BMW 335i buyers guide

"The 335i - our car of the year 2021 lets look at buying options."

So if we were asked what the best 3 series model is, our shortlist would certainly include the 335i, and an honorable mention would go to the 335d.

We have decided to award our car of the year to the 335i and have focussed some specific articles on this very special car.

Let's look at what makes the 335i such a special motor, and why there are so many tuning enthusiasts raving about them.

The BMW 3 Series has the honor of being one of the most sold models of the German luxury automaker that has been in service since 1975. It is still loved globally and is a direct competitor to the Mercedes C Class and Audi A4 series of cars.

More than 15 million units of this series have been sold until now which shows the overall appreciation that it has received over the years.

Understanding the 335i Lineup

The 335i was the top of the line performance variant of the vehicle. It is worth noting here that the same body sized and shaped BMW could be obtained in a wide number of variants that ranged from the 318i having a paltry 129 hp to the muscular 335i which was the big brother with the beefier 306 hp engine.

This meant that the 335i had almost twice the horsepower of the entry-level variant which made it exceptionally famous among car enthusiasts.

Before buying a BMW 335i, it is vital to know as much about the major revisions and updates, so we shall look at the years in which the car was offered. In addition to this, you also need to know all the changes that the car underwent during its years of service so you can choose the option that suits you the best, don't assume that more recent is always better, although this is subjective.

So, let’s delve into the details and stats and see all that the BMW 335i had to offer to its customers.

The car was offered in two different line ups which ranged between the following years

  • 2005 to 2008 & 2008 to 2011

The initial success of the 2005 to 2008 model year cars inspired BMW to introduce minor tweaks to the design and thus it was able to offer the BMW 335i model for a total of 6 years. So each major revision had a 3 year run.

335i engine options

Two engines were available, depending on the model year, and both were similarly specified but there were some major differences between them so it helps to know about this as it's the most important difference between the cars.

Although power and performance are the same, the way the power is delivered and the fuel economy/emissions were also improved.

2005 to 2008 335i specs

BMW 335i was a gasoline (petrol) variant of the 3 Series vehicle. The car was initially offered between the years 2005 and 2008 in the automatic and manual transmission options each having 6 gears.

Engine Specifications

The cars had inline straight-six engines with a Twin Turbocharged direct injection setup. The engine displacement on these models was 2979cm3.

Performance Figures

The 335i models in this era had 306 hp which rendered them quick vehicles especially in their class.

Thanks to the 295 lb-ft torque of the automatic transmission, vehicles could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a total of 5.8 seconds which was great especially back in the days.

However, the manual transmission vehicles had even better figures of 5.6 seconds for the 0 to 60 mph mark.

Impressive Acceleration

With a top speed of 155mph, the 335i was not only able to gain fame among fans of luxury vehicles but was also able to gain appreciation among those looking to couple luxury with performance.

Great Fuel Economy

Both manual and automatic transmission vehicles were rear-wheel drive and provided a combined fuel economy of 9.1 liters per 100 kilometers which made them especially attractive.

2008 to 2011 335i revisions and specs

The next variant of the car was presented during the years 2008 to 2011. It was a facelifted version of the previous model.

The most notable difference was the engine now had a single twin scroll turbo instead of the twin turbo. But overall performance remained the same between the model years, although the newer one was slower off the line, it picked up power in the mid range.

335i Performance Figures

These newer models despite having much lesser displacement had 306 hp and 295 lb-ft which were the same as the previous versions of the car.

The 0 to 60 mph times of the automatic and the manual transmission vehicles were the same as the previous models.

However, the xDrive cars were quicker and completed the job in 5.4 seconds due to their all-wheel-drive nature.

335xi Variants Were Also Offered

The car was also offered in the all-wheel-drive 335xi variants in both 6 speed automatic and manual transmission versions.

335i xDrive Configuration

During these model years, the cars were not only offered in 6 speed automatic and manual transmissions but were also presented in the xDrive configuration.

