Everything you would expect from a BMW... and more.
Wayne Gerdes and Ken Gordon - CleanMPG
- April 19, 2009
The 2009 BMW 335d - Starting at $43,900, $55,545 as reviewed and rated 27 mpgUS combined on the 08 EPA.
If ever there was a Triple Crown winner in the automotive world, surely the BMW 335d would be that rose-covered recipient in the Winner’s Circle. The 335d provides the best balance of straight line performance and exceptional handling, all-out luxury in an aesthetically pleasing design, and excellent fuel economy - a champion if ever there was one.
To begin, we examine the 335d’s 50-State emissions compliant 3.0L inline 6 turbo-diesel engine and emissions package. Although a heavyweight at 3,825 pounds, the super-diesel generates over 425 lb-ft. of torque at just 1,750 RPM. Performance is enhanced by swirl valves within the intake ports, a dual-sized twin turbo, and third generation common rail injection with piezo-electric injectors. This fuel delivery system allows multiple injections per power stroke at 26,000 psi. The turbos operate in a sequential manner for smooth power delivery; the small turbo operates at low RPM, both turbos operate in tandem at mid-range RPM, and only the large turbo truly provides boost at high RPM.
Ultra-high pressure injection insures the fuel is very finely atomized -- leading to a more complete combustion process. Throttle response and handling is such that overtaking maneuvers can be completed without ever reaching the 335d’s peak output of 265 HP. This outstanding performance is combined with the truly remarkable ability to cruise at highway speeds while demanding only twice idle RPM from the capable powerplant... and receiving over 50 mpg in the process!
The diesel emissions package found on this BMW should be considered standard fare for large displacement turbo-diesels reaching U.S. shores. The Intake/Exhaust includes a high pressure EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system, while the exhaust stream is processed by a DOC (Diesel Oxidation Catalyst), DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter), a Urea bulk tank feeding an active injection tank, an injection metering pump, and an upstream injection into a mixer just ahead of the SCR (Selective Catalyst Reduction) Catalyst.
2009 BMW 335d Competitive Comparisons
|Year||Make||Model||MSRP (US Dollars)||Interior Volume (cu. ft.)||FE combined|
|2009||Audi||A4 3.2||$40,400||91||20 mpg|
2009 BMW 335d Specifications
The BMW 335d’s pricing and specifications can be viewed in the CleanMPG - New Fuel Efficient Automobile Specifications
forum in the following: 2009 BMW 335d Turbo-diesel
2009 BMW 335d – Safety Equipment and Crash Test Ratings
As with most highly rated vehicles today, the 335d offers an impressive array of both active and passive safety features as standard equipment. The vehicle's Xenon Adaptive headlight technology that “steers” along with the front wheels also features auto-leveling to maintain accurate aim and reduce glare for oncoming motorists, throughout and in spite of performance maneuvers. Front cornering lamps also direct an angled beam to enhance the driver's view of the road in low speed and sharp turns. Both of these illuminate when the vehicle's reverse gear is engaged. At the rear, adaptive Brake Lights warn upcoming drivers of hard braking.
Also included are Active front head restraints, 2-stage, optimally configured front-impact airbags, front-seat side-impact airbags, a front-to-rear, and a curtain-type Head Protection system deployed from the interior ceiling. The standard front safety belts with automatic pre-tensioners are of course part of the system.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by features, and Dynamic Traction Control (DTC) are all standard equipment.
An interlocking door anchoring system helps protect against door intrusion during side impacts and an Impact sensor activates Battery Safety terminal disconnect of the alternator, fuel pump, and starter from battery. In the event of an impact the 335d will automatically unlock the doors and activate both hazard and interior lights.
The NHTSA rates the 3-Series sedan in a 35-mph head on crash test at 4 stars for both driver and passenger. Their 38.5 mph side impact crash test rates the 3-Series BMW as excellent with 5 stars for both front and rear occupants.
