Fine performance and economy, but it's not an involving drive

What is it?

This is the upgraded BMW 335i Convertible, which gets a heavily upgradeded engine and some mild cosmetic tweaks.

Given that BMW’s twin-turbocharged straight six petrol engine was arguably one of the best petrol motors in its class, it comes as a surprise to some that the German maker has given it an overhaul and removed one of the turbochargers.

But the result is improved economy with no loss in the potency of the previous unit. Our test car came fitted with the German maker’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which allows the 302bhp 335i to achieve 205g/km and 32.1mpg whilst also managing 60mph in just 5.7sec.

What’s it like?

The good news is that the new engine doesn’t disappoint. The double-sided turbocharger endows the 3.0-litre unit with as much potency and flexibility as before. The slick transmission, the engine’s refinement and a comfortable cabin go a long way to making the 335i drop-top very liveable transport.

What is less succesful is the ride quality, which can crash uncomfortably and is restless at high speeds on a typical British b-road. The optional 18-inch alloys fitted to our test car didn’t help, so we’d suggest saving yourself £505 and sticking to the standard 17s.

The steering is also less than confidence-inspiring. Heavy and very artificial in feel, it never offers a sense of connection to the car and can feel inconsistent in response.

This isn’t to say that the 335i isn’t an entertaining-enough drive. Clearly the performance is ample and is accompanied by a rorty exhaust note that is especially pleasing with the clever folding metal roof tucked into the boot. Equally it has all the kerbside appeal that is essential to cars of this ilk.

Should I buy one?

The 335i Convertible is one of the most appealing cars in its class for many reasons, most of all its impressive combination of performance and economy as well as its style.

But even so, it’s fair to assume that if you are willing to pay over £40,000 to get the new 335i Cabriolet, rather than settling for one of its less potent siblings, handling matters. In this respect the 335i doesn’t quite live up to expectations. More pliant damping and involving steering would go a long way to making this an involving performance car as well as a fast cabriolet.

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munich_scotsman 13 May 2010

Re: BMW 335i DCT Convertible

I had a 2009 335i convertible which was one the first off the production line. Unfortunately I test drove the old model which frankly turned out to be head and shoulders over the new one. The handling was terrible, on anything other than a perfectly flat road the tracking was bad and at times damn right dangerous. There was an understeer that quickly turned into oversteer. The flappy peddles were all wrong and the steering wheel was that thick I thought about having my fingers surgically extended. To add to that the quality was more than bad. In 14 months I had two broken fuel pumps, a cracked alloy, broken gearbox, electrics windows that had a mind of their own, phone where nobody could hear what I said, the list goes on. In total it was over 2 months in the garage. And lets not talk about the service!!! Although having said that Sytner in High Wycombe who I finally ended up at were great. But its just not my car... I have found out that a lot of 2009 335i owners have similar problems and have complained to BMW. Needless to say BMW deny that they have any problems at all. A beautiful car with a fantastic engine but let down badly by everything else. If you are thinking about buying one have a look on the various boards that will confirm what a terrible car this has become.

Giom37 7 May 2010

Re: BMW 335i DCT Convertible

Why do testers always complain about the price when they're testing PREMIUM brand cars? Maybe they don't understand the meaning of the word, or, they themselfs can't afford a car at that price.

But then, shouldn't they know the demographic the car is aimed at? Maybe, they don't know the meaning of the word demographic. Someone should explain that most cars arn't designed to please testers.

McKeith 6 May 2010

Re: BMW 335i DCT Convertible

completely thrashed a 335i on a test drive around a local mountain and freeway, and i have to say, my middle aged budget family forester XT (at the time) felt slightly stronger and far more fun. a roll on with terminal velocity, at a known marker, proved the point that they are virtually on par in the real world.

i would say the interior quality of the hyundai i30 was slightly ahead of the bmw. the bmw orange peel paint was hysterical. another disgrace from Bavaria...or mexico???