BMW 335 Diesel: Fast and Fuel Frugal

by The Car Family

You aren’t going to notice anything special about this 3 Series BMW Sedan. It looks like every other ubiquitous Bimmer except for a small “d” on it rump. And that, car affectionados, makes all the difference as it indicates that this sedan contains a marvel of engineering. BMW has stuffed a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel inline-6 under the hood that creates 265 horsepower and shovels a thunderous 425 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. To give you an idea of how potent this engine is that is nearly the same amount of torque as a big V8 Corvette delivers.

For under $44,000 you can drive a car that can get you to Las Vegas and back without refueling and have enough diesel left to visit a couple of local casino as well before the 16 gallon tank needs replenishing. The best part of the 335 d is that the diesel does not distract from its sporty nature. It handles and brakes extremely well, and the 36 ft. turning radius means that maneuvering in tight mall parking spaces is a simple point and shoot affair. Best of all, there isn’t any diesel exhaust smell and very little chatter from the engine. The biggest problem is finding a reason not to buy this version of the 3 Series over the gasoline powered versions.

Mom’s view: I always like BMWs, and especially this one. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but seldom has to bother with all the torque the engine provides. You can amble over the steep grade out of Baker, California without the transmission having to kick-down and trips to Mt. Baldy or Mt. Wilson are effortless. We have owned diesel cars for over 30 years and love them dearly. They require less maintenance and are extremely durable. Our old Mercedes diesel has over 400,000 miles on it and still enjoys a romp on the freeway. But this BMW is a whole new breed of oil burner.. It is quicker to start in cold weather and doesn’t belch smoke or even chatter. It is very clean and quiet. What I didn’t like about the 3 Series was the interior. It is very tight. The rear seats have limited legroom and the trunk offers only limited space. The dash, gauges, cupholders, and glove compartment are adequate, but the theme is one of understatement. I would like a bit more of BMW’s 7 Series glitz inside, but I am old fashioned and don’t get oversized black rims on SUVs either. The bottom line is that this is the best 3 Series for those who are frugal. That’s right, an oxymoron, a Bimmer for the penny pincher.

Dad’s view: The BMW diesel is a win-win for the consumer. You get higher resale, better fuel mileage and the knowledge that you are driving the most fuel efficient sedan BMW offers. Merging from Interstate 5 onto Interstate 10 was never easier with just a quark’s worth of pressure all that is required to harvest that open spot. This is one swift sedan. The brakes are perfect, steering perfect,and the suspension perfect. Of course, I like to drive and those who are irritated by the feel of the road should look elsewhere. This is a car to be driven hard and put away empty.

Young working woman’s view: Be still my heart. Could there be anything better? Image, safety, great performance, and only having to refuel every week or so and maybe less. With the average commute in the 909 area about 60 miles per day you would only need to replenish your fuel supply every fortnight. The trait I like most about this vehicle is the safety features. It comes with anti-lock disc brakes and vehicle stability control and airbags most everywhere. Add to that the safety of free routine maintenance four years or 50,000 miles and you have a want turning into a need when you visit the BMW dealership. Thank goodness they don’t make this diesel version in a convertible.

Young working male’s view: BMW claims the 335d is good for 0-60 mph acceleration times of six seconds, but that really isn’t the point of this car. This BMW cleverly hides its 4800 pound facade behind a trim exterior design and excellent fuel economy numbers in the hopes the interior doesn’t dampen your spirits. The small font lettering on the gauges is difficult to read and the red lighting of the dash rivals Audi’s for making it difficult to decipher numbers quickly at night. The iDrive that controls most every creature comfort and some driver information is still a bit complicated to use despite years of refining. Add to that the fact that on our test car it costs $400 for iPod/USB adapter and $595 for satellite radio and you see the dilemma potential buyers face. Does the right brained enjoyment of the cachet of owning a BMW that performs well and is fun to drive overwhelm the left brained objectivity that the diesel requires that urea (AdBlue)be injected into a catalyst to clean the exhaust and needs to be replaced at regular intervals, that the expensive optional stereo is overrated and getting in and out requires one be fairly supple? For me, the 5 series rules.

Family conference: A great performer that just happens to be extremely frugal to operate.

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