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Old 19th December 2006, 17:16   #1
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Default BMW returns to Turbocharging!

Source: motoring.co.za - 'Blow it,' says BMW, 'let's go back to turbos!'

'Blow it,' says BMW, 'let's go back to turbos!'

December 14, 2006

By Denis Droppa

Boot the throttle of a BMW 335i you'll hear the very un-Beemer sound of spinning turbos, a soft whine underlying the familiar muted howl of a six-cylinder petrol engine.

Not something we expected to hear given that for the past 20 years the word "turbocharger" has been a rude word to BMW - at least in relation to petrol engines.

While its rivals with RS and AMG badges were getting whopping outputs from supercharged and turbocharged engines, BMW wore it as a badge of honour that it could match them with its unblown 'M' cars (and will continue with the next M3 which will have a non-blown, four-litre V8)

Why the turbo about-face with the new 335i coupé?

So why the turbo about-face with the new 335i coupé? Because technology has allowed it to build an engine that has all the turbo benefits (great performance at all altitudes) without the drawbacks (the infamous turbo lag).

The new three-litre, straight-six uses direct-injection and two small turbos that don't need to overcome a lot of inertia to build boost pressure on the way to maximums of 225kW and 400Nm (the latter from only 1300rpm). The result is a car builds momentum quickly, no matter where the tacho needle is pointing, and displays no laziness in a standing start.

Not that it came as much of a surprise after we'd driven the car earlier this year at its <A href="http://www.motoring.co.za./index.php?fSectionId=754&fArticleId=3370336">[COLOR=#0000ff]world launch in the Austrian Alps[/COLOR] but we couldn't trace any hint of a dead spot when we test drove the new 335i at Reef altitude which - as all petrolheads know - is turbo-lag's favourite hunting ground

Because BMW has used technology that gets rid of a turbo's drawbacks.

What did surprise us was that Bavaria's new bomber is even quicker than BMW says it is. At Pretoria's Gerotek testing grounds, driving the automatic version, we clocked a 0-100km/h time one-tenth better than BMW's claimed 5.5 seconds. Pretty awesome and on the Reef that makes the 335i slightly quicker - we kid you not - than an M3 (though at sea level matters should be more equal).

Apart from the impressive figures, it's the response and driveability of the car that might make that 335i badge as iconic as the M3 and, going back a few years, the 325i Shadowline.

It has all the pace you want, all the time, with kick-*** grunt from a standing start all the way up to its governed 250km/h. Instead of a turbo's characteristic zero-to-hero power spikes there's a linear spread of lusty power that makes it feel more like a big-capacity non-turbo engine - a very lively one. The 335i's impressive tractability is illustrated by it being just three-tenths slower from 60-120km/h than the mighty five-litre M5.

And the new generation auto gearbox that fires the power to the rear wheels is equally deserving of praise. BMW says the new six-speed halves the shift times of regular torque converter automatics and it feels it. In both Normal and more responsive Sports mode the shifts are quick and slick enough to make the manual tip-shift function largely superfluous.

Makes the need for an SMG or dual-clutch box seem unnecessary, too, although BMW is said to be designing one.

Little understeer

The 335i's spirited performance is matched by a great chassis and strong brakes to make it a complete driver's car. Another reason why BMW chose a smaller two-turbo engine over a larger normally aspirated one is to cut down on weight and avoid a nose-heavy car.

The Beemer, as a result, shows little tendency to understeer. The handling's balanced and neutral but there's more than enough juice at the rear wheels to induce hooligan tail-slides if you switch off traction control and show the throttle who's boss.

Firm suspension and low-profile tyres give sharp, body roll-resistant progress through the twists and the steering has that nice, meaty, typically BMW feel - easy to turn without being over-light or lifeless.

The ride's very firm, if perhaps too jiggly on bumpy roads that make the car skip on the rough bits rather than soak them up and cause the steering to buck in your hands. The car definitely prefers smooth tar, partly as a result of its stiff-walled, run-flat tyres. It's not fond of multi-storey parking either; its low belly scrapes over the crests.

Styling-wise, the 335i coupe is a handsome machine without having the stop-you-in-your-tracks looks of an Alfa Brera or Audi TT but neither is it simply a 3 Series sedan minus two doors. The coupe is much lower, sleeker and generally has a bigger lump in its Speedo.

Executive extras

Apart from being an entertaining driving tool the two-door Beemer makes a practical daily conveyance instilled with all the exec comforts expected of its R502 200 price (R488 500 for the manual).

The 335i coupe comes standard with some bells and whistles available only as options in the sedans, for instance power front sports seats, satellite navigation and a high-end sound system, while the cabin can be blinged-up with some coupé-exclusive upholstery and colours.

Pay R21 800 extra for the Exclusive and you'll get extra gadgets such as parking distance control, adaptive headlights, a power glass sunroof and push-button starter.

The 335i's leather-lined cabin is usefully spacious and, though you have to tilt the front seats to get to the rear, it's roomy enough for a pair of adults. Opening the extra-wide doors is never fun in a tight parking space but at least BMW has addressed the other irritation of living with a two-door car - an electric arm feeds the front-seat belts to their target's shoulder. - Star Motoring
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Old 19th December 2006, 19:27   #2
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thats good. i think i had read this sometime ago in autocar uk.
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Old 19th December 2006, 23:06   #3
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Its the most boring car ever made and this is abig thing coming from my mouth considering my all time fav in this segment at one time use to be the 330i coupe..

oh well BMW has officially gone crazi..lets hope there is some new bloody to give this company some brains and yeah a creative outlook..

I will not agree with anyone who says this thing even looks remotely good...
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