Big­gest engine still favourite

One of the big mo­tor­ing de­bates of the year is which new BMW3-Se­ries is best: the new-age small-ca­pac­ity four-cylin­der ver­sion, or the sin­gle six-cylin­der model in the fleet. Rob Maet­zig ar­gues for the big engine.

Kapi-Mana News - - MOTORING -

It used to be that the BMW 3- Se­ries cars were syn­ony­mous with in-line six-cylin­der petrol en­gines. Granted, when the orig­i­nal 3-se­ries, the E21, was in­tro­duced in the mid-1970s the model was ex­clu­sively pow­ered by four­cylin­der en­gines of var­i­ous cu­bic ca­pac­i­ties, but that didn’t last long.

By 1977 new vari­ants were get­ting big­ger straight-six en­gines un­der their bon­nets, and it was those mod­els that sparked a surge in de­mand for what is now the world’s most pop­u­lar BMW.

But things do change, and the new sixth- gen­er­a­tion 3- Se­ries, launched in New Zealand a few months ago, is again more of a four-cylin­der car than a six.

That’s be­cause BMW has be­come very much a part of the Euro­pean trend to of­fer a prod­uct with en­gines that might be small in ca­pac­ity, but big in power thanks to twin-tur­bocharg­ing and su­per­charg­ing.

These en­gines re­ally work, too. For ex­am­ple the 2.0-litre four that pow­ers the new 328i (yes, I know the num­bers in the badg­ing are strange) can ac­cel­er­ate the car to 100 kilo­me­tres per hour in just over six sec­onds, yet boasts an av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion of 6.3 litres per 100km.

And con­sider the dieselpow­ered 320d. It is pow­ered by an im­proved ver­sion of the engine un­der the bon­net of the pre­vi­ous 3-Se­ries which of­fers bet­ter fuel con­sump­tion but no loss of power. Its sprint time to the open road speed limit is 7.6 sec­onds, and av­er­age con­sump­tion is just 4.5 litres per 100km.

In each case these BMWs of­fer re­ally good drives, not the least be­cause their lighter engine weights trans­late to su­perbly bal­anced han­dling. Per­son­ally, I’d be very happy to own ei­ther of these two mod­els.

But my favourite re­mains the one model pow­ered by a six­cylin­der engine.

It’s the 335i, which boasts a 3.0- litre di­rect in­jec­tion twin­scroll tur­bocharged engine, which of­fers 225 kilo­watts of power and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, 400 new­ton me­tres of torque from just 1200 rev­o­lu­tions a minute.

That’s suf­fi­cient to get this car to 100 kilo­me­tres per hour in a low 5.5 sec­onds and on to a top speed – if we were al­lowed – of 225 kilo­me­tres per hour.

And it does it so nicely, too. It has a beau­ti­ful ex­haust note when un­der power, and I’ve got to ad­mit that dur­ing a re­cent few days be­hind the wheel of the 335i I spent quite a bit of time pow­er­ing up through the eight-speed au­to­matic’s gears just so I could lis­ten to the gear change.

The thing is that this new 335i is a su­perb car, and the ex­haust note sim­ply adds to it all. The car car­ries many per­for­mance and han­dling-ori­ented fea­tures, and our test ve­hi­cle was also fit­ted with op­tional Sport steer­ing and Adap­tive M sus­pen­sion, all of which com­bined to present a great drive.

A new stan­dard fea­ture is ‘‘driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence con­trol’’. The driver is able to se­lect one of four driv­ing pro­grammes that range from very eco­nom­i­cal to ul­tra-sporty.

This new BMW 3-Se­ries has to rate as one of the most ac­com­plished ve­hi­cles I’ve driven, my favourite the 335i sim­ply be­cause I just loved the power, the torque, and the ex­haust note.

Six of the best: The BMW 335i, the only six-cylin­der model in the new sixth-gen­er­a­tion 3-Se­ries fleet.

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