Our Chicago based friends at MotivMag have just posted their review of the 2009 BMW 335d, first twin-turbo diesel coming to the States. Bryan picked up a U.S.-spec 335d in Munich and drove it to northern Italy and back, taking the car through the beautiful Alps.
The upside to fuel crises, if there must be one, is that carmakers offer up all kinds of solutions that would have no appeal in a low-cost and stable fuel marketplace. How else do you explain Cadillacs with V-8-6-4 engines? The downside, of course, is that once the perceived threat is over (or once we get used to $3-a-gallon gas) the market corrects itself, and these oddball crisis cars disappear as fast as they came. In some cases (i.e., the aforementioned Cadillac) that’s a good thing; in others, the march of legitimate alt-fuel progress gets kneecapped. Thankfully there’s Europe, where gas prices are reliably obscene.
It’s been nearly a quarter of a century since BMW last offered American buyers a gasoline alternative — in the form of the 1985-’86 524td — and conditions are certainly right once again for a Bavarian-bred economy champ. And while we sat fat and happy in our Excursions, European diesel cars kept evolving — unlike that smoky, choky 524td, BMW’s new diesel-powered 335d combines serious performance with remarkable fuel economy and serves them up in the ever-popular 3-series platform.
Indeed, the fact that the U.S. hasn’t seen a BMW diesel in more than twenty years doesn’t mean BMW hasn’t been building them. In Europe, the company sells more diesel- than gas-powered cars, and it’s gotten a solid reputation for building great oil burners. The heart of the 335d is a lightweight inline six-cylinder with intercooled, variable-nozzle twin turbochargers, common-rail fuel delivery, and high-pressure direct injection that borrows its basic architecture from the newest inline six gas engine used in the 335i. Like that engine, it employs such goodies as all-aluminum construction, electrically operated power steering, an electric water pump for reduced engine drag, and an alternator that engages only when the engine is off load.