In America, the availability of light duty diesels is confined to work trucks, utilities, and a very few passenger cars. Europeans, however, have embraced fuel sipping diesels for years. And, they are everywhere, even in high performance machines. Well, now BMW wants to spread that gospel here. So let's see if diesels make a good fit for their kind of "ultimate driving experience".

BMW has coined the phrase "Efficient Dynamics" with vehicles like these in mind: The 2009 335d and the 2009 X5 xDrive35d. These are the carmaker's first new-generation, 50-state, clean-diesel offerings. Both with the goal of being clean and green without compromising BMW's legendary performance. Each is powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged and intercooled inline-6 diesel. It churns out 265 horsepower and a super-stout 425 pound-feet of torque. That's over 40% more than the 4.0-liter gas V8 in the M3! Similar to Mercedes-Benz and Audi, BMW uses AdBlue technology to reduce NOX emissions. Liquid Urea, stored in small tanks, is sprayed into the after-exhaust. That, plus a particulate filter, also eliminates the old fashioned diesel smoke and smell.

A 6-speed automatic with manual mode delivers power to the rear wheels of the 335d, and to all four of the X5 xDrive35d. On the track, our 335d sedan hit 60 in six seconds flat and darted through the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds at 98 miles per hour. Both times are less than a second off the last 335i we tested. Having so much torque in a relatively light car really delivers the sensation of power. Shifts are quick and smooth.

Through the slalom, the 335d showed all the dynamics of a normal 3-Series. Meaning it turns in quickly, stays flat, and charges the corners in a fast, confident manner. Steering is very responsive, well-weighted, and laser precise. Even as a diesel, the 3-Series is a sport sedan benchmark. And braking is up to the same par. Fade-free, rock solid stops from 60 to 0 averaged just 119 feet. The pedal is firm with short travel and no ABS pulsing.

Inside and out, the 335d is virtually identical to the 335i sedan. It does have recent updates like a revised front fascia, and the return of the more traditional L-shaped taillights. Within, this familiar 3-Series cabin gets an improved iDrive system for access to radio, navigation, and phone.

It's a similar clean-diesel story with BMW's original "Sports Activity Vehicle", the X5. On the track, our X5 xDrive35d ran from 0 to 60 in 6.7 seconds and captured the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 93 miles per hour—almost identical times to the X5 with a 4.8-liter gas V8. Once you get over the slight turbo lag, off-the-line power is cannon-like. Here shifts are harder, the sound grittier, and definitely aggressive.

It may be a utility, but the X5 is known for its sport sedan character, and this diesel is no different. Stiff and planted, the X5 xDrive35d has all the precision you expect in a BMW. Turn-ins aren't as snappy as the 3-Series, but they're still impressive for something this large and heavy. There is some tendency to plow when nearing its limits, but overall, the diesel X5 feels tight and well-balanced. Braking, however, was a different story. Stops from 60 averaged a short 124 feet, but there was noticeable fade, and even momentary lockup.

Aside from badging, the X5 xDrive35d is identical to the gas-powered X5 we've gotten to know so well. It shares the same sculpted body, and an interior that is both roomy and luxurious. Government Fuel Economy ratings for the 335d sedan are 23 city/36 highway. We achieved a thrifty 31.7 miles per gallon in real-world driving. The Energy Impact Score is a moderate 14.6 barrels of oil per year, while its Carbon Footprint measures 7.8 Annual Tons of CO2.

For the X5 xDrive35d utility, Government Fuel Economy ratings are 19 city/26 highway. We beat both with an impressive 27.7 miles per gallon. And that crushes the 16 MPG average of our long term 6-cylinder gas X5. The Energy Impact Score for the X5 xDrive35d is 17.9 barrels of oil consumed per year, while its Carbon Footprint came in at 9.6 Annual tons of CO2.

Pricing for the 335d begins at $44,725. That's $3600 more than the comparably equipped 335i. The X5 xDrive35d has a base sticker of $52,025, a premium of $3700 over its gas-powered counterpart. Both qualify for government tax credits, $900 on the sedan, and $1800 on the X5.

With the 335d and X5 xDrive35d, BMW proves green driving doesn't have to come with compromises. Both models deliver the same BMW experience as their gas-powered brethren. So, high performance and high mileage! Now that's a green combination everyone can envy.


  • Engine X5: 3.0-Liter Twin-turbocharged Intercooled Inline-6 Diesel
  • Horsepower: 265
  • Torque: 425 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 6.0 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.4 Seconds @ 93 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 119 Feet
  • EPA: 23 MPG City/ 36 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 31.7 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 14.6 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 7.8 Tons/Yr
  • Engine 335d: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged intercooled inline-6 diesel