BMW 3-Series Coupe

Danny Cobbs joins a team of Sussex Life readers to put BMW's new coupe through its paces...

I've always been told, "success begets success". Well it doesn't, not in the UK at least. For some reason, and I can only ponder that it's out of jealously, we've made a sport out of ridiculing the successful. Professional sportsmen and women are fair game, David Beckham is a prime example of this. The fact he has a talent to place a spherical piece of leather anywhere on the park has elevated him to demigod and worshiped by most of the planet.

Apart from his obvious soccer skills he also happens to be so handsome it makes pre-menopausal women wish they were thirty years younger and nine-year old girls want to be twenty years older. His fame and genius has brought him riches the rest of us mere mortals can only dream of. A young, rich, gifted, family man idolised by millions but yet every time he opens his mouth we snigger at his high-pitched Essex accent. Does our green-eyed monster rear its ugly head every time Beckham's interviewed? You bet.

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In the world of motoring, BMW has the same problem. Each time it introduces a new model we try to find fault, but rarely do. We, journalists, might ponder over styling issues or handling but it really doesn't matter, at the end of the day it's you, the buying public, who vote with your cheque books.

Status symbol Folk buy BMW's because they know exactly what they're going to get. It sends a message to the neighbours "I've doing okay, thanks", but more importantly it delivers in the driving department. For the past week I've been living with the new, two-door 3-Series coupe 335i SE and it has delivered with the enthusiasm of Santa at Christmas. The front layout isn't too dissimilar than that of its four-door brother, but the rear, which is normally cramped in most other coupe's, has acres of space - a claustrophobic, six-foot rugby player wouldn't start hyperventilating. And then there's the twin turbo 3.0-litre engine; capable of getting to 60mph in five and half seconds. It effortlessly goes from thirty to seventy without pausing to be dropped into a lower cog. Where it does have a problem is harnessing all that power smoothly in the lower gears through the 6-speed manual transmission. It feels as it all the torque rattles around the car and then whooshes it out in one, huge, thorax-ripping burst. It's not the most polite way of pulling-off at a set of traffic lights.

Unusually for BMW it comes with a whole host of standard features, which goes some way to justifying the near two and half grand premium above the equivalent four-door saloon. Scrimping and saving to buy any BMW is going to take longer than choosing a lesser brand, and the 335i will need quite a large piggy bank to accommodate the 33420 one pound coins it will take to have this car sitting on your driveway. This is the first of a five model line-up, and by the end of Spring 2007 will include two further petrol versions and two diesels, with prices from £28,090 to £35,475.

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The 335i Coupe is the sort of car that has made BMWs so desirable. There will always be those who knock you for following the flock and choosing the blue and white propeller instead of another mark. Don't try and give an explanation, don't even reason with them just nod politely, hand them the keys and let them drive it. Will they be envious afterwards? Absolutely.

Alex Graham from Horsham Drives Ford Ka

The 3 Coupe sports an interior I would have expected from BMW - with all the controls exactly to hand. The twin turbo engine gave out immense power and it didn't take long for me to realise that if I drove this car on a regular basis my driving licence would be in jeopardy. Even at high speeds this BMW felt very sure in the direction I pointed it. The noise it makes is wonderful and the brakes would stop a super tanker. As an everyday car it would be so easy to live with.

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Michael Carlton from Brighton Drives Merc SL500

I have always been a fan of high-revving engines and this coupe does not disappoint. Press the starter button and the sound fills the cabin with a symphony of metallic free-revving harmony. The gear-box was precise but harsh when using first gear. Despite this being a coupe, I was amazed at how much room there was in the back. The ride was surprisingly forgiving but allowed the car to corner almost flat. Overall, the 3-Series coupe is a very quick and appealing car. Phillipa Salinger from Henfield Drives Honda CRV

The thought of driving this car was quite intimidating, compared with my usual car, particularly as it was raining on the day, but it was actually quite easy to drive. That is, until you floor the throttle in third, when all hell beaks loose and you are catapulted towards the horizon. I would definitely have to think twice about spending this sort of cash on a car. So, would the head or the heart win? Probably the heart.

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