Yup, I managed to get Wayne to surrender the keys to his beloved Beemer for more than a day – a couple of days in fact, testimony to the new metal he had to test and some shifts in the long-term fleet. And now I too understand the glazed look in his eyes when discussing the Red Baron’s attributes. Look, straight off it’s not a sexy car, not in the Maserati sense at any rate. It’s a hunk of macho metal cleaved from a solid block using a sharp instrument. Just look at those huge 18 inch wheels filling the arches with wide, wide 255/35 Michelin rubber at the rear. It squats menacingly. Fire up the 225kW twin-turbo beast within and the crisp baaaarp tells you this six means business. Nestle into the tight leather pews, a few pushes of the electric adjusters and some jostling with the steering and you’re ready to grip that fat wheel with intent. Wayne’s even sorted the iDrive so it’s dead easy to choose navigation and sound. And the drive is sublime.
The Steptronic box is seamless, bar the occasional surge from start due to driver feed-in error, and those roundly criticized paddles on the steering work for me – push in either side to change down, pull back on either side to change up. What’s the problem? Brilliant. (Twenty million PlayStation users can’t be wrong – Wayne) The run-flats add to the stiff suspension effect. You feel the road surfaces and the car will step out its rear on mid-corner bumps. But that’s the point, it rewards driving and you have to stay focused at speed as the steering yaws over undulations. But you know exactly what’s going on. Grip levels are phenomenal really, and the power surge addictive, yet it always feels nimble, athletic, engaging. But there are downsides. It’s thirsty, rear legroom is limited, and the driver’s cupholder is a failed piece of engineering. I can just hear the men at M-Division discussing that particular scrap of plastic origami: ‘Ja, ze 335 is for drei-ving, not coffee klub.’ They had the last word too. Hot take-away coffee in hand, I finally managed to prise out the cupholder which is semi-permanently stuck in its mid-dash slot. The passenger’s side one still emerges impeccably at a single touch. But coffee stowed, a minute later along came a long curving left-hander freeway on-ramp and, committed, steering held firm, the cup tilted over and with Germanic precision, poured a long, thin stream of its searing contents onto my leg. At least three deadly seconds of it until I could straighten up and let go long enough to set things right. Yeeeoouuch. Idiot! So ja, it’s a driving tool, not a mobile café. And I’m sure the engineers even planned the trajectory.
UPS | Athletic, engaging drive and as much power as most mortals need
DOWNS | Jittery run-flat ride, restricted rear legroom
It happened. The one thing I’ve been dreading from the day I took over stewardship of the twin-turbo Beemer. No, not a prang or even a blown turbo, just a long, fat screw. I spotted it just in time too, standing proud in the right rear tyre. From the entry angle I knew that if I drove another metre on it, the tyre would be tickets. Usually a no no, but in this case, it had to go. So I got out my dusty pliers and gave the screw a solid heave, fully expecting the tyre to implode. Instead, nothing. No wheezing, farting or deflating, just silence.
You know your BMWs, so you’re aware that all non-M models come standard with run flats. You’ve just seen a centimetre of steel come out of your tyre and now your only option is to drive, slowly, to your nearest BMW dealer or tyre fitment centre, whereupon you will be told that a replacement 255/35 ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport Run Flat would’ve set you back a cool five grand, if they had any stock. As our 335i belongs to BMW, I had to sit it out, eventually waiting ten days for a tyre to arrive. Fortunately the tyre had shown no loss of pressure whatsoever and as I had no other option, I continued to commute, albeit gingerly, to and from work each day. Now if it was my own car, I would’ve phoned around, which I did, only to hear a similar refrain from a couple of franchises: ‘Roughly five grand, sorry no stock.’ I read another BMW owner’s viewpoint recently on BMW’s run flat policy, questioning why run flats are not an option you tick right alongside comfort seats and bamboo dash inserts. However clever BMW’s thinking is on the issue, I can now relate.
Odo reading at start/now:520/13628km
Distance covered: 13108km
Fuel consumed: 1569.37ℓ
Av. fuel consumption: 11.97ℓ/100km
Oil consumed: Nil
Service: Determined by OBC
Service cost: Nil
Total fuel cost: R13673.18