2009 BMW 335d from the side
 2009 BMW 335d from the side
 2009 BMW 335d engine
 2009 BMW 335d driving up the hill
 2009 BMW 335d rear shot

Sonoma, CA - "Is this a hybrid?" asked the valet at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, as I stepped out of my BMW 335d. My first thought was, why is he asking me that? Then I realized that the BMW I was driving had writing all over it and he was just curious.

Then I remembered, I was at a Fairmont and all Northern California Fairmont hotels give complimentary valet parking if you are driving an alternative energy vehicle. The BMW I was driving was advanced diesel, clean diesel as it is being touted. And yes, it is considered an alternative energy vehicle by the government and by Fairmont. Perfect - $25 bucks more I can spend on Sonoma wine. Love it!

I drove the two hours from Auburn to Sonoma to get a metabolic testing at the Fairmont, something called "new leaf." It's a test to let you know about the efficiency of ones body while exercising. The writing on the side of the BMW 335d says "efficiency dynamics, BMW advanced diesel."

Efficiency dynamics is incorporated in the BMW advanced diesel. The metabolic testing of the body showed me that it's not how hard I press my body to work, but at what zone I press my body. Efficient dynamics incorporates the same mindset - lower emissions and consumption combined with more dynamic driving and performance.

Efficient dynamics was brought out in 2005 and was described by BMW as a Turbosteamer. "Think of a steam engine: Fluid is heated to form steam in two circuits and this is used to power the engine.

The primary energy supplier is the high-temperature circuit which uses exhaust heat from the internal combustion engine as an energy source via heat exchangers. More than 80 percent of the heat energy contained in the exhaust gases is recycled using this technology.

The steam is then conducted directly into an expansion unit linked to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Most of the remaining residual heat is absorbed by the cooling circuit of the engine, which acts as the second energy supply for the Turbosteamer."

Normally, in a BMW article, I would lament about how wonderful the vehicle was and too bad the idrive was so terrible. I have to admit, BMW has upgraded their system to the point that even I like it.

The big news, though, is the clean diesel, a diesel vehicle that is clean enough to be sold in fifty states. A BMW that has more sheer driving pleasure than its gasoline counterpart.

In order to comply with the U.S. fifty state regulation BMW will refill the urea tank when one brings the car in for service. The car will give you ample warning when the urea is getting low, and will not start if there is no urea in the tank.

With 265 horsepower and 425 lb-ft of torque available from the 3.0-liter sequential twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel engine, the 335d is capable of accelerating from 0 - 60 mph in six seconds flat. The 335d delivers 23 miles per gallon city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway according to the US EPA. During my drive from Auburn to Sonoma I averaged 38.9 miles using cruise control as often as possible.

Compare those diesel numbers to the 335i gasoline model which is powered by a 3.0-liter six, boosted by twin turbochargers and fed with fuel by High Precision direct fuel injection. This gasoline engine delivers 300 hp and 300 lb-ft. of torque, 0-60-mph times as quick as 5.4 sec., and EPA highway mileage ratings up to 26 mpg.

Diesel fuel is only 10 cents higher nationwide than gasoline these days, a far cry from how expensive diesel was in March, 2008. If I drive 15,000 miles a year I would save over $300 in my diesel BMW, over the 26 mpg in a gasoline BMW.

I haven't looked for diesel fuel before, so I wasn't sure what to get. Not all fuel stations carry diesel, and the Chevron I went by didn't. The next station was Shell and I remembered that Audi won the Lemans with Shell diesel fuel, so I thought they were a good stop. After I got out of the car I looked at the price board. These high performance cars almost always take premium gasoline. Premium gasoline was $2.35, diesel $2.19. The difference, in real dollars, would be over $500 annually.

Base price for the 2009 BMW 335d model was $43,900 plus 825 destination charge.The 2009 BMW 335d sedan that I drove had a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $52,820. The gasoline version will be about $3,000 less than the diesel, but if you purchase the 335d Sedan you will qualify for up to a $900 tax credit.

When I had the valet bring my BMW to the front of the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn a couple was strolling by and stopped and looked. "Is this a diesel BMW?" they ask. Before I could say anything the valet enthusiastically answered, "Yea, it's a BMW and it gets almost 40 miles to the gallon."

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