And performance is what this model is all about: 0-62mph in 6.1sec, a capped top speed of 155mph – and all from a diesel.
The 3.0-litre engine is the same six-cylinder, 24-valve twin turbo that is seen in the 535d and the X3 3.0 Sd.
Foot down and the car powers away from you with what should be unnerving speed but, thanks to all BMW’s techno-wizardry, feels controlled and tameable. The 335d was designed to overtake, and it clears long streams of traffic with aplomb. The automatic gearbox (which can be overridden by steering wheel paddles) changes so smoothly that you completely forget about it.
The lines are very 3-series, but with a lower roofline and a rakish screen.Inside, there is plenty of room, although the dashboard isn’t very stylish. It is, however, very ‘BMW’ with its dark-grey poplar wood trim – an option at £335. This car also had a leather interior (£1,295) and professional sat-nav (£1,970), part of the iDrive system.
The car, according to BMW, reaches 37.7mpg combined, 47.9mpg if driven gently. The downside is that £35,000 is a lot to pay for what is, after all, only a 3-series – the 535d M Sport costs just £5,000 more as standard.
Price: £35,475 (£40,500 as tested)
Engine: 3.0-litre diesel, 286bhp
Performance: 0-62mph 6.1sec, top speed 155mph (limited)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with shift paddles on steering wheel
Efficiency: 37.7mpg; 200g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £14,025 (43%)
Rivals: Merc CLK, Porsche Cayman
Strengths: Power, speed
Weaknesses: Gets pricey with extras
Opportunity: Young, sporty audience
Threat: BMW’s own 5-series
USP: Fastest production diesel car