2010 BMW 335i Convertible Road Test and Review
The BMW 3 Series has been one of the most quintessential cars for many years when it comes to balancing performance and luxury, but this iconic luxury compact is also one of the best when it comes to offering a seemingly endless choice of styles and options. With a total of 18 different models spread across four different body styles, the 2010 BMW 3 Series can fill a wide variety of preferences from the base 328i sedan up to the monstrous M3 coupe. Directly in between these two models is the 2010 BMW 335i Convertible, which BMW recently provided for this road test in the hardtop convertible guise.
Competing against cars like the Audi A5 Cabriolet, Infiniti G37 Convertible and Lexus IS 350C, the BMW 335i Convertible (also referred to as the E93) has a starting MSRP of $50,700. In true BMW form, this 335i came with a handful of Ã la carte options raising the as-tested price to $54,025 including the destination charge. Despite the fact that this total price is slightly higher than most of the competition, the BMW 3 Series still stands at the top of its segment thanks to a ride that can offer both nimble handling for track duties and comfortable cruising for leisurely highway jaunts. Regardless of whether the top is up or down, the 2010 BMW 335i Convertible is easily one of the most exhilarating cars on the road.
2010 BMW 335i Convertible Exterior
Although a new design should be ready for 2012, the styling of the fifth-generation 3 Series builds on the legacy of its predecessors while the convertible adds an exciting, open-air driving experience. The three-piece aluminum retractable hardtop may give the 335i Convertible more of a modern look, but there are still many classic 3 Series elements present on the car such as the twin kidney grille and the Hofmeister kink in the rear quarter windows. Using a hardtop instead of a cloth soft top allows the 335i Convertible to retain the sporty styling of the 335i Coupe by keeping the sleek roofline, long, sculpted hood and sharp side body creases. Like other current BMW models, one of the most stylish aspects of the 335i is the 'Angel Eye' halos around the headlights that double as daytime running lights and parking lights.
With the top up, the 3 Series convertible is practically indistinguishable from its coupe counterpart, but the 22-second ballet of roof panels collapsing into the trunk quickly transforms the 335i from a sports coupe into a sports cabriolet. The transformation from coupe to convertible and back is probably among the most exciting to watch when it comes to the growing number of hardtop convertibles available on the market. Adding to the styling of the 335i Convertible, this test car was finished off with the optional ($550) Titanium Silver Metallic exterior paint with 19-inch, five-spoke wheels wrapped in Potenza performance tires.
2010 BMW 335i Convertible Interior
From the inside of the car, the duality of 3 Series is evident with the sports car meets luxury car cabin. Drivers looking for a sportier car will appreciate the sport bucket seats, bright Coral Red leather and the large instrument gauges while those looking for more of a luxurious atmosphere will like the rich Burl Walnut accents, soft-touch surfaces and rich, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Getting comfortable in the driver's seat is easy with a myriad of adjustments including power adjustable side and thigh bolster and a nifty power adjustable headrest. With the abundance of buttons and controls inside the 335i, though, at times it seems like some buttons exist for no reason at all such as the HVAC recirculate and CD changer buttons located on the steering wheel. These could have easily been replaced with controls that making using the stereo more intuitive.
The 335i's small stature makes it an iconic performance car, but that doesn't mean passengers will have to sacrifice comfort. Passengers should find plenty of space inside the 335i Convertible, but finding room for luggage and cargo may be a totally different story. As is usually the case with a convertible, the trunk space in the 3 Series quickly diminishes when the top is down; BMW lists the cargo capacity at nine cubic feet which is likely the available space with the top up. There is also a small storage compartment hidden behind the rear seat back and accessible by either folding the rear seat down or through the rear center armrest.
Part of owning a convertible is giving up some rear seat and cargo space, but two things I couldn't get over with the 335i's interior were directly related to the stereo system. The first issue I had with stereo was the wackiness of the control operation that made using the different functions of the stereo quite difficult despite its surprisingly simply layout. More importantly, especially for a convertible, this base system didn't seem to have enough power to make the stereo enjoyable with the top down at highway speeds. For audiophiles, choosing the optional ($875) Harman Kardon surround sound system may be the way to go. Audio sources on this test model included AM/FM/CD in the head unit and an auxiliary jack and USB port in the center console storage compartment.
2010 BMW 335i Convertible Performance & Handling
As the middle trim level for the 2010 3 Series line, the 335i is powered by a smooth and responsive 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six that delivers 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque. While the 335iÂ provides plenty of performance for most drivers, those looking for a little more speed should check out other models availableÂ on theÂ 3 Series ConvertibleÂ including the V-8-powered BMW M3 or the new-for-2011 335is. Thankfully, this test car also came with the standard six-speed manual transmission which included a hill start assist that held the brakes for a few moments before take-offs. Even with an acceleration time from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds, the 2010 BMW 335i Convertible still gets impressive fuel economy with EPA estimates of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
One of the best parts of the 3 Series is that it handles great on a track but it also makes a comfortable and luxurious everyday driver. Whether the car is just motoring around town or being opened up on the highway, the powertrain, steering and suspension are all tuned to give the car a refined ride and handling. The level of refinement is very obvious with the top up with minimal road noise making the cabin seem just as quiet as the coupe.
2010 BMW 335i Convertible Safety
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to crash test the 3 Series Convertible, but it did give the car a five-star rollover rating thanks to the standard rollover protection system. As for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 335i Convertible received 'Good' ratings for frontal- and rear-impact collisions and a 'Marginal' rating for side-impact protection. Standard safety features for all 2010 3 Series Convertible models include four airbags, front occupant active knee protection, four-wheel anti-lock disc brake system with dynamic brake control, dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.
Since the current BMW 3 Series Convertible launched in 2007, the market has grown significantly to include cars like the Audi A5 Cabriolet, Infiniti G37 Convertible and Lexus IS 350C, but BMW still holds a firm grip the segment thanks to its sporty styling, nimble handling and breathtaking performance. Adding to the legacy of the 3 Series, the 2010 335i Convertible offers the sporty styling of a coupe in the unfortunate instances when the top must be in place while driving and the exhilarating open-air enjoyment with the top down. From its retractable hardtop to the twin-turbocharged engine, just about every aspect of the BMW 335i Convertible makes it one of the most fun-to-drive cars for 2010.
BMW North America provided the vehicle this road test review.
Select photos by Jeffrey N. Ross