The xDrive vehicles were all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Engine Specifications & tuning options

BMW 335i N54 Engine

The 335i model was particularly famous as it featured the world-famous N54 engine which was a twin-turbocharged straight-six gasoline engine.

It was a successor to the N53 and was introduced in 2006 at the Geneva Motor Show and was instantly loved by aficionados for its great output numbers.

The engine gained so much fame that it remained in production for a decade until 2016 when the company finally decided to discontinue its production.

It is worth mentioning that the phasing out of the N54 had already begun in 2009 when the N55, its successor, was launched.

BMW 335i N55 Engine

The newer N55 engine was the successor to the N54. Similar to the previous version, it was also a straight-six turbocharged gasoline engine that was introduced by BMW in 2009 and is still in production.

The block and head of the N55 were also made up of Aluminum and thus the N55 was in many ways similar to the N54. The valve train was DOHC with VVT and VVL.

Differences Between N54 & N55

As mentioned above, the two engines were similar in many aspects however the most significant difference was that the later N55 model had a single turbocharger (Borg Warner B03 Twin Scroll), unlike the N54 which was twin-turbocharged.

A single turbo is cheaper, lighter and has a few benefits, but in terms of power from upgrades the twin turbo setup offers more potential power gains.

Which engine is better N54 or N55?

The twin turbo provided boost from lower down, so the single turbo N55 was offering more mid to top end and that is actually where you want the power.

The twin turbo is arguably more tunable than the N55 as two turbos will spool up more quickly and provide more shove at the top end than any single turbo even if it's a twin scroll. Read our guide to twin scroll turbos to see the benefits of these.

The N54 has also been around longer so there are more parts available for it, but the N55 is fast catching up and by the time you read this I'm sure things will have evened out.

Fuel Injector & Valvetronic

In addition to this, the fuel injector type was changed and Valvetronic was introduced in the newer engine.

Previously in the N54, piezo type fuel injectors were used whereas the N55 made use of solenoid type injectors.

The main advantage of shifting to the newer technology was that the outgoing injectors were more expensive and the overall benefit of using them over the solenoid type injectors was not significant, and the newer type is regarded as more reliable and better suited to Euro emissions regulations.

The N55's solenoid injectors are also more reliable and have been less prone to problems than the N54's piezo's.

Advantages Of Shifting To Valvetronic

The installation of Valvetronic showed significant improvement in throttle response, exhaust emissions and also made the newer engine almost 15 to 20% fuel-efficient than the outgoing model. (We know that TorqueCars readers are not that worried about fuel economy or enviromental impact, but this is important to many people.)

This made the N55 a big hit among car lovers, but many purists prefer the N54, and indeed there are more performance parts around for the earlier model, but it's only a matter of time before the N55 catches up.

The N55 was only offered in the BMW 335i models after 2010.

335i Engine Displacement, Specs & Material

The N54 had a 3 liter displacement. The block and head’s material was Aluminum unlike the magnesium alloy material used in the block and head of the N53.

BMW's aim was to build a strong engine, and indeed they managed this, and few engines can handle so much power on stock internals.

The N55 was based on the BMW M54 engine, which was made of the same material. The valve train of the engine was DOHC with VVT.

The N54 engine was offered in a wide array of power options and was thus offered in different BMW Series vehicles. The E9x series, including the BMW 335i, had the 311 bhp variant for the model years 2006 to 2010.

Changes Between the Different 335i Model Years

If you are looking forward to buying a BMW 335i, you need to know all the changes that became a part of the vehicle’s design and engine over the years.

Most Important 335i Change Between 2005 and 2011

The most significant difference between these model years and the previous ones was that they were made Euro 5 compliant.

The new standards came into implementation in 2009 and thus BMW was forced to bring the changes in its engines to make its vehicles operable in the regions following strict compliance with these new international standards.

Cosmetic Changes

Aside from the engine and performance changes mentioned above, the E9x series' timeless design underwent several cosmetic changes. Among them were the following:

Exterior Changes

The facelifted models of the car offered a wide array of changes on the outside.

