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No matter the number of times you say you aren’t attentive to status symbols and their implications, we know better.

27 Nov 2009

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And that’s what I’ve deduced after test driving BMW’s face lifted 318i Sedan earlier last week.

You see, we have a thing for symbols here – the kind that gives us a sneak-peek into the kind of lives the person under scrutiny is living.

Your MINI tells me you’re either in the creative industry, you’re a banker, or you’re a soccer Mom. Either way it’s almost certain your annual income bracket isn’t rated average.

Then you’ve got the all-time favourite, Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This is easy. You’re the boss of a factory selling pipes to clients in the shipping industry, you own a highly successful hawker shop, and if you have a driver, you must be either a lawyer or in the banking industry and it wasn’t your car to start with. This relatively goes also with the 7 Series. The assumption could change depending on what the driver is wearing.

If you’re balking at my generalizations above, well, then you’re probably one of the few people who actually aren’t sensitive to these objects of desire and status. For the rest of us on the other hand (the ones who mentally nodded in agreement to how I diagnosed the car owners), this is the reality.

And there’s no better way for a young man or woman to tell their parents and their relatives they’re doing very well financially, than in buying themselves a BMW 3 Series. Surely a first-hand unit would be best but even, if like my cousin, you buy a second-hand piece, it still embraces you with the prestige and classiness the brand represents.

With the 318i’s, BMW has historically allowed those who have always dreamt to of owning one of these Bavarian work horses at a stage where they’ve just started to establish themselves in their careers, and so are able to afford the cost of owning such a luxury sedan. How affordable? While I can’t be sure the previous model was retailing for, the new one I’m testing here today is retailing for a wallet-friendly $126,800 (as of 25/11/09).

Naturally, that’s got everyone else in the segment worried.

What’s new with face lift?

Well, there’ve been a couple of things changed on the outside but they’re pretty subtle, you’ll probably miss it if you blinked while glancing.

Starting from the front, there’s the redesigned headlamps that have gone for an eye-lift, looking shaper than it used to. The kidney grills have been softened up around the edges and the steeply falling lines to the sides of the grill penetrate its way into the bumpers, making for a more aggressive front mug.

At the rear, the tail lamps have been given an updated LED cluster and a less rounded outline, while the bumper has also been changed.

But the most important design update on the new 3 is bonnet creases that starts from the BMW emblem on the front and rides to the rear in a Mohawk fashion. Not only does it cap off the whole aggressive persona of the new car but it also ties all these small changes made together.

Unfortunately though, the 318i will not fail in reminding you each morning that you only own the most basic model in the 3 Series lineup with those 16-inch alloys. The exhaust in the rear isn’t as puny as some others might make it out to be though, lending the car a faint idling growl.
Also read our comparison article on:
Comparison Test - Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI and BMW 323i

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors


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Engine Type


4-cylinders in-line

Engine Cap





101kW (136 bhp) / 5750 rpm



180 Nm / 3250 rpm



6-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption



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bmw  bmw 3 series  bmw 318i  318i  review  test drive  road test