If there's one stereotype of an automotive journalist I don't mind living up to, it's the unadulterated love for BMW's 3-series. Although my last experience with the car (a 328i sedan with summer tires) was marred by several inches of snow, my weekend spent with this 335i coupe was nothing short of perfection.
Although we thought this turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 was a bit too powerful in our Four Seasons 135i, it's arguably a bit too much motor even for the heavier 3-series. Once you've coaxed the engine past its initial turbo lag, you're presented with a fat 300-lb-ft of torque. The I-6 loves to rev up to its redline, all the while feeling smooth and amazingly refined. The same can be said for the six-speed manual gearbox - the shifter is buttery smooth, and clutch action nicely weighted, erring if at all on the side of firmness.
The 335i continues to shine - as 3-series cars always have - once you've thrown it toward an apex. Our test car handled tight corners with aplomb, all the while feeling remarkably balanced and tossable. This isn't quite a track-tuned wundercar, mind you - the suspension is able to traverse a great deal of Michigan's marred roads without bruising any internal organs.
As much as I admire the 335i's mechanicals, I'm just as much a fan of the interior. I do miss the driver-oriented cockpits of the early '90s, but the controls are still cleanly arranged and easy to reach. Bluetooth, iPod, and Sirius satellite radio menus are easy to learn, despite being relegated to a narrow two-line display on the dashboard. I was shocked that the $2000 premium package didn't include heated functions (they're an extra $300), but seeing as the hides used on the cushions and door panels are just as sumptuous as those in our Four Seasons 750Li, I can justify the expense.
The uninitiated will look at the $50,000 price tag this 335i wears, scoff, and walk towards an Infiniti G37. They're missing out - that price tag is well worth it for what may be the greatest midsize coupe on the market.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer