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VEHICLE REVIEW BMW 335i GT xDrive improves the quintessential sports sedan
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Casey Williams,

This article shared 5923 times since Tue Jul 28, 2015
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BMW's 3-Series is the quintessential sport sedan, setting a tough standard that others struggle to attain. But, it is not perfect. While it's a finely engineered toy from behind the wheel, rear-seat passengers are better left behind. And, luggage space? There's usually enough, but sometimes not enough. A low ride height enhances handling, but makes stooping in less than elegant. There's room for improvement.

So, here's where it gets interesting. BMW took the long-wheelbase executive-focused 3-Series from China and fashioned a long hatchback over it. Not only do you get regal legroom, but also interior space rivaling a station wagon—all while riding higher and more comfortably than in a 3-Series sedan. Sure, it doesn't handle quite as well, but unless you're Danica Patrick, I doubt you'll notice.

Like other 3-Series, the GT smothers passengers with luxury. Heated front and rear leather seats, heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon Surround Sound System, Bluetooth calling/audio streaming, and automatic climate control are part of the kit—as are BMW's decrepit iDrive joywheel-controlled infotainment system that requires you to navigate menus three-deep where simple buttons would suffice. I love the heads-up display, but good luck figuring out how to adjust it. BMW could learn from Chevrolet.

That's the worst of it. Stretching out under the panoramic sunroof is a nice place to be. Conveniences like a power rear hatch, dynamic cruise control, and rain-sensing wipers are also appreciated. Typical of BMWs, everything you scratch or sniff seems well-made. And if as a driver that bores you, select your favorite driving mode: Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, or Sport+. Each adjusts the throttle, steering, and suspension for your particular mood.

Just because it looks like a family-friendly hatchback doesn't mean it accelerates like one. It's a full-on rave juiced with a 300 horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine connected to an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW claims it will leap from 0-60 mph in just 5.1s. It's not all brawn, enabling 20/30-MPG city/hwy with a little help from the octo-trans, direct injection, and auto start/stop technology that pauses the engine at rest. Forget rest.

While this car is more about quiet confidence than track-storming shenanigans, power is plentiful for a car this size. The suspension absorbs rough roads with tomb quietness. During a snowstorm, the xDrive AWD system clawed in and ushered away without drama. Slick streets barely bothered it. Sure, you might want to shoe the 18" five-spoke alloys with winter tires instead of the standard all-season tires, but it's nice to enjoy a German car in all weather. Slapping curvy backroads during clear weather proves just as easy.

BMW seems intent on creating every form and fashion of car, creating odd-shaped performers that seemingly nobody requested. Most of these come in the form of tall hatchbacks like the 335i GT. I thought it was all a bunch of silliness at first, but I get it. Why not drive an enjoyable BMW that is also very practical? If it looks a little weird, get over it. A base price of $41,450, and $57,525 as-tested, puts it against the Audi Allroad, Infiniti QX50, Toyota Venza and Volvo V60.

Storm forward!

2014 BMW 335i GT xDrive

Five-passenger, AWD sedan

Powertrain: 300hp 3.0-liter turbo-6, 8-spd auto trans

Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind

Wheels: 18"/18" alloy f/r

Brakes: disc/disc fr/rr with ABS

Must-have features: Performance, Utility

Fuel economy: 20/30 mpg city/hwy

Base/as-tested price: $41,450/57,525

This article shared 5923 times since Tue Jul 28, 2015
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