For BMW buyers who wish to soak in as much sun as possible this summer without losing the marque’s hallmark performance and handling, the company has an offering to fit the bill to a tee. The German auto maker is no stranger to engineering convertible cars of the highest quality, and after such icons as the 330Ci Cabriolet and the Z4, one might have wondered how such winning packages could be improved upon. However, in BMW AG’s typical perfectionist tradition, they have once again raised the bar with an extremely well engineered and desirable addition; the 335Ci Cabriolet.
Featuring the much vaunted 3.0 litre straight-six motor with Valvetronic(TM) and variable geometry turbine technology, the 335Ci Cabriolet immediately guarantees driving thrills as well as a rewarding open-top experience. The fact that this mill has already scooped some coveted international awards, including the Engine of the Year accolade, serves to underscore BMW’s long-standing reputation for delivering quality and high performance motoring experiences at great value. For the South African market, the motor made its first appearance in the 335Ci Coupe, and has just been launched in the E90 335i (making that car “the most desirable BMW on the road”, according to a reputable local motoring publication). With a power output spec. of 225Kw, the 335Ci Cabriolet dispatches the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.8 seconds, galloping on to a limited top speed of 250km/h. A notable point about the motor is the linear torque delivery. Thanks to the advanced variable geometry turbo charging, the engine pulls cleanly from low revs, piling on pulling power with no discernible turbo lag. The six speed gearbox is a marvel, swapping cogs smoothly via Formula One-style paddles, or in conventional automatic mode, and it features various settings to suit each driving style and mood. Fuel consumption is a miserly (in this category) 9,9 litres per 100km.
Another feature that stands out is the hard top, a first for BMW. It was designed to save weight, while adding to the rigidity of an already stiff body and chassis. Without a doubt, rivals will struggle to emulate the 335Ci’s handling characteristics, which benefit from this. The roof can be operated from within as well as remotely from outside the car, via a button on they key fob (a convenience that is also available for the sound system and windows), and it opens and closes in about 22 seconds. Rear leg and head room, a bugbear of many past cabriolets, is exemplary – as is boot space which, even with the roof down, is sizable, thanks mainly to clever packaging.
At a retail price of R577 000, the 335Ci is not a cheap car. However, given the sheer engineering excellence that goes into it, it seems a reasonable buy compared to many of its competitors. It offers the best of almost everything expected of a modern convertible, including the ability to transform from boulevard cruiser to agile road ripper, taking it all in its stride while returning plausible fuel economy. The 335Ci BMW is the thinking buyer’s cabriolet.