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BMW 318i M Sport Review: The Junior Executive Has Achieved An ‘Exceeded Expectations’ Rating

The base 318i lives up to its reputation as a sporty handler.
Ronald Chua
Ronald Chua
03 Sep 2023
A 3 Series is all about fun and handling and the 318i does that to a tee...
What we like:
Handling capabilities
Good looks
What we dislike:
Stiff M Sport suspension
Grabby brakes

In the past, anyone who wanted an ‘entry-level’ BMW would go for a 3 Series before moving up the hierarchy to a 5 Series, and perhaps a 7 Series at some point when they are at the top of the corporate ladder. (Mind you, there is nothing entry-level about a BMW in Singapore…)

The 3 Series has always been termed as the junior executive’s car of choice. It provided drivers with a blend of quality, space, comfort, power and most importantly, sportiness, all in a single package that wore the BMW badge. It was the toy for the young executive who wanted a bit of fun before getting on age.

Now in its 7th generation, the facelifted 3 series has received some cosmetic upgrades and an updated BMW iDrive Operating System. To the untrained eye, the car looks similar to the pre-facelift model. On the exterior, the key changes can be found at the bumpers, the grilles and the headlights – all of which have a sharper and angular finish. It still looks fresh for a model that was launched almost 5 years back.

In the M Sport package tested here, the 318i has a fiercer looking lower air intake, sportier 5-spoke rims, lowered suspension and an M Sport steering wheel.

The facelifted model features a new dashboard. Termed Curved Display, it was first found in the BMW iX and is powered by BMW’s Operating System 8 iDrive. It lightens the ambience of the interior and keeps the 318i up-to-date in the race for touch-screen supremacy and app functionality. The climate control buttons and display have also been removed from the dashboard and integrated into the OS8 system.

Down the centre console, the traditional gear lever has now been replaced by a toggle switch. It is nifty to use but it left me wondering what benefit it brought to the car too.

Despite being the base 318i model, BMW has not skimped on features. The car comes with an excellent auto-park functionality which actually works very well in a variety of parallel and vertical parking lots. While testing this functionality, I might have accidentally spooked an elderly man who was standing nearby who saw a car turn and park itself with the driver just casually chilling.

Rear seat comfort is excellent and rear passengers have individual aircon controls. The doors on this generation of 3 series also close with a very satisfying thump.

The 318i is powered by a BMW B48 2.0 engine that produces 156 hp and 250 Nm and is transmitted to the wheels via an 8-speed gearbox. 0 to 100 is achieved in 8.6s and top speed is rated at 223 km/h. Whilst these figures are not mind blowing M3 standards, it is very commendable for a base 3 series. In fact, in this state of tune, the B48 engine is strong in the low to mid-range pull and is very sufficient for some enthusiastic driving in Singapore.

As alluded to earlier, a 3 series is all about fun and handling and the 318i does that to a tee. The 50/50 weight distribution, rear wheel drive and a well sorted chassis makes the 318i light on its feet around corners.

With a list price of S$309,888, the BMW 318i M Sport is S$9,000 dearer than the base model. I would get the comfort model as it comes with the normal suspension that would likely make the car more pliant over bumps at low speeds. The 318i is still the ‘entry-level’ car where one can experience how a well handling BMW should be like amidst the smaller and newer 1 and 2 series models. This is the original recipe indeed.


BMW has refined the recipe for its iconic 3 series – just get the 318i in comfort base specification.

Photos by New Gen Marketing


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