

I always get the impression that people who moan about positive BMW reviews either don't realise just what good cars they are or do but can't afford one. Sad.

2 March 2012


Does this car feature the expensive/compulsory trick suspension option?

When are we going to get a review of a 3-series without it?

2 March 2012

It's nice but the price is outrageous for a 3 series. When on autotrader, a 61 plate 730d is going for les than 45k, I know where my money would go


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