These included the upgraded kidney grills that were wider than the previous ones. In addition to this, the newer grills were more rounded from the interior side.

335i Bumper Design Was Changed

The newly designed front and rear bumpers, as well as the newly designed front and rear lights, gave the vehicle an entirely new appearance. The front bumper received a new cut, affectionately known as the "smiling cut" among fans.

This cut was linear in the previous version of the vehicle, but with the arched shape, it looked more modern especially when compared with the earlier rear (see below).

The Back Side Was Also Refreshed

The most noticeable change on the backside of the car was a reduction in the size of the reversing light. The overall rear design was a gradual evolution rather than a sudden revolution, but why change something that works really well and that people liked.

Changes In the Car’s Interior

Although not as noticeable, changes were also present inside the vehicle, such as the inclusion of a refined navigation system in later models, as well as the gear selector.

Gear Shifter Got Updated

In the newer cars, the gear shifter was similar to the joystick that had previously existed in the bigger 5 series models. These new aesthetics replaced the linear style.

Introduction Of Voice Command For iDrive

BMW’s famous iDrive system also got voice controls which were very well received in the market and in addition to this, the addition of shortcuts to the menu was also a well-received step.

I've never really got on with Voice control in cars, perhaps it's my voice, but they are too prone to mishear you, and instead of adjusting the radio you've ended up calling contact!

Which 335i would we choose?

There are many plus points for each model so it depends on your budget. The early ones are of great value and the range of mods and upgrades are better, and many purists prefer the N54 engine purely from a tuning point of view.

So my personal choice would be a low mileage 2005-2008 version, and I would be looking to upgrade the engine and extract more power, but my target would be around 400hp - a nice easy goal on these.

There is an argument for a higher mileage 2009 version, with the N55 engine which is currently the same price as a low mileage older model. If you just wanted a great car out of the gate then this is the way to go. But if you are looking to mod and uprate the car the older ones are TorqueCars personal preference.

The 2008 revision added many nice touches, and it has the overall feel of a more polished refined car.  If you are looking for a good solid reliable car then this is the one to go for in our opinion.

It also offers tuning potential, and in fairness, the decision comes down to the drive and overall experience, as both are stunning cars.

There are many tuning options for both which we will discuss in our 335i tuning article.

335i Weak spots/ Common Problems & Things To Look Out For

Like every other car, the BMW 335i came with a few weak spots. So, let’s take a look at the common problems that you need to avoid while purchasing your 335i.

We don't want to imply these are unreliable, because they are not, but if you know what the weak spots are you'll be able to look out for them.

As with any high performance car, you really need to look after them and if you do they will look after you.

335i High-Pressure Fuel Pump Problems

The High-Pressure Fuel Pump was the most common problem of the car with the N54 engine.

The automaker accepted the fault and recalled over 150,000 vehicles. However, it should still be on your list of items to look out for.

335i Oil Leak Problems

Oil leaks from the valve cover and gasket are also a common problem in these cars.

The valve cover is made up of plastic which can easily crack and thus the leakage is understandable and almost seemed to be a built-in obsolescence design feature! A major problem is that the issue doesn’t appear with any fault codes or any kind of warning so you really do need to keep an eye and when you top the oil up give this area a quick inspection.

A burning oil smell from the engine bay can be one early indication in this regard and drops of oil on the driveway should always be investigated further.

335i Wastegate Rattle Problem

Another common issue in this car is related to the wastegate and is typified as a rattle.

It’s a metallic rattling sound that is observed while the car is idling and when it is revved up to 5000 RPM and then allowed to come back down to settle at idle.

This wastegate noise problem is usually caused by the rattling of the wastegate actuator rods.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your BMW engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss N54 tuning options in more detail with our N54 owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased BMW tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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BMW 335i - 2021 COTY

We gave the BMW 335i our coveted car of the year award, read more about this awesome car and see why 335i Tuning Guide

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