BMW 335i convertible in France

First impressions of the BMW335i Convertible were of a practical, high performance car for long distance continental touring. They are confirmed by extended ownership.

Comfortable Long Distance Grand Touring Car with High Performance

This review of the BMW335i Convertible is based on two years ownership and a 2,400 mile touring holiday in France. The latter trip mostly avoided autoroutes except for the odd times when appointments had to be kept. The car ran faultlessly throughout and achieved 30 mpg despite a significant amount of time in the mountains of the Ardeche and the Massif Central.

High Performance BMW for Journey's Across Continents

The 306bhp 3litre twin-turbo engine in the 335i is refined but sounds good when pressed. It produces a seriously quick motor car that will match many full blooded sports cars. The overtaking capability was much appreciated in the mountains of France or the wilder parts of Britain.

The steering wheel paddle gear shift was valuable allowing advantage to be taken of very short overtaking opportunities . It is easy to drop 2 or 3 gears and floor the throttle at the same time to get past a slow moving truck on winding mountain roads. In fully automatic mode the six-speed gearbox was totally unobtrusive and combined with the refined engine to make for relaxed cruising.

Convertible Comfort and Refined Touring

Driving in the South of France in late June made it clear why convertible cars are more popular in Northern Europe than the South. The sun is simply too hot even with a hat and sun block. It gets very uncomfortable so hood up with the air conditioning on is preferred much of the time.

For short spells when the weather was merely warm, hood down motoring was a pleasure to be enjoyed. With the wind deflector up it was comfortable with little buffeting at 50mph (80kph) or faster for short periods. It is very pleasant to potter along the byways and be able to hear the birds and smell the fresh air.

The ride of the 3-Series convertible is firm especially with the 19in wheels even on standard suspension. At times it can crash hard into potholes so for most drivers the sport suspension should be avoided. Money could also be saved on the large wheels. However even with the roof down there is minimal scuttle shake and the car feels solid.

The complex metal folding roof does have rattles despite the conscientious efforts of the dealer. At times there was wind noise possibly from the door seal at the front of the passenger door. It was only noticeable at around 80mph (130kmh) with a strong wind at a very specific angle to the car.

Practical GT Car for Long Distance Travel

The 3-Series Convertible is a full four seater but rear passengers six feet tall or more would only want to travel short distances. Hood down with four passengers there is no wind deflector and speed needs to be kept down to 50mph (80kph) or so to minimise the buffeting.

The boot is not large but with the hood up it is the same size as the coupe and big enough for an extended touring holiday for two adults. By careful packing in soft bags they could get by with the halved boot space available with the hood. In practice it is not too much of an issue as for most serious travelling the roof will be up and full boot space available - hood down luggage can go on the back seat under the wind deflector and be almost out of sight.

The rear window is not as large as it looks from outside and is a bit of letterbox especially on cold mornings when there is ice or condensation. The top two rows of what appears to be the screen heater are actually the aerial and do not clear the window reducing the view even further. The shape of the bonnet also means that the width of the car is not clear and it is very easy to kerb the front wheels on low obstructions.

The Business satellite navigation generally works well although at times it takes its traffic information feed too seriously. It has suggested unnecessarily extreme diversions that would have added considerably to a journey.

Services are when needed (in practice around 18,000 miles) and for the car under review that is every two years except for routine replacements Maintenance costs in the first three years have been very modest for a high performance car.

3-Series Convertible Has Some Faults

There are a couple of minor irritations. Very occasionally on some surfaces there is resonance causing "boom" in the closed cabin which can be uncomfortable

When opening the doors in the wet water drips on to the front seats occupants due to the roof being narrower than the doors. Water also drips off the boot lid into the boot (trunk).

BMW Convertible is an Excellent Balance of Performance, Refinement and Versatility

The BMW 335i Convertible has confirmed earlier impressions that it is a sensible and practical GT car for long distance touring. For such purposes it is a two, plus an occasional two, seater rather than full four-seater as the boot is not large and the wind deflector obstructs the rear seats.

For everyday purposes, it is as practical as the coupe with the bonus that on fine days the roof can be removed.

It would be interesting to compare the refinement of the petrol engined 335i with the diesel 330d. In practical terms the performance of the diesel is comparable but with fuel consumption of 46 mpg.


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