The Cars.com editorial staff got to check out dozens of upcoming models at a rally in suburban Chicago on Friday. There was a ton to cover, from semi-exotics like the Jaguar XKR to the least expensive compacts on the market, like the Hyundai Accent. There was little doubt, though, that two of the models we were most interested in were the new BMW 335i, with its twin-turbo six-cylinder engine, and the redesigned Infiniti G35. Now, for a true comparison these both should be sedans, but only the 335i coupe was on hand. David Thomas and Mike Hanley had to make do as they ran the two through their paces.
There’s nothing you can find fault with in the BMW. The engine acts so much like a standard six — or even a V-8 — that it’s hard to believe there’s one turbocharger in there, let alone two, and unlike a lot of high-powered vehicles the engine noise isn’t obnoxious. In fact, I could have stood a bit more. Shifting was effortless and the handling near perfect. Umm … I guess I’m saying I liked it.
MH: I was also impressed with BMW’s new twin-turbo inline-six. The engine makes smooth, even power all the way up the tachometer and doesn’t feel like a turbocharged engine in the least; I never even heard the turbos during my drive. The coupe’s steering effort is a bit light for a 3 Series — I didn’t mind this one bit, but I suspect diehard BMW fans might take issue. Despite the lower effort, it’s no less responsive. A small annoyance: The 335i’s stereo readout disappears if you’re wearing polarized sunglasses.
The G35, on the other hand, disappointed me. While the interior was much improved and the new center stack is terrific, I couldn’t stand the six-speed manual. While the BMW felt natural, the G35 reacted with snarls and the clutch reverberated with a crunch, like it was shifting through a sandbox. It pushed out a lot of power — it produces 306 hp, compared to 300 in the BMW, but the 335i also produces 300 pounds-feet of torque versus the 268 in the G35 — and got up to speed quickly. It also, though, was harder to control than the BMW and required too much of my attention to enjoy.
MH: Unlike Dave, I found the G35 Sport to be an immensely fun and engaging sedan. The G35’s 3.5-liter V-6 isn’t as smooth as the BMW’s engine, but it’s still a strong performer and was teamed with a precise, short-throw six-speed manual. While the 335i’s six-speed manual is a smooth-shifting unit, I didn’t appreciate its long-ish throws. The G35’s more luxurious interior now stacks up better with the 3 Series, and Sport models include cool features like adjustable side bolsters for the driver’s seat, which the 335i can also have.
There’s no question my money is on the BMW. Even though the G35 is a better value— pricing hasn’t been announced yet but we’re guessing it will be similar to the 2006 model, which starts at $31,200 versus the BMW 335i coupe’s starting figure of $40,600 — I’d want the BMW to live with every day, and especially on the weekends.
While driving the G35, I kept thinking to myself how similar it feels to the 335i. I appreciate the BMW’s heritage, but even if pricing for the G35 jumps up to $33,000, which would be a large increase, the premium for the sedan version of the 335i would still be almost $6,000. I don’t think heritage is worth that much.