There is a long and not-so-illustrious historical record of people who thrive on the counterintuitive – the sort of fools who can look you dead in the eye and explain to you that if you jump one nano-second before the falling elevator hits the deck then you’ll survive unscathed. Or that if you were in the middle of the Sahara and were asked what you’d rather drink: a nice hot cup of tea or a can of Coke, you’d be wiser to take the tea since it would cool you down more.
You know the type, they’d rather believe in ghosts than the empirically proven qualities of reflective surfaces.
So, if you were to be told that the car you see in these pictures is, in many ways, a better choice than the epic 335d M Sport Xdrive, you might legitimately assume that your interlocutor had joined the tinfoil-helmet-wearing-daddy-longlegs-are-the-most-poisonous-spider cohort. Here’s the funny thing though… you’d be wrong.
Received wisdom has dictated that diesel is the sensible choice for some time now. Lower emissions, more efficiency, greater torque and all the rest of it. But that is about to change.
In fact they’ve been quietly sending half of London to the pulmonary ward for the last 20 years and people are getting tired of it. What this means for you is higher taxation and stink eye at the school gates from the more enlightened (read ‘annoying’) parents.
That taxation is going to take three forms. Firstly the inevitable hike on fuel prices as the treasury attempts to mitigate what economists call the negative externality of pollution. Similarly with road tax but most importantly with company car tax. Put simply it is a given that sooner or later the emissions bandings that govern how much you pay will be reconfigured to hammer diesel drivers. And let’s face it, if you are driving a car like the 335d then this is the sort of thing that might concern you.
Sure, it’s 3 litre turbocharged 6 cylinder engine might not have the M3-challenging pace and low end welly of the diesel but it has something that no chugger can ever replicate – refinement and a frankly lovely engine note. In sport mode, it pops, gurgles and whines in a wonderfully guttural way. Sure, it’s not tuning-house bonkers but it does sound like a powerful car. And if you’re driving anything over two and half litres, that’s important because, after all, you’re paying for it.
It’s surprisingly quick at 5.1 seconds on the sprint to 60 but there’s a lightness, a feeling that there’s more. And indeed there is…because it’s after 60mph that this 321bhp engine really starts to find itself through the wonderful 8-speed automatic box.
Make no mistake, this is a great touring car and it is on faster roads and motorways where it munches up the miles with composure.
Gearbox-wise, in the higher performance settings gear changes are quick and the drive train is brisk with being urgent. Rear wheel drive and some assured suspension configuration brings a definite ‘driver’s car’ feel to proceedings when the back end steps out momentarily under Dynamic Traction Control. Sure, it’s not mental, but would you want it to be?
Inside, everything that you’ve come to expect from a modern BMW is there with cutting edge but dignified trim finishes, organised instrumentation and one of the best user interfaces around. Cabin noise is just so and comfort levels are high even under the beefier performance settings.