It seems like Fall has come early in Ontario this year. During the 3rd week of August, the family here in The Garage spent some time in cottage country and noticed that the leaves had already begun to change. On Sunday this past week, when I finished up shooting the Drift Mania event at Mosport, I decided that it was warm enough to drive home with the top down. I was in for a real treat.
Sliding behind the wheel of the 2011 BMW 335i Cabriolet, I belted up and reached down to the center console and depressed the button that brings us to open sky mode. All 4 power windows lower themselves and then the folding hardtop begins its Transformer act, as it disappears beneath the rear deck. A quick stab of the ignition button and the 300 horsepower, twin turbo 6 rumbles to life with that distinct straight 6 growl. I shift the automatic shifter over into manual mode and roll away gently in first. Pulling out of the track, I lay firmly into the throttle and the back end steps out a little before the stability control reigns it in a bit.
As I head West, passing fields of drying corn and forests containing splashes of gold and orange, it occurs to me that this is what the 335i Cab was meant for. This is the essence of late summer cruising. Top down, enjoying the last warm days of summer with the Sirius satellite radio pumping out 1st Wave tunes. A speedy pace isn’t needed, because this experience is all about soaking in the countryside.
That isn’t to say that a speedy pace isn’t possible. With all those ponies on tap, the 335i has plenty of get up and go, it just doesn’t feel necessary. This is the same engine used in the rabid 135i, but thanks to its larger size and the automated roof the Cab weighs in at 560 pounds more than the little brother. That extra weight makes for an entirely different level of performance. One would suspect that the buyer looking for truly rapid transit would be looking at either the 135i or be drooling over an M car.
Our tester combined a rich Vermillion Red Metallic exterior with an exquisite interior wrapped in Oyster Dakota Leather. The combination looks spectacular, especially with the top down. The dash is set off by Bamboo Anthracite Trim which adds nicely to the elegant interior.
While the driving experience with the 335i Cab is wonderful, there are a few practicality issues that might affect the buying decisions of some consumers. Most European engineers still don’t understand North American coffee culture and the folks at BMW seem to be part of that crowd. The cup holders seem like an afterthought at best and aren’t large enough to hold a travel mug. The back seat would be fine if the driver and all three passengers were all under 5’6″, but with a 5’10” driver, the left rear passenger had best have no legs. On the other hand, 95 pound Enzo found it quite comfortable and enjoyed the open air drive. With the space taken up by the roof and mechanism, the trunk is rather small. On one trip to the store, 3 bags of groceries filled the space.
All that being said, it is doubtful that most buyers will be using the 335i Cabriolet as their primary vehicle. As equipped, our tester rang in at $73,800 CDN. The consumer who can afford that likely also have another vehicle or two in the driveway that they can use to transport their clubs to the golf course in, which is a good thing because they aren’t going to fit in the Cab.
Then again, perhaps the smart owner will choose to leave their gear at the club, so they can decompress while experiencing the drive out to the country. With this car, the experience is what matters most.