For those who read my test of the M3 in the September issue last year, will know that I had one of the most exciting driving experiences ever, finding the abilities of this amazing car. However, the M3’s limits are incredibly high, and the cost of exploring such performance attacks the bank account once the fuel gauge plummets to empty.
While the car put one of the biggest smiles on my face, environmentally and economically, the M3 is not all that friendly. And this has been a real problem for a select group of auto enthusiasts who do want to be responsible to both the planet and our wallets, but can’t stand the single mindedness of a hybrid. Lets face it, hybrids are for those hell bent on being the cleanest driver they can possibly be, likewise with the cars themselves, as any and all performance has been sacrificed for the all-mighty L/100km number. They just aren’t any fun to drive. So what do we as eco responsible motor enthusiasts do?
This brings us to BMW’s 335d. With a 3.0L twin turbo inline-6 being run off diesel, this engine puts out an expected 265 hp, but a mind blowing 425 lb-ft of torque. That’s 130 more than the M3. Couple this great engine with the already proven advantages of the 3-series tight body with 50/50 weight distribution, the 335d comes right in line with BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” motto. Following the same route I took in the M3, this 335d had my adrenaline flowing near to the extent of the M3. It is a car that flourishes on a narrow winding mountain road, and will reward the driver for such a grand choice. While my fuel economy with the M3 was what you would expect a high revving 4.0L V-8 to be, having just as much fun in the 335d, yielded a combined 7.7L/100km, and I wasn’t going easy on her. That is absolutely remarkable seeing as I could only manage 8.1L on a hypermiling run of a medium sized Japanese sedan along the same route. While in town I was enjoying 5.9L/100km doddling around in the city.
So is it actually like driving an M3 without the cost? No, nothing can top the abilities of the M3, and what they do to
the driver’s senses. Driving a diesel is much different than driving the M3. For best performance, you want to be playing around in the upper limits of the rev range. The cars ridiculous amounts of grip plus the sound that emits from flirting with 8,000rpm, all come together for a truly unique driving experience. When driving the diesel, staying in the power band means staying in the torque, which is found down low in the rev range. You do get that same kick in the chest as 425 lb-ft rockets you forward, its just much more civil and organized manner than the blurring madness of the M3.
The 335d also has upgrades of qualities I really don’t like in BMW’s. My dislike of Bangle design era continues on with the 3-series, although they have made it a little more attractive with a facelift, adding LED blinkers front and rear and a slight fascia redesign. The once hair-pullingly frustrating act of operating the iDrive system is now improved in its third generation, and even I am starting to come to terms with it’s increased simplicity. Finally, while the actual CO2 levels are lower than its petrol burning brother, the diesel still can’t quite match the level of tailpipe cleanliness that a full blown hybrid possess. So if the environmental aspects concern you most, the hybrid may be the choice for you. However if you don’t want to let go of the love of the drive aspect, the 335d is an impressive drivers machine.
Price as tested:
Layout: Front Engine – Rear Wheel Drive
Engine: 3.0L Twin turbo Inline-6 Diesel
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic with manual shift
Brakes: Four-wheel Disc
Curb Weight: 1,735 kg
Towing Capacity: NA
0-100 km/h: 6.0 sec
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): 9.1/5.4L/100km