BMW is directly taking on the Euro-tuner crowd and giving a nod to weekend racers with a new track-ready 2011 BMW 335is model set to arrive to dealerships later this spring.
The automaker admits that a number of tuners have grown fond of the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter in-line six-cylinder engine in the BMW 335i, so the automaker is moving in on their market with a model that pairs higher boost and more horsepower and torque with a long list of enhancements from the company’s M Sport drawer, plus some exclusives we haven’t seen before.
And perhaps most importantly for some more closely watching their budget, the 335is has a host of ‘official’ tuner improvements that won’t void the factory warranty.
TheCarConnection.com was allowed a special preview drive of the 2011 BMW 335is at Portugal’s famous Estoril track, though we weren’t permitted to take these pre-production, North American-spec vehicles on the surrounding roads and can’t comment exactly on how the powertrain, suspension, and equipment changes stack up for road duty.
One-upping the tuners, and upping the boost
Straight off, BMW is bringing something to the 335i that the tuners won’t deliver: It’s the first 3-Series model for the U.S. to offer the excellent, quick-shifting seven-speed Double Clutch Transmission (DCT) with Launch control. A six-speed manual is standard, with the DCT optional.
While the rest of the 2011 335i Coupes and Convertibles both get BMW’s new N55 twin-scroll, single-turbo version of the 3.0-liter six, making the same 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, the new 335is gets a boosted version of the existing twin-turbo N54 engine, making 320 hp and 332 pound-feet. It gets even better; the engine management allows an overboost window of up to seven seconds at full throttle for quick bursts during passing or, for instance, in racetrack straightaways; during that time, the engine churns to 370 pound-feet. BMW says that the 335is will be able to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds with the DCT.
Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about the new 335is is the engine note; thanks to a sports exhaust system it’s much more vocal at low revs than that of the standard 335i models and manages to ‘sing’ more at the higher revs in the way that BMW’s normally aspirated sixes otherwise do.