Driven: BMW 335i Cabriolet
by Sam Livingstone    24 Oct 2007
Hidden exterior door handle lights come on at night. Click for larger images
New cabriolet has 3-piece roof
Photos: Eric Gallina, Sam Livingstone, BMW

Driving the car over the course of a week made us value details such as the hidden exterior door handle lights that come on at night when you approach the car, the way that the rear seatback folds forwards to give a large luggage area that can be secured (roof down) with the cabin wind deflector, and the way that the air distributed about the cabin is automatically changed when the roof is down. But we also noticed some inconsistencies of material usage around the secondary controls, ranging from the lovely tactility of the polished aluminum and rubber I-drive controller, through to the slightly lightweight HVAC dials and aluminum IP trim, and finally to the hard black plastic for the HVAC and ICE buttons on the center fascia and steering wheel.

But after a week with the BMW 335i coupe/cabriolet, we had slightly mixed feelings. If everything is relative, then there was certainly a lot to consider with this, the first of the new breed of three-piece retractable hard roof premium mid-size cabriolets. There are so many things that could be relative to the car's multiple personalities. Powerful and composed it's also whisper quiet (the raspy twin-turbo six cylinder exhaust note notwithstanding) with the roof up. And then, at the push of a simple button, the car can transform into an invigorating wind-in-your-hair convertible for an altogether different experience. This does come at the price of stowage in the trunk, however. With the roof in place the volume beneath the trunk lid is adequate for a car of its dimensions, but with the roof in the down position there is only room for two small bags. Nearly all of the space is occupied.

Ultimately we could see that this is the consummate all-rounder. It looks feisty, yet gentile and feminine. The criticisms of its design were few and minor, and this car delivers exceptionally in capability and design as both a coupe GT and cabriolet. Barely any compromise is evident - a very impressive achievement. But it is a car without a clear identity. It's not a true GT, nor is it a cabrio in the traditional sense. With its conflicting requirements it's hard to place, but the 3 series coupe cabriolet is a new breed of BMW, and perhaps the perfect single car solution for many of us.   

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