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BMW 3-Series: Driving perfection
335i latest genius from automaker
Published Monday, April 23, 2012 7:12 am
by Winfred B. Cross

I donít get to drive BMWs often but it only takes a few seconds of seat time to remember why I like them so much: nothing else drives like one.

BMW's 3-Series is close to perfection from a driving standpoint.

Nope, there is no other less-than-exotic maker that gives you this kind of visceral feeling. You just like them. You donít even have to think about it. You just know you do.

I still think the 3-Series is so close to perfection itís scary. Thatís from a driving point of view. It has lots to knock Ė price, missing equipment that should be standard, interior room. Those are just quibbles when compared to the overall pleasurable driving experience.

Itís the driving, stupid, I tell myself. Since the Ď80s, this has been the sedan to beat and from a pure driving sense it still is.

Iím a little put off by the manual transmission in this 335i. Itís not the snic-snic feel I remember. Itís just a tad rubbery now. Not so much to make you want an automatic but noticeable still. Itís still smooth enough to allow you to click through the gears and wring all the 300 horses from the 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder. You can still blast down your favorite stretch of highway and get that BMW grin.

Curvy roads. Not a problem. This car loves the challenge and will take on the best you can find while delivering a comfortable enough ride to satisfy those who simply bought the car for status. Yes, that still happens.

There is a gaggle of safety equipment in case you get too silly. Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control can bail you out as well as those marvelous ventilated discs with ABS. If Iím remembering correctly, you can switch some of that off if you want to prove how great a driver you are to yourself. I think. I didnít shut anything off.

My test model included a $2,100 sport package that includes a sports leather steering wheel, sports seats and a retuned suspension. Donít know how much this improves the handling but I can tell you this is one of the best handling cars you can get. Braking, steering and handling are superb.

My quibbles arenít limited to the stuff I mentioned earlier. At $40,600 there are no telematics. Thatís a dealer-installed option. These are leatherette seats, not leather. The radio was OK, but an iPod and USB adapter is an optional $400? Really.

That said, Iíd plunk down the $44,525 BMW wants for this sedan if I had it to give. The warranty is good, gas mileage is OK for such a car and Iíd even take the Alpine White paint job. If the company could cut me a great deal on a 6-Series convertible, I forget about the 335i. That would be sooooooo sweet.

WINFRED B. CROSS is The Post's automotive critic.


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