Is now the time to buy a 2007-'12 BMW 335i?

Photograph Courtesy BMW

The E92-chassis BMW M3 is simply an amazing automobile. Its quad-cam V8 produces 420 horsepower, enough to deliver 12-second quarter-mile times. It can run with the most iconic muscle cars of the ’60s. When this M3 debuted for 2008, the bar for sports coupes wasn’t just raised, it was thrown out of the stadium. 

Small bit of reality, though: Fuel economy can best be called weak by modern standards. The EPA says to expect 14 mpg in town and 20 mpg on the highway, giving the car a combined mileage score of just 16. The 2008 Chevy Suburban received the exact same rating–and, unlike the BMW, doesn’t require premium fuel.

The sensible alternative to that M3? How about a 2007-’12 BMW 335i? Its 21 combined mpg rating is at least respectable, and early examples can now be found for about $10,000–even less in some cases. 

While the 335i didn’t receive a V8, its turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six still produced 300 horsepower and 300 ft.-lbs. of torque. Max torque, by the way, was available from 1400 to 5600 rpm, “a somewhat diesel-like characteristic,” BMW’s own press materials quipped. (They were correct.)

In the quarter-mile, the 335i could still rip off respectable mid-13-second times. Around the track, our own testing found it to be only about 2 ticks slower than the M3 on a 48-second course. 

The 335i came in three distinct flavors: coupe, convertible and sedan. The big update came for 2011 as the single-turbo, N55-spec engine replaced the twin-turbo N54 engine. Horsepower and torque ratings didn’t change, but fuel economy and emissions improved. BMW also introduced the 335is that year. It retained the old twin-turbo engine, but tweaks bumped it to 320 horsepower and 332 ft.-lbs. of torque. Perhaps the most exciting part of the release: “A special overboost function permits a temporary torque increase to 370 lb.-ft.”


Care & Feeding

Active Autowerke specializes in BMWs of all kinds, and the shop’s Karl Hugh shared some 335i tips.

The biggest problem with these cars is their high-pressure fuel pump. It was a huge epidemic for a few years: The fuel injectors would go south, sometimes along with ignition coils. Some of the early cars had output transistor problems, too, causing misfires that couldn’t be fixed unless the DME was replaced or repaired. The early cars came with a Siemens MSD 80 DME, but BMW fixed the issue around March 2008 by switching to an MSD 81 DME.

Replace the spark plugs at 20,000-to-25,000-mile intervals. If you don’t, the electrodes wear off and the gaps get too wide. The DME then tries to up the spark and ends up burning out the ignition coils and DME output transistors. Save yourself a lot of trouble with this cheap maintenance procedure.

Keep the air filters clean. Dirty filters will quickly wipe out the turbochargers. Clean oil is another must.

Be on the lookout for engines that may be tired from excessive blow-by and low compression. Turbochargers worn out from over-boosting are also of concern. Coked-up oil in the turbocharger is another red flag, whether it’s due to poor cool-down or dirty oil from prolonged oil change intervals. Replacing turbochargers typically takes 8 to 10 hours, since you have to remove the entire subframe to gain access to them.

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Rennie2002tii New Reader
8/31/22 11:48 a.m.

I Personally own a 2011 with the N55. It's agreat all around daily driver and track capable as well. These cars respond well to aftermarket mods. A Down pipe ,charge pipe and canned tune will get you an additional 50+ horsepower, for less than a grand. 

 They do get the usuall BMW oil leaks ie:Oil filter housing gasket,Valve cover gasket,Oil pan gasket. And it will probably need a water pumpand thermostat at about 80 to100k. If it's an auto. plan on a full trans. service in that same mileage. Once these things are done you'll have aboy 100k of trouble free driving. 

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