First Drive: BMW Performance 335i

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

BMW Performance 335i

Not so long ago we had the privilege of spending some time with Eric Riehle Accessory Development Manager for BMW Performance and Motorsport as well as a fully equipped 335i. The 335i was in sedan form as BMW Performance does not currently offer as extensive a list of parts for the coupe (yet). As most of our readers know, BMW Performance is the official BMW tuning arm. All parts are designed, tested and built to BMW specifications and include a full warranty.

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

Performance

This car was the first car we have driven with the official BMW Performance Engine Kit installed. The car was equipped with the enthusiasts ‘ preferred six-speed manual so the rated output is officially 320 hp/ 317 ft-lbs, a bit lower than the automatic version. The car featured the full suspension and the acoustically addicting sport exhaust as well as the remainder of the parts catalog. Our last encounter with this car was prior to the engine tune and it is fair to say that the engine kit makes it sound even better, nice and throaty without that annoying highway drone we all dislike so much.

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

The kit also provides a noticeable performance improvement as evidenced by our always sensitive butt based dynometer.Fuel economy is reported to be similar to a base 335i (can’t really comment on that as we do not drive like the EPA thinks we should).

The engine provides ample grunt for spirited road driving and will be equally at home on the track for High Performance Driver’s Education days with the BMWCCA or other club, thanks to the additional radiator (located in the driver ‘s side front wheel well) and increased output fan. The performance is a nice happy medium when compared to an ///M3 and the base 335i; there is more of what enthusiasts prefer in hp and torque without the added abrasiveness or reliability issues that may impact daily driving.

The suspension remains compliant enough for daily driving over the pothole filled roads of the North East while also providing more substantial cornering ability over the stock setup. The suspension seems to push back as hard as you push it, there is still some body roll but it is much decreased compared to a standard factory fresh car. The spring rate is 48% stiffer than the base stock suspension and 34% stiffer than the factory Sport suspension. The spring travel for the front axle is 26 mm and 12mm for the rear, which greatly reduces body roll in combination with the thicker sway bars. The 25 mm drop with this setup also helps alleviate some of the unwanted wheel gap the stock car is known for (10 mm compared to the factory sport suspension). With the runflats there is always going to be some harshness but this suspension does not increase that exponentially so it is a clear win over a coil-over setup. If one was to decide to ditch the runflats and carry an ///M mobility kit in the trunk, the ride would probably be just perfect for most drivers that always check the “sports suspension ” box. With spring rates and travel numbers like above one can not expect it to be couch like comfortable taking bumps but at the same time it is not bone jarring, it is just how we like it: tight.

The one thing missing from this car was a big brake kit. Currently there are no plans for BMW Performance to offer a brake kit on the 335 so the only other performance braking option would be from a third party. The stock brakes are the best in class on the street but like all stock brakes they will show their weakness at the track in the form of brake fade. The one caveat is that as part of the Dynamic Stability Control in all recent BMWs is a function to lessen brake fade by increasing the boost pressure- good to give you a chance to cool things down but not a long term fix.

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

Exterior

After its Life Cycle Impulse (facelift in BMW speak) the 3er sedan gained a more sporty presence which the BMW Performance aero kit and wheels accentuate even more. The Performance front bumper was recently reintroduced to the market thanks to a software update making the removal of the front fog lights not throw one of those irritating error codes. The lower lip is a high gloss carbon fiber that adds down force in addition to looking fantastic. This bumper looks more aggressive/sporty than other factory offerings and with the added carbon fiber it really looks the part as a performance item.

Other exterior parts finished in carbon include the mirror caps and the rear lip spoiler. The mirror caps help change comments about the size and shape of the newer style mirrors from: “nice dumbo ears” to “the carbon mirrors look great!” The rear lip is subtle but effective in terms of looks and reported aerodynamics.

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

The Style 313 wheels are sporty and sized appropriately at 19X9, our one gripe is that they show off the stock calipers and base discs a bit much (once again a big brake kit would be nice!). This open design with thin diameter spokes is not by chance, it is to aid in cooling those stock brakes and pads. These Perfromance wheels are built of low pressure cast and machined aluminum helping keep the weight down to forged levels, 25 lbs. for the 19 “s and a pound less for the inch smaller offering. They are one of our current wheel favorites and will soon grace the 335is.

The not so “pin” stripes flanking both sides of the car set it off from other run-of-the mill E90s. These have definitely grown on us since they were first introduced. Obviously, they are not to everyone’s liking but they sure beat some long named rear trunk badge… so on that note they are a must have for anyone that has outfitted their car appropriately, but the best part is that you do not need to earn “points ” to get your stripes!

BMW Performance 335i with Engine Kit

Interior

The interior is much the same as the BMW Performance 135i we reviewed last year. Nicely laid carbon fiber trim pieces replace the stock wood or aluminum, while Alcantara® adorns the steering wheel and shifter. Stainless pedals round out the interior modifications as in the US we are not worthy of the marvelous seats that EU countries have available because of DOT regulations. We loved the gadget-laden steering wheel our car was equipped with but the real news is its stable mate. This new wheel (pictured) has a flat bottom, and a yellow stripe at the top. It is similar in feel to the high-end wheel with all the high tech electronics (great for track days) just in a more basic form.

The short throw shifter decreases the throw by approximately 25% while improving the feel and engagement of the shifts, it still feels better than the current generation ///M3. The aluminum and Alcantara® knob is smaller than some would like but also fits nicely in the hand and provides added friction for days when driving gloves are required. The interior is both sporty and completely functional, it is not just all eye candy which in our book is the way it should be.

Conclusion

We enthusiasts are always in the market for quality tuning products that help make our cars our own. BMW Performance does just that. With the recent pricing decreases and a standard warranty these parts seem like a no brainer to anyone looking to tune their car. Would we fully equip a car similarly or opt to get a recently launched 2011 335is and add the BMW performance suspension and a few other pieces? That ‘s the real question and one we leave for another day…

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  • chas58

    Nice write up, thanks. The good news is that we can build our own “is” car with the car we already own (if we have an e46 or e90).

  • Chas58- Good point! The other nice thing is you can upgrade a non-turbo car as well, from suspension to exhaust onto intake, there is a full catalog of parts for the full 3er line.

  • Luis

    I love this new steering wheel! It just seems perfect! I hated those stupid lights in the other! Well done BMW! LOVE IT!

  • Henry

    Too bad my car is an E46. The Performance catalog isn’t that big when compared to the one for the E90.

  • ak

    any feedback on performance pack ?

  • maxnix

    Not sure exactly to which springs this article refers. The 335is seems to have the same springs as any E92 335i with M Sport.