The natural comparison point to the 135is Convertible I just looked at is, of course, the same year 335is. Indeed, since the two share a fair amount of architecture and a similar recipe, on paper it’s a bit strange that they were offered at the same time. But though the 335is and 135is looked similar, there were actually quite a few differences between the two packages.
For starters, though they were both turbocharged and rated at 320 horsepower, the 335is package retained the N54 motor to do so. I’ve never quite understood BMW’s logic on this one, but clearly there was something about the N54’s power delivery that they felt was superior to the N55 single-turbo. The reserved the higher-output N54s in late production for the 1M (335 horsepower), the Z4 sDrive3.5is (335 horsepower) and the 335is (320 horsepower). The N54B30TO also got a 7 second overboost of 40 lb.ft of torque on top of the 332 that was rated in this car as stock. As I described in the 135i post, the easiest identifier for these cars was the wheels, and on the 335is you got massive yet delicate Style 313 M Double Spoke wheels, 8″ in front and 9″ in rear, with more aggressive offsets than the E8x got. Hunkered down on M-Sport suspension, the 335is also got a unique M aerodynamic body kit, and the transmission was borrowed from the M3, along with additional cooling for the engine. They carried a less restrictive exhaust system. Coupes went so hardcore that, like the 135i, they dropped the foglight option. The convertible variant was apparently judged to be a little less track-ready, as so like today’s Le Mans Blue Metallic example, you could retain the foglights:
As popularity of the BMW 3-series doesn’t seem to be waning much even with the
death renaming of the 2-door variant, finding a slick coupe to set up apart from the BMW crowd can be difficult. Outside of the obvious M3 choice, the ZHP models like the one Craig wrote up on Friday are certainly highly prized and priced. When it came to the E46’s replacement, there was no ZHP package offered – bummer. But, late in the run BMW did roll out a very special package with an even more storied connection to the 3er. In 2011, BMW reintroduced the “is” moniker to the top-notch 335 2-door. The new 335is differed from the regular production run in many ways. Replacing the N55 motor was the trusty N54, just like in the 1M. BMW remapped the engine to deliver 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque channeled through a short-shift 6-speed gearbox or you could opt for the dual-clutch DCT 7-speed from the M3 for repeatable 5.0 second runs to 60. Because it was turbocharged, you also have a 7-second overboost function that gives you another 40 lb.ft in passing situations (or, to show off). The 335is helped to mitigate this additional power with a revised cooling system and heavier-duty motor mounts. The additional cooling meant no fog lights for the coupe, though oddly they could be had on the convertible 335is. Typical M adornments outside meant revised front and rear bumper covers, and the 335is wore unique Style 313 forged wheels measuring a substantial 19×8 in front and 19×9 out back. There were also discrete 335is badges under the side indicators to let drivers beside you know you were in some obscure BMW model besides a M3:
Like this past weekend’s 135i, a potential alternative to the M3 that I’ve considered quite a few times is the 335i. Upping the ante a notch, in 2011 BMW introduced the 335is; ostensibly, the spiritual successor to the ZHP package that the E46 had in the 330i. As they had with the 1M, BMW kept the N54 twin-turbo motor in the 335is instead of the usual N55 single turbo that was in the 135i and 335i. Tuned up to a reported 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque, the N54-equipped 335is also enjoyed a revised short-shift 6-speed gearbox and M-Sport styling outside, bringing it closer visually to the M3 – along with unique split 5-spoke wheels. While the 335is wasn’t much of a match for the high-revving V8 of the M3, in real world conditions it wasn’t much slower – and notably, with a healthy bump in torque over the S54, the 335is matched or bettered the reported E46 M3 acceleration numbers. Having just driven an E46 M3 this past weekend, the soundtrack is great but there’s a notable lack of grunt under 3,000 RPM – certainly to be expected, but when I get into even my considerably less powerful Passat, the fun of the turbo engagement at lower revolutions to provide a healthy kick in the pants – even at partial throttle – is something it’s hard to get out of a normally aspirated car without huge displacement. On top of a bit of extra grunt and some go-faster body kit, this particular 335is was optioned in one of the better blues BMW has offered in recent generations; LeMans Blue Metallic: