The 335i didn’t join the E90 line-up until 2006 and when it did arrive it could be spec’d as either an SE or M Sport with price tags of £30,940 and £33,750 respectively. The engine was the twin-turbo N54 straight-six sourced from the Coupé, and in Saloon trim it was good for a 0-62mph time of 5.6 seconds for the six-speed manual or 5.8 seconds if equipped with the auto ‘box. Economy was pretty decent considering the performance on offer – both models returned an official figure of 29.4mpg on the combined cycle and emitted 231g/km of CO². Equipment was slightly sparser back then than what you’d find on a new 3 Series today, but you still had auto air, cruise control, rear PDC and metallic paint. Fortunately for the used buyer many first owners upgraded to leather and also added items such as satellite navigation and most were also spec’d with the six-speed auto too.
There weren’t a huge number of changes to the spec of the 335i over its production life but it’s worth bearing in mind that as BMW’s suite of EfficientDynamics technologies were added to the 335i its economy improved slightly, but most crucially its emissions dipped to 218 (manual) and 221 (auto) both of which reduce VED rates considerably.
In 2010 the 335i gained the new twin-scroll turbo N55 engine and while power was unchanged there was another improvement in economy and emissions, although this doesn’t lead to a significant saving on VED. In February 2012 the E90 was replaced by the all-new F30 3 Series.
Why should you buy one?
There’s something alluring about buying a wolf in sheep’s clothing and there’s no doubt the E90 335i is that. Most folk won’t give it a second look, but this is a very quick piece of kit, all wrapped up in the same practical four-door shell that’s usually home to a four pot diesel – the only give away with the 335i are the twin exhausts. And even then most people will assume it’s the diesel version, and that’s where the 335i really plays its trump card as they’re considerably cheaper to buy than an equivalent 335d.
Diesels tended to be bought by those who needed to do a lot of miles and as a result the cheaper examples all seem to have high miles – 150k is not uncommon – but the petrols generally have lower mileage on them. And if you don’t do a huge annual mileage the 335i could make a lot of sense, especially as they tended to be quite highly spec’d by their first owners.
While there are a number of big ticket items that could throw up bigish bills the car’s actual running costs shouldn’t be too bad, but you will need to bear in mind this is a 300-plus hp sports saloon and if most of your miles are in heavy commuter traffic your economy figure won’t be very appealing.
Early cars with the 231g/km emissions figures will cost you £490 to tax, but the later 218g/km machines are considerably better at £290, with the N55-engined machinery being the best of all at £265, although the auto is still £290. Servicing shouldn’t break the bank with the 335i listing on BMW’s online service quote system offing the following prices: oil service, £132; oil service with microfilter and plugs, £404; brake fluid, £45; Vehicle Check, £50; front and rear brake pads £195 and £146 respectively.
What goes wrong?
There are several problems that you may encounter with a 335i and the one that seems to get the most coverage is the high pressure fuel pump as this is a very well-documented problem that will cost in the region of £680 to replace at a BMW specialist. Injectors are another weak spot as are coils and electric water pumps (£650 fitted), and they can also suffer from a build up of carbon in the inlet manifold.
Turbos also suffer from a rattle from the wastegate, and if the turbos are replaced with new BMW items this will almost certainly reoccur. Fitting modified items or having your turbos rebuilt by a company such as Turbo Dynamics will prevent the wastegate rattle from reappearing but it’s not cheap – £700 for two turbo rebuilds plus the labour to remove and install them. New turbos from BMW are around £1250… each. Plus labour. For this reason we’d recommend buying a car from a specialist with a warranty that covers items such as these, or if you buy privately we’d recommend buying a separate warranty to cover such eventualities.
How much to pay?
There aren’t a huge number of cars to choose from but take your time and one that ticks all your boxes will be bound to come along sooner rather than later. Prices start at about £7000 for a 100k mile M Sport (and virtually all cars were spec’d as M Sports), £8000-9000 should get you a slightly later machine with fewer miles, while £10-11k should see you behind the wheel of a 2008 car with less than 50k miles. At the top end of the market expect to pay around £13k for a very well kitted-out example with around 40,000 miles. We wouldn’t want to pay more than this though as the next generation F30 335i starts at around £17k.
The 335i isn’t without its problems but provided you arm yourself with a warranty you shouldn’t have too many surprises. The later N55-engined cars do seem to be a lot more reliable, too. When they’re running right a 335i is a joy to drive – quick, discrete, relatively economical and very practical too. Also see Tuning Guide E9x 3-Series