Though the NHTSA rates the 3-Series at just 4 stars for rollover, the low center of gravity makes this an unlikely event.
The IIHS awards the 3-Series sedan a top score of Good across the board for their 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. The 31 mph side impact crash test results leave the 3-Series with a top rated Good overall. In this test the driver received two Average scores for injury to the Torso and Pelvis but the passenger received a top Good rating for all measures.
2009 BMW 335d Comfort, Amenities and Ergonomics
It is nearly impossible to find someone who is unable to achieve a comfortable position in either of the 335d’s two well-designed front seats. The power seats include not just fore and aft adjustment, but also height and angle adjustments. Electric side bolstering adjustments and a power lumbar support (optional) not only extend the back of the seat both in and out but also allow positioning anywhere from the lower to upper middle back. There are even lower seat cushion extensions for additional comfort customization.
Additionally, the seat motors are extremely quiet during adjustment.
A tilt and telescoping steering wheel combines with perfect positioning of the center armrest and driver's window sill to present owners with the ultimate in automotive comfort.
Front and Rear seating positions.
Rear seating volume comes at a premium and the vehicle will never be a comfortable family cruiser for those in the second row. For a professional couple with no children, empty nesters, or those simply interested in a second performance commuter, owners will find the front seats almost too comfortable.
Climate Control - Diesels can be so efficient at low power demand that little waste heat is available for warming the interior in cold temperatures. To counteract this, BMW has augmented the normal heater system with an electrically activated ceramic boost heater located inside the conventional heater box.
Dual-Auto Climate controls up front and a climate control unit in the rear will keep all occupants comfortable. Settings include Auto, dual Auto, and manual modes. A tap of the front windscreen defrost clears the view ahead almost instantly.
Two large cup holders swing out of the dash for occupants of the front seats. Unfortunately, they are not conveniently placed for either the driver or the passenger.
The optional i-Drive based Navigation system is easy to navigate once the driver becomes accustomed to its menu driven system. The large split or full screen display is easy to read, and has a multitude of customized options to fit your needs. It updates very rapidly, includes traffic alerts, and quickly reroutes. Unfortunately, even with the Arrow guide mode screen, deep within NY City with multiple exits occurring on the same off-ramp, it frustrated with an inability to present a turn solution early enough to maintain the intended travel path.
The Cruise Control and separate Turn Signal stalks are just slightly too close to one another and can cause inadvertent activation of both functions when only one was desired.
An Auto-dimming rear view mirror is a standard for most luxury vehicles today but this BMW features side view mirrors with the same function. An unexpected but very welcome addition.
The Bi-Xenon Headlamps are not only very bright but also well focused with a tight cutoff. The mandatory Xenon headlight auto-adjusting system worked as designed, keeping the road well lit without blinding oncoming motorists. The Headlamp - Auto steer system worked as advertised, presenting the driver with excellent illumination of curves. As bright as the "low" beams are, the high beams transform night into day and road signs are clearly visible well over a mile ahead.
The Smart Entry/Start system (part of the Convenience Access system) works as expected but may be a bit too sensitive. While detailing the 335d after arriving home from NY, every time water spray came near the door handles, the car would lock and unlock. Note to self: Do not carry the Smart Key when washing this car.
There are quite a few Bluetooth/Navigation systems available from auto manufacturers and the BMW system worked flawlessly with a Motorola RAZR -- perhaps better than any other system tested by CleanMPG. It only required pairing once and presented no issues for the rest of the review period. This is not the case with the latest systems in Hondas, Toyotas or Fords. Those are all plagued by frequent pairing disconnects, resulting in significant reductions in ease of use.
Along with the excellent Bluetooth system, the AM/FM Stereo, XM/Sirius, HD Radio, and NAVI speech was the best we have ever tested. Honda/Acura’s Alpine system used to be one of the best but cannot compare to the clarity of the excellent BMW system. It accepts auxiliary inputs from an iPod or MP3 player and includes Voice Activated NAVI when so equipped. The system offers top notch sound without having to do anything but press the Power button.
