You probably read my last WWzD post and said, "Cool car, but I need something that gets better than 14 MPG ... jackass." I get that. Accordingly, I direct your attention the BMW 335d. You're proabaly familiar with the 335i, which has a twin-turbocharged version of BMW's brilliant straight-6 engine. The 335d is also a twin-turbocharged straight-6, but it's a diesel. Hear me out.
Modern diesels are much cleaner than the old Benzes you remember from the 1980's, kicking up roostertails of exhaust plumes like Pigpen's wake. Diesels are (and always have been) more fuel efficent and torquier than gasoline powered engines. The geniuses (genii?) at BMW applied all their engineering wisdom and came up with a car that gets 36 MPG on the highway but puts out 265 HP and 425 pound-feet of torque. That's more torque than the A6 from my last post, the one with the Lamborghini engine. It's even more torque than BMW's flagship M3. As a result, the 335d absolutely demolishes other people on the highway. I know this because I am so smitten with the 335d that I test-drove one on Saturday.
Taking off from a dead stop a stoplight is a brisk affair in the 335d, but going from, say 50-to-70 MPH on the highway is nearly instantaneous. I stepped out of the right lane to pass someone, goosed the gas, and nearly broke my neck. This driving style will not save fuel but I can see how it would become addictive. And I'm not the only one who feels this way--Warren Brown of the Washington Post wrote, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, that "I believe the 335d is the best midsize sedan ever. That's 'best' as in better than any midsize sedan I've driven in 42 years of driving and driving nearly everything there is to be driven."
BMW sold the 335d in the US from 2009 to 2012. Predictably, no one wanted this mix of power and fuel economy because it came in an unusual package. As a result these cars generally went unloved by the type of folks who want to lease a BMW, so there aren't a ton of them out there on the CPO market. Diesel fans likely won't ever part with them so good luck finding one. None are available with a manual transmission. All are rear wheel drive. So snow tires are a must if you live in places where you're expected to get to work on time despite slushy weather.
Despite the fact that I'm looking for a car and the 335d was a blast to drive, I probably will not buy the one I drove this weekend, even though it was a perfect black-and-tan color combo, and even though the car's built-in computer showed that it averaged a remarkable 29.7 MPG over the past 2300 miles. The reason, you ask? Because it has iDrive, a maddeningly complicated computer interface system that necessetates a PhD in electrical engineering to change the radio station or to switch from the radio to the CD player or iPod jack. Totally killed the car for me. I'd rather get a non-iDrive model and buy a TomTom for $100 for navigation.
So I guess this post should really be "What Would zman Almost Drive."