Although it's stickered up with rice-boy decals, the VFE car is fairly understated, and that's where the much of its appeal lies. On the road, it behaves with such fine mannerisms it's almost impossible to ascertain what's happening under the hood. The supercharger is virtually undetectable from inside the car; only a faint reedy whistle is audible to fellow drivers. As much as I'd like to say the M3 turns positively monstrous under load, such is not the case. It retains its poise right up to redline, somewhere slightly north of 7750 rpm. The real shock comes from the speedometer as triple digits appear with frightening brevity. And this is the real beauty of the VFE system. The M3 behaves like before, only it's faster, quite a bit faster. Quarter-mile runs in a similarly-equipped VFE-supercharged M3 reportedly saw times of 13 seconds at 119 mph. Too bad our car suffered a slipping clutch, because I'm convinced a VFE M3 could easily hit the mid 12s-if that sort of thing is of interest.
At first look, this 335i appears extraordinarily ordinary. No fancy wheels, no massive brakes; even the tires are stock. And that's what's so intriguing. Equipped with a little black box no bigger that a pack of French smokes, this BMW simply rips. If you haven't spent much time in a new 335i, you're missing out on a new definition of refinement. Smooth as glass and scary quiet, the 335i features a distinct harmonic, something like the supercharged P51 Mustangs of old. Not especially loud, mind you, but unique.
Out of the box, the 335i is already a quick piece. Packing 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, more than a few people are already calling it an M3 Killer, the car with the potential to kill BMW's favorite son (the not-yet-introduced E92 M3). I don't think the crew in Munich is worried, not at this point, at least. If they were to spend a few days behind the wheel of this car, they might get nervous.
There's a certain amount of voodoo going on here; few modifications this simple net such stunning results, not without eventual repercussions, anyway. Perhaps souls are an accepted form of payment. In any case, we found it impossible to keep the Vishnu 335i connected to the ground. The first three gears were met with gobs of thick, white smoke, the kind Camaro boys love. Leaving DSC active allowed the BMW some semblance of traction and we indulged in bowel-squeezing, turbocharged fun. We would find an open stretch of road, launch, brake and repeat. We did this for the better part a day, enough to burn through two tanks of premium.
So which is more important, torque or horsepower? The explosive torque of Vishnu's 335i is intoxicating but somewhat short-lived. Although both cars are virtually neck-and-neck to 60 mph, the M3 soon hits the afterburners and leaves the young upstart in the dust. Comparing the dyno sheets is a study in polar opposites, a teeter-totter type affair.
Although both cars have the same parent, their personalities are very different. The supercharged M3 is a Type A personality: powerful, aggressive, outspoken. Moreover, the revamped suspension and brakes left this car a highly track-worthy entity, a vehicle you could drive to the local circuit, flog, and go home on the same tank of fuel. The M3 is still the alpha male of all BMW 3 Series.
The Vishnu 335i is more relaxed and provides a sense of serene isolation. It doesn't feel so much in the world but skimming its surface. Although 335i tuning is in its infancy, it's a forgone conclusion this car will become the Toyota Supra of the Euro bunch. Give it a few months and watch as this new turbocharged stud shakes the industry.
BMW fans have never had it so good