BMW 3 Series 318i Sedan Sport Review
Four Good R3asons

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
2 Dec 2020
 

This time, BMW has bucked that trend with the new 318i, having instead their 2.0 four cylinder turbocharged engine powering the car...

BMW launched the 3 Series just a year ago, with just one model in two trim levels. The 330i might have been on the pricier side, but it did showcase all the good that BMW is today. A great driver’s car that is loaded with technological goodies; a good number of I bet, if you are a current model 3 Series owner, you’d probably not be using a good half of them.

But that is besides the point. The 3 Series is a very important car for BMW. The brand’s main product line is built around this one car. It carries a unique haloed position, not as a flagship model, but one that is a little more attainable, especially for those who may want to celebrate their first successes in their careers.

Perhaps the 330i would still have been out-of-reach of many, since it costs somewhere around entry pre-LCI 5 series money.

BMW has now included their base 3 Series in their lineup here, and those who still are keen to “Bring Joy” to their motoring experience, would probably be looking forward to this sedan.

Apart from the different model badge, the 318i also sports 17” V-spoke style 775 Bicolour Orbit Grey rims, on size down from the more powerful 320i; and is decked out in their Shadow Line trim package.

BMW’s D-Segment sedan now looks more refined, and sportier than the previous 3. From a larger grille, stylised LED headlamps, and its signature blade-style tail lights; together with a pronounced accent line that runs along the side of the car, which hints that it sits lower. But in actual fact, it is larger and even slightly taller than the car it replaces. The G20’s wheelbase is also around 4cm longer, and from a driver’s perspective, that wider track does translate to improved stability.

I do also like the smaller details, like the neatly-sculpted Hofmeister Kink that forms the surround of the exposed rear quarter glass.

Inside

You wouldn’t be missing a lot in the 318i, as compared to the higher-powered 3 Series cars here. The infotainment unit, fronted by a 10.25” Control Display, runs on BMW’s latest Operating System 7, and includes their very cool voice activated BMW Personal Assistant, that is activated by the phrase “Hey BMW!”. Mobile connectivity is supported with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto available. 

The instrument cluster (BMW Live Cockpit Professional) is now fully digital with a 12.3” screen, providing drivers with the added and welcome flexibility of having their SatNav displayed in-front of them.

While the base car uses leather simulating Sensatec in-place of cow hide for its seats, they are built with quality; and both front seats are electrically toggled, with the driver’s side featuring two memory settings. The side bolsters are also adjustable, allowing you to have a snug fit, ideal especially if you prefer a more spirited drive.

There is one downside to the interior. While it is solidly built, the piano black plastic paneling that replaces those very lovely wooden ones, could still be of slightly higher quality. There are also slight mismatches around some of the edges.

Passenger accommodation is very good, and rear occupants do have more-than-ample head and leg room, and you do get three headrests (the middle one being collapsable), so that all two-and-a-half rear passengers can ride in comfort. Air-conditioning at the rear has its own independent thermostat settings.

Its 480 litre boot is class-leading, even bettering the Audi A4’s already generous 460 litres. Rear seats fold in 40:20:40 fashion, complemented by BMW’s Through-Loading System for added flexibility.

The Drive

I have been looking forward to BMW’s entry 3er for four good reasons, and here are all four of them. The previous 318i was equipped with a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder unit, which did not sit so well with me. This is especially when the Start-Stop function were to be turned on, where the engine would judder quite a lot when it came back alive. Additionally, it did sound rougher. This time, BMW has bucked that trend with the new 318i, having instead their 2.0 four cylinder turbocharged engine powering the car… albeit in a(n even) lower state of tune.

While it is the least powerful of the 3 Series cars, the 318i does deliver well, with a more-than-acceptable 156hp and 250Nm, the latter from a spread between 1,300 to 4,300rpm (in contrast, the entry Audi A4 produces 150hp and 270Nm, while the Volvo S60 T4, 187hp and 300Nm). Paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the 318i clocks 100km/h in 8.4 seconds. Sure it is not the quickest, but it is not sluggish either. 

At very low speeds, the 318i does jerk a little. Going easier on the throttle helps to reduce this. During highway cruising, the Bavarian Sedan eats up the miles with ease, and it feels and sounds refined too. The transmission has gearing which is well-planned, and responds eagerly, kicking down quickly during overtaking maneuvers. The steering also feels quicker than most sedans in its class, and I do appreciate how it ties in with the car’s superb handling and balance; especially when flogging the 318i around twists and turns, where it nails near-hairpin corners, and powers out of them with ease. The 318i boasts a respectable 17.2km/l in combined cycle, and gets the current neutral VES rating.

Beyond its very good drivability, BMW has also included the same Driving Assistant found in the other cars in the range. The suite which includes Lane Departure, Change and Front Collision Warnings, the last with Brake Intervention, helps to contribute to the 3 Series’ 5-star Euro NCAP rating.

Yes, it also has BMW’s innovative Reversing Assistant, which allows you to reverse the car out of tight-complicated spaces, simply making this an easy car to live with.

Our Thoughts

BMW’s “cheapest” 3 Series still does not come cheap, thanks to the amount of driver-aiding tech that is included in every model, but it is the only one which is priced below the $200k mark.

While it does also cost more than most of the entry D-Segment luxury class sedans, it is probably the most fun to own, and worth shelling out a little more for... if you do live for an engaging drive.

In Summary

We Like

Most on the list of tech features are still available on the base 3 Series, and it has enough bells and whistles to keep most buyers happy. Very good around the bends. Very good on the straights… A very good all-rounder. Improved refinement over the previous car.

We Don't

Jerks a little at low speeds. Piano black interior plastics could have been done better.

Verdict

While the 318i may be the “foot through the door executive BMW”, it does deliver an engaging drive, accommodates four very well; and is definitely more refined than the 318i it replaces, thanks to its four cylinder setup.

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Bore x Stroke (94.6 x 82)mm
Power 154bhp @ 4500rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 1300rpm
Power to Weight 103.4 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 8.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 223 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 17.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FR
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4633 x 1811 x 1429) mm
Wheelbase 2810 mm
Turning Circle 11.4 metres
Kerb Weight 1490 kg
Boot Capacity 480 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 59 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs