At first glance, I was the most impractical choice for test driving the 2010 BMW 335i coupe. The four-seater is sporty, small and only has two doors with a small backseat. I'm slow and large (I'm nine months pregnant as I write this) with two small children in large convertible child-safety seats. But having me test drive this car was a genius move on the MotherProof.com's Chief Mama Kristin Varela's part. I got to have one last sports-car "hurrah" before my third child comes and I can no longer fit my family into a car this small, and if I can make this car work for me, you know it would be a dream for someone without all of my accoutrements.
As it turns out, I did make this car work for the week I drove it, but I wouldn't say this is a family car. This is the car you want in addition to your SUV or minivan. This car reminds you that driving is a sport that's meant to be a thrill. When you make your millions, pick up one of these as your accessory car and enjoy yourself. If, however, you're like me and in the family way, you can make this car work, but it's a bit of a struggle at times.
The 335i's twin-turbo inline-six-cylinder engine produces 300 horsepower that packs a punch, especially on this little vehicle. I found myself doing 100 mph without even noticing; even my husband questioned my sensibility, noting that I'm nine months pregnant, but I couldn't help myself. A standard six-speed manual transmission only added to the driving fun in this rear-wheel-drive car. A six-speed automatic transmission is optional.
At the end of the week I was sad to let the four-seater go, especially after I got back into my family-mobile. Driving my minivan again practically reduced me to tears.
Ooh, she's a pretty car. My husband crooned, my mother-in-law fell in love with it at first sight, my neighbor coveted it and I had a perma-grin for a week because of the 335i. A good girlfriend told me that you couldn't even see my baby bump when I was in the driver's seat, so I just looked like a hottie in a hot car.
This is one stylish coupe. My test car's beautiful Blue Water Metallic color was gorgeous. There are 12 metallic paint jobs you can choose from for the 335i; each costs about $550 extra, but I'd say they're all worth that premium over the standard paint colors. How can you resist colors like Tasman Green Metallic, Monaco Blue Metallic and Mojave Metallic?
Aside from the fresh array of exterior color choices, the 335i is small in stature - it's a coupe after all - and big on looks. It has a typically BMW-ish long hood and sits low to the ground as a performance vehicle should. It's so low that even my 19-month-old could climb in on her own, which is a first.
Once my kids were in, even they noticed that this car was decidedly not our minivan. They thought they were cruising around in a racecar, and my son told everyone about his cool ride.
The standard star-spoke 17-inch wheels - you can opt to get 18- or 19-inch wheels should you desire - and dual chrome-plated exhaust tips are the finishing touches that make this car look just as sporty as it drives. My test car had the M Sport Package ($3,350), which gets you 18-inch wheels, rear parking sensors and an aerodynamic kit.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not Really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
Once inside the 335i coupe I realized that this car's beauty is not skin deep; the inside is just as beautiful as the outside. My test car had a sleek, sporty black trim and Cream Beige leather seating ($1,450) that was smooth, soft and simply gorgeous. As part of the M Sport Package, my test car had sport seats that cradled me tightly and kept my body in place when I made this car work the road.
BMW's iDrive system is included as part of the optional navigation system, and you'll have to pony up $2,100 for it. My first experience with iDrive a couple of years ago was not that pleasant. I found it difficult and confusing to operate. I can report that this time around it seems to have been made a bit more user-friendly with more shortcut keys and better functionality. Furthermore, the screen produces brilliant graphics that enhance the navigation experience.
Because the 335i is a coupe I can't say that the backseat was particularly roomy, and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to spend any length of time back there myself. While the Latch connectors were clearly marked, they were so deeply recessed that getting to them took some effort. After some maneuvering I was able to install my children's convertible child-safety seats. Since this is not a car intended directly for pregnant moms of two small children, I'd say that's a coup for this coupe. A rear-facing infant-safety seat would not fit in the backseat unless you wanted to push the front passenger through the windshield. This is a car I'd want in my garage just for me and I'd keep the minivan for toting the kiddies around.
Storage is limited, with only two cupholders hidden in the dash and a couple of small, but efficient compartments on each door and in between the seats. The trunk can't hold much more than a weekly grocery haul and forget about trying to put a regular-sized stroller in there. I overlooked these shortcomings for the week of my test drive, but it would be a problem if it were my everyday car. However, when I was cruising around in this lovely little car with the moonroof open and tunes blasting I almost forgot that there were two car seats and munchkins in the back - until my son started kicking my seatback.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 335i has received scores of Good, the top rating, in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In past years those scores would earn it IIHS' Top Safety Pick award. For 2010, IIHS has added a new roof-strength crash test to its Top Safety Pick requirements. The 335i hasn't undergone this new crash test.
The coupe has standard antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control and active head restraints. It also has front- and side-impact airbags for the front passengers and side curtain airbags for both rows.
Also standard is BMW's Advanced Safety System, which can connect you to the BMW Assist Response Center at anytime with a push of the SOS button located in the car. The center can help with stolen vehicle recovery, mechanical problems and even being locked out of your car. Should you have an accident, a call to the center is placed automatically.
In Diapers: Rear-facing infant seats won't fit and it's a struggle to get convertible car seats installed.
In School: Kids will fit in the backseat, but there's not a lot of legroom.
Teens: This is one car a teen driver should never be allowed to drive. It's just too much fun, which would lead to serious problems.
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