BMW 335i Coupe M Sport

Powerful two-door 3-Series makes a strong case for itself

With BMW’s regular four-door 3-Series such a familiar sight on our roads, it was always going to take something special to make the Coupé stand out.

It’s tauter than the saloon, with its metalwork stretched tightly over the wheels. But when lined up against dedicated sports cars like the TT and Cayman, it looks a little ordinary. And although choosing M Sport trim helps the BMW blend a racy appearance without too much aggression, it’s still the most discreet model here.

At least the saloon car underpinnings and larger dimensions make it the most practical proposition. The 3 is a traditional four-seat coupé, so there’s a decent amount of space for rear passengers, plus a 430-litre boot. The cabin layout is conventional – as the dash is shared with the four-door – while there’s plenty of space and a great range of adjustment on the steering wheel and seat, so it’s easy to get comfortable.

The low driving position and long, frameless doors add a classy touch. Quality is difficult to fault, too, although despite the fact it’s impeccably put together, overall the 3-Series’ interior isn’t as attractively designed as the Audi’s.

The BMW is the only model here with the classic coupé configuration of a front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. However, what makes the 335i feel really special is its dazzling 3.0-litre straight-six powerplant. The unit is wonderfully smooth and sophisticated, feels cultured, sounds great and is hugely potent.

Weighing 1,600kg, the 3-Series is nearly 300kg heavier than the Porsche, and yet it’s quicker to react than the smaller Cayman. Peak torque of 400Nm arrives at 1,300rpm and is maintained all the way to 5,000rpm. The flexibility and responsiveness of this 306bhp twin-turbo engine means there’s no lag, hesitation or gap in the power band.

Such is the reserve of torque that there was a difference of only one second between using third or fourth during our 30-50mph test at the track. And while the Audi runs the BMW close for in-gear response, the 335i is punchier than the Porsche, and even matches the lighter Cayman’s 5.5-second 0-60mph time.

Yet at the same time, the quiet BMW offers great cruising ability. Even though it has sports suspension and run-flat tyres, the ride isn’t as uncompromising as you might expect. It’s firm but well damped – only rough surfaces cause problems.

In corners, the 335i can’t match the mid-engined Porsche’s agility due to its size and weight. There’s more body movement, yet the steering is precise and the handling crisp and well balanced. Strong brakes and a slick six-speed manual box are the final touches on a well engineered, charismatic coupé.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: Stylish BMW offers a practical four-seat cabin and a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine

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