286bhp, 427lb ft and 1570kgs – quite fast, presumably?
Oh yes. BMW points out that the new 335d is the most powerful diesel engine it has sold in the UK and the most powerful six-pot diesel in the world. Crammed into a little 3-series - we tested the coupe, but you can order it in the saloon or touring - it produces a titanically, toweringly fast car. But for those used to quick petrol cars, it’s a different and deceptive kind of fast. Rev it out to the redline from standstill and the diesel produces a deep, six-pot yowl. But it does its most impressive work at speeds in excess of, erm, 69mph, the rev needle flicking lazily from 1500 to 2500rpm, the engine almost silent but producing torque so vast, solid and palpable you feel you can reach out and touch it, and acceleration so at odds with the car’s otherwise utterly calm demeanour that it’s very easy to get caught out. This kind of performance is odd, rare and distinctive. You need to experience it.
Give me some numbers to keep me going until my test drive…
That 286bhp is actually 12bhp more than the 535d gets, though the Fünfer will be uprated soon. The peak torque of 427lb ft comes in at just 1750rpm. The 2993cc straight-six is twin-turbocharged and works a six-speed auto box with wheel-mounted shifters. 0-62mph is done in 6.1sec and the top speed is limited to 155mph, but it’s the imperious in-gear acceleration that really impresses. And this diesel supercar promises a combined 37.7mpg and a CO2 figure of 200g/km.
Now, at £35,475 for the coupe tetsted, but only in SE trim until early next year when the M Sport version arrives. The 335d SE gets sports suspension as standard, one step firmer than the standard coupe suspension of lesser models, and 17-inch wheels with 225-section tyres which can be upgraded to 18s or 19s. The M Sport will have springs and dampers one step firmer still, 18s as atandard and M Sport styling.
Worth waiting for?
Not necessarily. The M Sport package fitted to 3-series saloons and tourings can produce a busy ride over poor surfaces. We tried a 335d Coupe SE on its standard 17-inch rubber and thought it was a good compromise. There was some road roar over harsh surfaces, but the ride was generally calm and quiet, without affecting the chassis’s ability to cope with the cornering forces that engine can generate with typical BMW competence. At low speeds the steering in the diesel is very heavy; heavier than the equivalent petrol 335i's, probably due to the extra weight over the nose. Could be a pain if you spend a lot of time driving in town, but it lightens and resolves with speed. We're talking about the standards steering setup though: you can order the variable-geared active steering but you trade feel for lightness.
Must be some downsides to having a diesel?
Not really – not unless you’re absolutely obsessed with revs, or insist on changing gear yourself – the 335d is auto-only. You can tell it’s a diesel at tickover but it’s exceptionally quiet with almost no vibration through the control surfaces. At speed, it’s silken. You don’t even have to suffer downturned exhaust pipes any more – the 335d has two chromed cans on either side.
Expensive – particularly once you’ve added the sat-nav these things demand - but worth it. This is probably our favourite 3-series so far, but maybe the most exciting thing is the knowledge that BMW has had to make the new M3 significantly faster and better than this.