Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Second Wind. Driving the BMW 335i Sedan.

A second wind is largely used to describe a phenomenon, whereby an athlete who is out of breath suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion. Could it be true of this 335i i have at my disposal?

With the latest 3 series now unveiled, perhaps it is time to take another look at the last of the E-designated 3's, the E90. It's been almost 6 years since the E90 was introduced, being the successor to the handsome E46, many critics again spoke ill of the new 3's Bangle-d styling, but like all of E90's contemporaries, it has aged considerably well. Losing the daffy duck kidney lips and procuring a leaner chiselled face during the process of it's lifespan.

This 3 Series i have with me though is not your ordinary run-of-the-mill 3 you see pottering around your neighbourhood. It also isn't JUST a license-killing Twin scroll boosted 335i sedan either. What this is in fact, is a fully kitted out 335i laden with BMW Performance Parts. The total sum of these parts alone will set you back a smigen over 40Gs.

Those BMW racing seats, cup and hold you into place tighter than Wonderbra's latest offerings. While you are stuck to your seat, grab hold of that lovely alcantara laced BMW Performance wheel, choked full of gadgetry you'd never imagine would be inside a steering wheel of a road car.

With a LCD screen staring right at you and delivering information you'll never really need (but is totally cool anyway) when driving down Orchard Road. Unidiectional G-force readings, lap timers, acceleration timers, vehicle information and a set of LEDs that light up as your revs build and blink furiously when it is time to shift up. Do yourself a favour and shell out for this wheel, if only to make you think you are behind the wheel of a full-fledged race car.

After you are done fiddling with the steering wheel (i took about half an hour), give the starter button a push and listen as the tweaked exhaust notes permeate into the cabin. It fires up with a bark and settles down into a slightly hollow fizzy burble. To be honest, it could do with more low end tones but i suspect the engineers left bassy beats out to cut out any droning noises when the car is cruising. You sort of wish there was a button which will allow more of that exhaust music to come into the cabin though, as it is now, people outside the car will get to enjoy the howl of the boosted straight-six more than the driver.

Speaking of which, when you finally step out of the car (after giving it a proper drive of course), apart from that lovely bodykit and those gorgeous 19inch wheels, you'd notice little bits of carbon extras ($$$) which set this E90 apart from the rest. The wing mirrors and the tail spoiler both sport the exotic carbon finish. All these parts come straight of the BMW Performance Parts options list, even those stripey stickers along the flanks.

How does this kitted up 335i drive? The regular 335i is already a very accomplished BMW and in tricked out "BMW Performance" form, is it any better? That will really depend on how you perceive "better" to be. The ride with a lower and revised suspension setup is harsher and you'd feel it. The throttle response with a slight power up is addictively er, responsive. Push the drumstick gearknob into sport mode and the gearbox does a good job of selecting the proper ratios to keep you in the powerband and allowing you to slingshot past all the pesky turbo-diesel taxis on the roads.

If you are the sort of driver who enjoys a good blast down your local roads and you enjoy talking to other people about the differences between under and oversteer, yes, you will enjoy these chassis enhancements.

If perhaps you are the sort of driver who prefers a car which doesn't jiggle your bottom and underwear too much, maybe you should leave the "Chassis upgrade" box unchecked.

That is the beauty of these Perfomrance parts, allowing you to customise your wants and giving you the choice to either go the full hog or just take in the bits you fancy.

If you ever find yourself to be in the lucky shoes of someone ticking off these parts, my choice bits would be that gorgeous steering wheel, all the exterior bits and paraphernalia, the chassis/power upgrades and those fancy stickers along the side. The 19-inch baller wheels although fabulous to look at, take too a bit too much off the ride and having to constantly look out for portholes might be tiresome in the long run. The wonderful Performance seats again, are a sight to behold, but at over 9 grand a pair, might leave your wallets feeling a little uncomfortable. They do a great job of holidng you in place when you are driving balls-out, but you don't drive balls-outs everytime you get behind the wheel. Glossy brouchures might make you think you do, but the reality is that 80% of the time, you are going to be stuck in traffic on your daily sojourn to the office and back wishing you'd have seats with a little more squish. Having to go through the look of incredibility on all passengers faces when you tell them you paid "HOW MUCH?" for non-electric setas might get boring after a while too. With these parts installed, this 335i will be pressing on at it's peak while shooting off into the sunset with tyres smoking and turbos boosting!


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