2009 BMW 335d Performance
The 335d turbo-diesel's 0 - 60 times of less than 6 seconds is more than sufficient for traffic encountered within NY City, Chicago, LA, and all points between. In fact, it is remarkable that a vehicle capable of such extreme acceleration and speeds in excess of 150 mph offers the excellent FE observed during our review.
With a skid-pad G rating of almost .9, it takes a violent turn to break the 335d loose. With large mall parking lots filled with winter sand and debris, we chose a closed Weigh Station with clean pavement to test the 335d’s handling capabilities. Entering at 30 mph with an immediate 45 degree turn did not break it loose. On the next run, entering at 30+ and taking the 335d into an immediate 90 degree turn resulted in under-steer for a fraction of a second before the characteristically sure footing returned. This maneuver was performed three times with ever sharper angles and each time, the same slight feeling of under-steer was followed by a solid and smooth exit. It is doubtful anyone would reach this vehicle's limits on dry pavement in normal traffic scenarios.
60 - 0 panic stops occur in less than 130 feet on dry pavement.
The BMW 335d offers what can only be described as near street-racing performance with incredible acceleration and braking, but what does it offer in terms of Fuel Economy? As with all our reviews, this parameter is by far the most important measure once drivability minimums are surpassed. “Trust me,” the 335d is far beyond the minimums.
Had this been a standard compact or mid-sized sedan rated at 27 mpgUS combined, we would not have requested a review unit. However, because this is a full-on performance luxury vehicle with a diesel engine, we wanted to see what it was really worth. Anything over 45 mpgUS would have impressed us... and the BMW definitely exceeded our expectations. During the BMW 335d – Chicago to NY on a single tank
drive, it offered up 49.3 mpgUS over 812.8 miles. Though the 335d was on fumes it not only allowed us to reach NY City, but well into Long Island before refueling.
2009 BMW 335d Fuel Economy FCD and Actual results
Chicago area Mobil Station for initial top off.
The Chicago to NY tank was initially topped off at the South Chicago Oasis and topped off again for the second time in Hicksville, NY. Initial odometer reading was 3,969 miles with the final at 4,782.
Not bad considering almost 400 miles of the 812.8 miles were driven in a snow storm and below freezing temps.
We left out the return trip metrics due to an unrealistic 15 + mph tail wind allowing individual segment averages from 48.0 to 54.7 mpg with average speeds ranging from 64 to 68 mph. Here is just one segment of the return trip after 120 miles at 53.4_mpg while averaging 64.8 mph
|Date||Odometer (miles)||Driver||Temps (Degrees F)||Segment Distance (miles)||Tank Distance (miles)||Tank FCD (mpgUS)|| DTE (miles)||Notes|
|04/07/09||3,969||Wayne||47||0||Reset||NA||NA||Topped off in Chicago.|
|04/07/09||4,093||Wayne||39 - 47||123.8||123.8||51.1|| - ||Break and Driver Swap.|
|04/07/09||4,200||Ken||39 - 34||107.4||231.2||50.0|| - ||Break and Driver Swap.|
|04/07/09||4,389||Wayne||34 - 28||188.9||420.1||49.0||367||Break and Driver Swap. Snowing for half the segment. |
|04/07/09||4,577||Ken||28 - 33||187.4||607.5||49.0||215||Break and Driver Swap. Snowing the entire segment.|
|04/08/09||4,676||Wayne||33 - 28||99.5||707.0||49.0||100||Break and Driver Swap. Snowing the entire segment.|
|04/08/09||4,782||Ken||31 - 43||105.8||812.8||49.0||- 23||Pulled into a Mobil for diesel top off. Snowing about ¼ of this segment.|
A short note about running diesels to fuel starvation is appropriate at this point. Do not do it! If you do, you may want to have a crescent wrench to pull the fuel coupling into the common rail. Upon refilling, the low pressure line must be primed. Once a solid stream of fuel is achieved, reconnecting the fuel line should allow normal ignition. Needless to say, this is a messy proposition.
