By Casey Williams
If you felt a little lighter this week, it was only because I slowed the earth’s rotation ever so slightly with the 2009 BMW 335d. It followed a VW Jetta TDI in my driveway, but there is no comparison. As the Jetta is a competently competent diesel-powered family sedan, the 335d is an all-out muscle car, disguised as your father’s 3-Series. Keep it away from him – he can’t handle it.
People who drove diesels in the ‘80s will think you’re a total nut case for paying a premium for a BMW sport sedan with an oil burner. Those people have not driven a modern twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six diesel that generates 265 horsepower and 425 lb.-ft. of torque. My ’89 Corvette, which was one of the fastest cars on earth 20 years ago, wouldn’t even know what to do with that much power. In fact, BMW only offers a 6-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters because it doesn’t have a proper manual that will fit in the 3-Series and handle that much torque. Top speed is governor limited to 128 mph, reached after the 335d tosses off a 0-60 mph run in just 5.7 seconds.
Giggly force is only one part of the 335d’s performance plan. It comes with the moves of a cross-country-running ballerina. A tight-handling suspension turns the 335d into a sports car, but absorbs bumps like a proper sedan. Going through corners, a flick of one’s wrists is all that’s required to toss the car about. Of course, it comes with all of the electronics: Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, and automatic brake force modulation.
Like an infant 7-Series inside, right down to the slabs of dash wood, iDRIVE controller (a screen- and joywheel-based system for the navigation, audio, and climate controls), and sport puff heated leather seats. Nobody makes a better-feeling leather-wrapped steering wheel than BMW. Sirius Satellite Radio, CD player, euphoric audio speakers, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and multi-function buttons on the steering wheel tap the senses and need to communicate. Safety is enhanced with dual front, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, and whiplash-reducing front headrests.
To make the diesel palatable in all 50 states, engineers devised a clever system that injects urea into the exhaust catalysts, thus reducing pollution. About every 10,000 miles, depending on how much joy you extract from the car, the 5.4-gallon tank (hidden behind a small door in the driver-side rear bumper) must be refilled. A dash sensor lets you know when the tank is half empty. In case you think you’ll ignore that light like you probably do the Check Engine light, you can’t. The computer will not let you re-start the car with an empty canister.
Last Friday, I stormed home from work, changed clothes, jumped in the car with my partner, and picked up a couple of friends for a birthday celebration. Getting in and out of the rear cabin takes some determination, but once there, two people ride comfortably. The car looked chic, saved some coin at the pump, and moved out like RuPaul’s drag race.
I suspect I actually didn’t alter the earth’s rotational speed that much, but the 335d does have a way of feeling like it defies gravity. Stomp the throttle, hear the diesel rattle to a fury, and sink into the seats as the car heaves you and your loved one a long way down the road at a rapidly-accelerating pace. If this isn’t diesel nirvana, I can’t wait to find out what is. The deep cackles I can’t help belting out sound just right coming from sinister diesel-powered road rocket.
BMW is a gay-friendly company.
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