BMW Blog took the 2011 BMW 335is on a week long test drive. This performance coupe delivers 320 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. With an overboost function, sports suspension calibration, standard oil cooler and an additional water cooler, the 335is is a pretty good complement to the 3 Series fleet. The verdict? This is a very nice car to have -- perfect for the road and track. Here is an excerpt of their review.

The voice of a sports car…

Upon starting the engine, a quick chill ran down our spine. The soundtrack reminds of an M3 or other naturally aspirated engines, due to a loose exhaust system that allows for more exciting acoustics. Revving up and goofing around for a bit, just simply put a big grin on our faces. The car not only has the looks of a tuned up, performance car, but it also sounds like one, both at idle and full throttle. This was the moment the 335is started to get extra points in our book and somewhat made us feel more comfortable with the price difference from the standard 335i, a $7,000 price premium.

“is“ branded cabin…

The interior of the 335is gets special steel cover plates for the pedals, gauges with the “is” logo in appealing fonts, an M Sport steering wheel, sports seats and black headliner. Other than these extras, all looks and feels like a 3 Series.

A track performer, yet still a perfect commuter.

As much as we all enjoy some track time and dream of being the next Michael Schumacher, reality is that most of us end up using the 335is as your usual commuter car. And Chicago offers the most painful driving experience with its stop-and-go traffic. But on the bumpy Illinois roads, the 335is behaves basically the same as the 335i with M Sport suspension, a firm, stiff ride, yet one that connects the driver even more with the road. Clearly, a car geared towards enthusiasts and people that love to drive and where ride comfort takes the back seat.

Manual shifting is painless and effortless, matching the clutch with its very precise feel of engagement and disengagement, yet not too stiff for street driving.

Overall, a fun commuter vehicle, eager for open roads and tight corners to conquer, and that was our next stop…

Mutual love between the track and the performance “is” coupe

The race track is where the 335is really shines. To test its abilities once again, we headed to Autobahn race track in Joliet, Illinois. Back in May, the 335is passed its first exam with flying colors, the drifting and fast laps at the NJ Motorsport Park serve as supporting evidence. Therefore, this time we decided to take the 335is through slower rounds around the race track while chasing that smoothness and consistency across several hot laps.

The driving position and chassis feel are incredible, and those of you that love manuals, you will find the six-speed transmission as being an early Christmas gift. If you’re one of those chasing performance and have enhanced driving abilities, you will enjoy the pedal positioning that allows perfect heel-and-toe downshifts. Despite using the N54 twin-turbo engine, the lack of turbo lag is admirable. Full torque kicks in at around 1,200 rpm and the throttle response is one of the quickest we have experienced recently.

Straight lines, tight and wide corners, all seem an easy task for the 335is and the idea behind the “is” models starts to slowly make more sense.

There is no doubt the 335is performs on the track and many enthusiasts will be pleased by the power boost over the regular 335i from the factory.


….but is it worth the price tag?

The eternal question and most of the time the decisive factor in a purchase. Looking at the base prices, the 2011 335i Coupe runs about $7,000 lower than the performance enhanced 335is. A quite significant amount for an aero bodykit and a mild power upgrade. But wait, let’s introduce all the facts. The regular 335i does not include the 335is’ sport pack standard equipment, a package that sells for around $1,550. If our math is better than it used to be in fourth grade, the cost difference at this point is near the $5,500 mark, an amount that we can live with and most likely the BMW purists would too.

The legendary M3 sits about $9,000 higher than the 335is, and we believe it plays in its own lease.

Conclusion.

For a roughly $7,000 premium, or significantly less if we consider the sport package option on a regular 335i, the new performance coupe models offer a more appealing sporty look, higher performance and joy of driving over the 335i that sits in our garage as well, which might stay there for a while since it still rocks our world.

Bottom line is that BMW is currently offering lots of options in the 3er line-up and choices can and will be more difficult, but a purchase advise is not wise at the moment since it varies from case to case, and based on different needs.

Tough choice, but a nice one to have…

Source: BMW Blog