The analog based iFCD meter does not have enough resolution to show what is actually being consumed. Compounding this is the behavior of the aFCD at averages above 30 mpgUS -- it begins displaying in larger than .1 mpg increments. It seems likely that the aFCD is being calculated from a metric L/100 km actual measurement -- this would account for the loss of resolution as fuel consumption is reduced.
In plain English, this means that as the FE average ranges upward, less resolution is offered by the display. Here are the actual aFCD readouts displayed from 36 mpg up (as observed):
36.1, 36.7, 37.3, 37.9, 38.5, 39.2, 39.8, 40.5, 41.2, 42.0, 42.7, 43.5, 44.3, 45.2, 46.1, 47.0, 48.0, 49.0, 50.0, 51.1, 52.2, 53.4, 54.7, 56.0, 57.3, 58.8, 60.3, 61.9 and 63.5 mpgUS.
|2009 BMW 335d EPA FE ratings||City||Highway||Combined||CleanMPG Observed Fuel Economy|
|US||23 (mpgUS)||36 (mpgUS)||27 (mpgUS)||49.30 (mpgUS)|
|British Imperial||27.6 (mpgIMP)||43.2 (mpgIMP)||32.4 (mpgIMP)||59.2 (mpgIMP)|
|European Metric||10.2 L/100 km||6.5 L/100 km||8.7 L/100 km||4.8 (L/100 km)|
Review Tank data: 812.8 miles on 16.485 gallons = 49.305 mpgUS.
2009 BMW 335d FE Techniques
A full write-up of the driving techniques available can be found in the following: 2009 BMW 335d FE_Techniques Explained
2009 BMW 335d Impressions and Conclusion
One of the few areas in need of improvement is BMW’s Diesel IPFS (Incorrect Fueling Protection System). It is important that the individual considering the 335d read the BMW’s Diesel Incorrect Fueling Protection System - standard across the EU and North America
thread in its entirety. The US does not currently have a standard sized Diesel fuel nozzle and the workaround is possibly more important than finding a local station selling diesel to begin with.
As expected from any diesel, the 335d exhibits low frequency clatter at idle and lower speeds. Once up to speed however, no gasoline engine will ever compare to the menacing growl that BMW’s 3.0L Super-Diesel emits when awaken from its slumber. It was truly an amazing experience to be decisively shoved into the back of our seats when the 335d’s 3.0L turbo-diesel was let loose. We only did this once.
The 335d is not meant to take the family to a local mall or on a cross-country vacation. It is meant for the individual who wants to blast up an empty mountain road every once in a while for the sheer pleasure of it... and then head out to an exotic dinner with his or her significant other. If you are such a person and drive a relatively long highway commute, there is not much more any automaker can offer in terms of creature comforts and performance while also achieving the small carbon footprint exhibited by the 335d.
For an individual of means concerned by our present oil dependence, yet required to drive a considerable number of highway miles in his or her daily grind, the BMW 335d is one of the best vehicles available to date. It will not match the latest small fuel misers or latest hybrids in city/highway fuel economy but those vehicles will never match the performance capabilities of the BMW. This vehicle truly strikes an exquisite balance between ultimate performance, luxury, comfort and fuel economy with a pleasant interior wrapped in a beautiful exterior.
A thank you goes out to Mickey Martin, Bill Hughes and Matthew Hruska of STI for dropping off and picking up the BMW 335d. I want to also thank Sean Lobosco, BMW’s Press Fleet Specialist and Thomas Plucinsky, BMW’s Product and Technology Communications Manager for providing CleanMPG with the opportunity to drive this excellent luxury Turbo Diesel.
STI’s Mickey Martin behind and Bill Hughes up front.
Saying goodbye to the mighty BMW 335d Super-Diesel.
Finally, this review would not be possible without the editing capabilities of our own Sean Welch (Right Lane Cruiser). Thank you Sean!