Short Take Road Test: 2009 BMW 335d
By Erik Johnson of Car and Driver
It's no secret that we love BMWs. Indeed, browse any auto-enthusiast message board, and you'll no doubt read about the piles of fresh $100 bills that arrive in our office every month from some German dude named Bayerische M. Werke. The reality, though, is that bribes are unnecessary, especially in the case of the sensational 3-series. It's the benchmark vehicle for a benchmark company and a car we've called "terrific," "magical," "world-class," "definitive," and "a wing-footed god." (Although even we admit that that last one might be a bit much.)
Today, we add a new descriptor to our 3-series vocabulary: torquey sumbitch. For 2009, BMW has finally seen fit to offer a compression-ignition 3 in the U.S., gifting on us its twin-turbo 3.0-liter diesel engine, which pumps out a goodly sum of power (265 horsepower @ 4200 rpm) and a wicked level of twist (425 pound-feet @ 1750 rpm). Compared with a regular 335i sedan, which boasts 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, the 335d has 42 percent more torque while sacrificing just 12 percent in the power department. That, friends, is the sort of compromise we can live with.
That Old Familiar Feeling
The rest of the 335d experience is typical 3-series: perfect steering, sublime body control, strong braking performance (161 feet from 70 to 0 mph), and unparalleled ride quality. In fact, beyond the immense torque and abbreviated tach — redline is 5000 rpm — you'd never even know this is a diesel, especially with the windows up. Little noise clatters its way into the cabin, and our noses picked up no trace of diesel's unmistakable scent. Even with the windows down, this engine still sounds good. It has a throatier growl than BMW's gas-fired sixes and none of the click-clack harshness that characterizes most Americans' idea of a diesel soundtrack.
Fuel economy is rated at an impressive 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, improvements of 6 and 10 mpg over a 335i automatic sedan. Given current average national fuel prices ($2.49 per gallon for premium gasoline and $2.94 per gallon for diesel) and a 12,000-mile annual driving load, however, the fuel-cost saving of a 335d over a conventional 335i is minimal. If you were somehow able to achieve the rated highway mileage for every single mile of the 12,000, the 335d would save $169 annually, and it would take about nine-and-a-half years to recoup the extra cost of the diesel. If gasoline and diesel near parity again any time soon, however, the 335d would pay for itself more quickly.
iDrive We Can Live With
This Car Ain't Cheap
Are we crazy for loving this thing? Possibly. Stacked against a conventional 335i, the 335d costs more to put in your garage, isn't as quick, and might not end up saving much money on your annual fuel bill. All things considered, we'd stick with the 335i. With only irrational things considered, though, you can't help realizing that torque is fun and so is the 335d. So do what we did: Borrow somebody else's, and have one hell of a good time.
C/D TEST RESULTS: