BMW’s latest 3-series coupe, the E92 was chosen as a platform for BMW to introduce to us their latest engine, the award-winning twin-turbocharged N54 3.0 litre straight-six. Although I have not test driven the car yet, Jeremy Mahadevan shares with us his experience driving the new BMW 335i Coupe in Austria. I will be writing this post based on his experiences.
The 3-series pretty much handles like the sedan – precise, fluent and fun, without being threatening. The dominant trait with all safety systems on is understeer under pressure, but you can sense that it’s a very pliant car that can be bent to your will easily if you possess the skills and the desire. The lower seating position helps with connectedness, somewhat like you’re snug in a fighter jet cockpit and the cab-rearward stance and long bonnet give it more of a classic sports car feel.
The N54 3.0 litre turbocharged straight-six has not much of a torque curve, it’s more of a torque plateau! Peak torque is pretty much flat at around 400Nm from as low as 1,300rpm up to 5,000rpm which gives the car a diesel-like driving experience, though a red-line of 7,000rpm tells you it’s not a diesel. In fact at idle the engine sounds much like a diesel, clattery and unrefined. Jeremy Clarkson had the same thing to say about the BMW M5’s engine, so perhaps this is a common trend with BMW performance engines. The car is car is amazingly easy to drive, and thanks to it’s power overtaking is never a problem and really you could just stick it in sixth and cruise nearly everywhere. However even though it’s a twin turbocharged powerplant there’s no exhillarating sound of the turbines spinning up, instead the engine sounds very much like a normally aspirated straight-six BMW engine. I guess it’s up there with BMW’s noise and vibration suppression standards. Maximum power output for this baby is 302 horses (306ps).
The gear ratios are very well thought out, though it can’t be that hard to get it right with the engine providing such a nice torque curve to toy around with. While the manual transmission is what you’d expect from a stick shift, the autobox has soem pretty nifty electronics. It blips, shifts down two, three, sometimes even 4 gears, and uses various factors such as the angle of the steering, the braking level, the gradient of the road and so forth to keep the car at the optimum gear, and it shifts 50% faster than its predecessor.
A thoughtful feature that BMW included with the car is the seatbelt server. 2-door cars generally have wider doors than normal to facilitate easy entry into the back seats. This pushes the B-pillar way too far behind for a driver to comfortably reach for his seat belt. BMW’s seatbelt server is an extendible arm that comes out of a slot to the side of the rear passenger. It actuallly extends from behind the seat belt, hooks the belt along the way and carries it further, presenting it to you just behind your left shoulder. Should you lift the front seat back to provide rear access, it quickly slides back in, because if not it would block access to the rear.
Like Mercedes Benz’s new coupes like the CLS and CL, the BMW 3-series Coupe is a 4-seater because there is a center console running through the middle of the rear seats. Accessing the rear can be annoying because there is no single button which both moves the front seats forwards and tilts them. However once you’re in there you’ll find that there’s ample room, even a person of around six feet will not get uncomfortable over short distances.
Lucky guy, got to go all the way to Austria to test drive this awesome car.
As for now, more photos!
BMW 3-series Coupe – BMW 335i
BMW N54 Bi-Turbo Engine
2006 International Engine of the Year Awards Results
BMW 335i to get twin-turbocharged inline-6
BMW 335i – All the car youll ever need