2012 BMW 335i | Road Test

Posted on Jan 20, 2013 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Excellent engine, great handling
BadBadElectronic steering steals feedback, boring interior
SpecsSpecs3.0-liter 6 cylinder turbo charged engine, 300 hp @ 5800 rpm, 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm, 8 speed automatic transmission
PricePriceAED 240,000 (as tested)
RatingEditors Rating Four Star

The Biggest 3-series so far

Having redesigned the 5-series and the 7-series recently, have finally launched the new F30 3-series. The 3-series has always been a benchmark for sport sedans and this week we find out if it still is worthy of that position.

2012 BMW 335i

Newly designed front makes for an aggressive stance

On first glance, the biggest change is a new front-end with headlights that flow into the trademark kidney grill which gives it an aggressive stance. With a 2 inch longer wheelbase, the increased length is easily noticeable and is likely to be confused for a 5-series by those less familiar with BMW cars. Subtle changes on the front including strong design lines starting on the hood and flowing all the way to the back make for an excellent looking car.

The change isn’t just on the exterior though. The new is laden with gadgets. Technology that was initially only reserved for the likes of the 5 and the 7 series has now trickled right down to the sporty 3 – series.

2012 BMW 335i

Massive 10inch screen displays everything from song name to digital horsepower guage

Auto start/stop switches off the car when you come to a standstill. Lift your foot off the brakes and the engine automatically fires up. Then there is the blind spot warning which lights up a little yellow triangle on the inside of the side view mirror to let you know that there is a car in your blind spot. It doesn’t stop there. If for whatever reason you didn’t see that, the car sends out a shudder through the steering wheel when you try to switch lanes.

The BMW 3-series is fitted with cameras all around to give you every possible view including a bird’s eye top view of the car which came in handy while parking in tight spots! The Heads up Display projects your speed and navigation as a hologram on the windscreen which means you never have to take your eyes off the road during high spirited driving.

2012 BMW 335i

Little splash of red tries hard to spice up the boring interior

The interior is extremely dull and boring. The little strip running along the dash painted in the same color as the exterior of the car tries hard to spice up the interior. On top of the dash sits a screen so big, it seems like a tablet has been wedged on it. The speakers are excellent quality and streaming music via Bluetooth was very convenient on the BMW infotainment system.

Moving to the more important bits, under the hood is the same 3.0 liter twin turbo engine we are awfully fond of. Only this time it has been tweaked to produce 300 bhp and 300 lb-ft of torque as low as 1,500 rpm. Enough power to shame its American rivals at a traffic light drag. However, the 3-series was never about straight line performance and the handling on the 335i is promising.

2012 BMW 335i - taillight

2012 BMW 335i – Bigger, Faster, Stronger

The driving dynamics allows you to choose between 4 different drive modes: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. Each setting has set parameters for throttle response, steering feel and stability control.

In Eco Pro, the throttle response is like that of a Lancer on sedatives and the steering is soft with a bit of play while being miserly on fuel consumption. Switch to comfort mode and the only difference seemed to be a slightly more responsive throttle. Sport mode reminds you why the BMW 3-series has been the most loved sports sedan for years. The engine responds to the slightest movement in the accelerator, gear changes are swift and the steering becomes heavier.

2012 BMW 335i

Select D, engage sport+ and begin hooning

My favourite though, was the Sport+. The engine suddenly behaves like a teenager overdosed on energy drinks, gear changes become violent, throttle response is exceptional; steering is at its heaviest and the two-mode muffler lets you hear the engine growl while trying to grapple at the road.  The flat screen switches views to show you 2 dials indicating the amount of torque and horsepower you are using. Why would anyone drive this car in any other mode is beyond me!

Owing to a not so stiff suspension, ride quality is good and can easily eat up miles on the highway. With sharp reflexes and the legendary BMW 3-series agility, cornering isn’t much of a chore but the electronic steering does not give you much feedback so taking high speed turns seem more like a leap of faith.

2012 BMW 335i

What’s not to like about the 5-Series inspired design?

At a price of AED 240,000, it is a fair bit of money for a 3-series. But what BMW have done here, is offer all the technology and gadgets available on the bigger 5 and 7 series in a more compact and sporty package in the form of the new 3-series. The question is, will it work?

The 2012 BMW 3-series then, is a great piece of engineering. The N50 3.0 straight six twin turbocharged engine puts out excellent numbers at very low revs making it extremely useable. The 8 speed gear box is brilliant with super quick shifts while attacking corners in sport mode. Nice and smooth shifts while cruising down Sheikh Zayed Road allow for a cushioned ride in comfort mode.

2012 BMW 335i - steering

If only you felt as good as you look

Inside, the headroom and legroom has been improved and build quality is typical of BMW standards. But all of this feels a little wasted due to the newly designed steering system which is the weakest link here. It steals from you, the driving feel. Leaving you disconnected from the whole experience. The result of German over-engineering in this case has eaten into the fun quotient from the brand that claims to make the ultimate driving machine.  It seems like BMW have gone a bit off-track here. That said, it does make for a great comfortable sedan loaded with the latest gizmos and goes rather quick. If that is what you’re after.

2012 BMW 335i

Longest 3 series ever means more legroom and headroom for rear passengers

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