I needed to be reminded what it’s like to have a totally carefree, relaxed motoring experience. Bought new nearly 14 years ago, my car has developed a few nagging noises and personality disorders. Lucky for me the rest of the staff was committed to other vehicles or trips so into the 2011 BMW 535i sedan I went.
Early morning drives on open roads recharge the batteries, sure, but I needed something more permanent. I needed to recapture that loving feeling in a situation where I spend most of my drive time, city street traffic. If I could survive a trip in traffic conditions worse than I normally find myself in, then my normal traffic pains won’t seem so bad. For a quick recharge I took a late-ish evening drive. The twin-turbo inline six is just so smooth, and the chassis is so well sorted I stayed out way past my bedtime. I kept telling myself, just 10 more miles... I know it’s a work night, but I’m having just such a good time. Onward. The next day was when the real adventure began.
Driving up Pacific Coast Highway during the US Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach, California, is not for the faint of heart. For me, getting from one end of Surf City to the other is a stretch of roughly six miles that would try the patience of the most tolerant of people. Beset by obstacles and distractions in every lane (lifted “bro” trucks, turn signal-phobes and cyclists of every ilk) and at every stop (red-light runners, jaywalkers and bikini-clad temptresses) I soldiered on in climate-controlled comfort shrouded in leather. With plenty of interior space, I could have easily fit four temptresses in here (for conversation, of course), and a few spares in the spacious trunk.
About four miles into the traffic quagmire, and over an hour later, I was near my breaking point. But then something occurred to inspire me to soldier on. I had seen them each separately in my periphery along PCH, but was now embraced by them, and I felt relief and calm wash over me. To my right was a black E30 M3; in front of him, a red 850; and in front of me, a red 650 convertible. Finally the road opened up, and we were able to achieve a speed approaching the posted limit.
Even after my companion Bimmers peeled off on their own paths, I had a feeling that things were going to be better. I thought it best to confirm with a quick speed run. Time to uncork the 300-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six. Foot buried and triple digits achieved. Back down to safe and sane with no reds-and-blues in my mirrors. There’s nothing else to say other than it was a righteous experience.
2011 BMW 535i
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
3.0-liter I6, dohc, 24-valve, turbocharged
MSRP: $52,250 (Price as Tested: $57,775)
Peak Power: 300 hp @ 6100 rpm
Peak Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm
0-60 mph: 5.8 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 19 city / 28 hwy