2012 BMW 335i Sedan
BMW's 3-series sedan has long stood at the top of the luxury sport sedan segment for a variety of reasons. To begin with, its size has always been just right - not too small, not too big. Aesthetically, it's always been pleasing to most eyes - not something that could be taken for granted during chief designer, Chris Bangle's tenure. But mostly, what has made the 3 a benchmark is its well-rounded performance.
Let's face it, when a manufacturer sets off to design an entry-level luxury/sport sedan, the car they target is this one - and some won't even hide the fact, calling out BMW and touting their "latest and greatest" as the car that will finally topple the 3-series. And really, who can blame 'em? After all, if you're gonna target any car as "the one-to-beat", you might as well go after The King. And in this class, the BMW 335i is still the King.
The ride and handling balance is perhaps the 335's biggest advantage over competitors. The chassis isolates you just enough, while still communicating what's going on. The brake pedal, too, offers good feel and stays firm underfoot. You really have to use the car hard - as in, on the track for extended periods - before BMW's Brake Fade Compensation system gives in and the pedal goes soft on you. It's also on the track, where you might be left wanting for traction, as the lack of a limited-slip differential will have the Dynamic Traction Control light blinking away at you. If you choose to disable the system, you'll be left spinning the inside wheel coming out of corners while hard on the gas. To be fair, the 335i isn't intended to be a track-car, and this is something that most owners will never experience on the street.
One of the many positive attributes you'll find while driving the 335i aggressively involves the latest version of BMW's Dynamic Stability Control. DSC is a great chaperon, allowing the 335i's back end to get involved in steering the car, while rewarding through subtle intervention that will make you feel like a hero. Any manufacturer looking to dethrone this BMW will do well to have a look at the system