2011 BMW 335is Coupe

Matt Tierney
2011 BMW 335is Coupe

As BMW continues to cut the 3-series pie into thinner and thinner slices, it's becoming difficult to discern the subtle differences among the models. This 335is slots in below the M3, and although its straight six has about 100 fewer horses than the M's V-8, it's more than quick enough to satisfy nearly any speed junkie. Some may argue that, at just under $52,000, the 335is is well worth the money, but to me, the extra power and M3-level hardware upgrades over the base 3-series model -- the superb 328i starts at a far more attainable $37,000 -- can only be appreciated on a closed course. If you don't plan to run your 3-series on the track, the less-expensive 3s will provide just as many smiles while having a more forgiving ride with only minor concessions to handling.

All that power is fun to play with, though. In fact, a stab of the throttle in any gear results in neck-snappingly strong thrust. The twin-turbos are extremely linear, and there's very little turbo whine to compete with the glorious racket that -- even in fairly restrained driving -- exits the dual exhaust pipes. It may not wear an M3 badge but it imitates, and ultimately competes with, its big brother quite convincingly.

Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms

I really like the optional ($1000) thin-spoked wheels on the 335is, as well as the cabin's brilliant red leather upholstery and cool snakeskin-like aluminum trim. The 335is is no appearance package, though. It's got twenty extra horsepower, seventy more pound-feet of torque, and an available seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (a first for a U.S.-market 3-series). I prefer shifting gears on my own with a traditional manual, but I cannot argue that BMW's so-called DCT is an awesome, ultraquick gearbox.

I found the steering feel to be less lively than that of an Audi S4 I drove the previous day, but that's more to the Audi's credit than to the BMW's detriment. The 335is coupe has lots of room in the back seats, too: a quartet of five-foot-six people could drive a long distance with no trouble or complaints. Still, $61K (as tested) for a 3-series does give one pause.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

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