Quick Drive: 2011 BMW 335is Coupe

By Winding Road Staff

September 28, 2011

I’ve been completely digging each exposure to the 335is since I first drove the car at New Jersey Motorsports Park last fall. Then, as now, the car seemed to blend the best parts of the 335i and the M3.

The 335is is subtle, too. There’s just enough performance on top of what the standard 35i offers to make you think you’re driving something special, but none of the harshness that can sometimes result from aftermarket adventures. The Dinan guys may have something to say about that, I admit, but until we’re able to put together a comparison along those lines, I’ll stick with recommending the factory car.

If there is fault to be found with this 3er, to me it seems to lie with the competition. Audi’s S4 offers a near-match in terms of performance and costs a few thousand dollars less than the 335is. Rear-drive versus all-wheel drive preference, or coupe versus sedan, may make these two cars less cross-shopped than I might imagine. But in terms of $50K-ish near-high-performance luxury machines the contest is close.

—Seyth Miersma, Editor-In-Chief

Unlike John and Seyth, this was my first time in a BMW 335is. The last time we had one, I never had a chance to sample it, so I remained woefully ignorant to the fact that it’s better than an M3 in every condition but a racetrack.

It’s the torque that really does it for me. There is so much of it, spread so linearly (once you get past the initial bit of turbo lag) across the rev range that it feels much more usable than an M3. Want to make a pass on the freeway? No downshifts required, unlike the M3 which forces you to drop two gears to muster up some serious passing power.

I also enjoyed the lower visual impact compared to the M3. There are no side vents, or power bulges in the hood, or quad exhausts on the back bumper. It sits a slight bit lower than a 335i Coupe, and wears some unique wheels, but looks otherwise is identical to a standard 3-Series Coupe. Hmmm, sleeper.

—Brandon Turkus, Test Fleet Manager


  • Most of the performance of the M3, at least in street driving situations
  • A beautiful torque spread offers easy speed in any gear
  • Understated yet aggressive looks versus the standard coupe


  • A performance (and price) middle child that some sporting buyers won’t quite get
  • Doesn’t have the aura associated with BMW M cars
  • Audi’s S4 is a talented competitor for less coin