Now THAT a hoot. We're headed for a plane from Philadelphia (yes, we had a cheese steak) to California after two days with at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
With the Bimmers lined up from to the , our helmet in hand, we were off to the sportiest.
Just the sound of the 414-bhp V-8 as you accelerate off the line, chirping tires on the shift to 2nd, is enough to set you off. This is the king, the BMW that makes car guys quiver. A legend. There's also 295 lb-ft of torque and with each tap of the shift lever of the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic (a $2900 option over the 6-speed manual), you can easily feel the potential energy of the M3.
While the M3 (Sedan $56,275, Coupe $59,275) will get to 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds, what we're enjoying is the fierceness with which the M3 swallows up one corner–we're in the Sport mode–then spurts you to the next. The cross-drilled brakes dip the nose a bit as you haul down for the next turn, firm turn-in matches the sense of power and then you are on to the next corner.
Fun? You bet as you rocket from turn to turn...but you never forget how much power is under your right foot. You're quite aware, a bit on edge, which some argue is half the fun, but then...
Into the Coupe ($50,525). Where the V-8 powered M3 has added visual aggression, like larger front scoops, side vents and a rear spoiler, the 335is is slightly more elegant, a touch sleeker.
And with less horsepower–320 bhp–but more torque–330 lb-ft–than the M3, thanks to the 355is twin-turbo 3.0-liter straight-6. Again we chose the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, and were delighted by the kick it brings headed into turn 1. That would be the 0-60 time of 5.0 seconds coming to bear and as we turn in–again using Sport–the 335is proves as balanced and stable as the M3.
It's not the same feeling, things aren't as firm and you're not caging the tiger the M3 could be, but playing out the power in a more comfortable manner. Still fast, the amber traction control winking as you power out of many corners.
As quick as the M3? No, but not that far off and to some of us a more enjoyable drive because you are more relaxed, but then...
And a pleasant one it was when booting the coupe through the esses. Then again it does have 300 of both horsepower and torque, the latter ready and very able from 1200 rpm on up.
I admit having somewhat dismissed the 1 Series, which was originally debuted into a tough dollar-euro crunch and always seemed a bit pricey for what you get. It's still not exactly cheap, the 135i starting at $36,925, but what fun.
We're looking at 0-60 in about 5 seconds popping up through the 7-speed Double Clutch Transmission (no, not included in that earlier price) and it feels that fast, the quick shifts just adding to that impression.
Then into the esses at New Jersey Motorsports Park and the little coupe, like its big brothers, is nicely balanced. Up over the rise to the right and the traction control light flashes as the 135i climbs up then accelerates down, again a nice balance of power to potential.
Again, not the quickest of the trio, but is it the most fun? Could be.
There's an argument here...opinions?