2010 Automobile All-Stars

BMW 335d | Our kind of fuel sipper.
By Ezra Dyer

Can we have a bit of fanfare, please? The BMW 335d is the most important car this year to get lost in the crowd. While the 335i and the M3 always show up in comparison tests, the 335d is an outlier - because, really, what would you compare it with? There's no other car that combines performance and fuel economy at this level. Sure, there are many cars that do 0 to 60 mph in six seconds, but they don't get 36 mpg on the highway. There are cars that match the 335d's fuel economy, but they don't top out at 149 mph. From behind the wheel, the 335d feels even faster than its numbers suggest, because the diesel six cranks out more torque than a 6.2-liter Corvette - 425 lb-ft. And despite the diesel's weight penalty (220 pounds more than a 335i automatic), the car maintains a 51/49 front/rear weight distribution, which means that the 3-series' sweet rear-wheel-drive handling survives intact.

Most diesels, even high-output modern ones, dispense their power in a sudden burst of thrust, followed by a pause for an upshift. Not this one. The 335d pulls hard all the way to its 4200-rpm power peak, and its standard automatic transmission grabs the next gear so quickly that an acceleration run is a relentless shove until you let off the gas (er, diesel). So the 335d is game for hard driving when you're in the mood, but it can also return subcompactlike fuel economy. And, in one of the coolest tax laws ever, the U.S. government will give you a $900 tax credit to buy this twin-turbo BMW.

If BMW built a unique-bodied hybrid that returned the numbers that the 335d does, it would be a huge sensation. But because the 335d looks like a normal 3-series (itself a perennial All-Star, by the way) and doesn't wear a hybrid badge, we already tend to take its achievements for granted. We shouldn't.

base price: $44,725
engine: 3.0L twin-turbo diesel I-6, 265 hp, 425 lb-ft

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