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Blessed with ample equipment, dynamic handling and a capable drivetrain, the entry model 3 Series is an easy choice for buyers.

22 Feb 2021


For some buyers, the decision on whether or not to buy this car comes down to an extremely simple calculation. This is the entry-model, cheapest BMW 3 Series. Buy. End of story.

And if we're being honest, it's hard to really argue that. The 3 Series is a staple choice within the compact executive sedan segment and, for some buyers, it's simply about owning a 3 Series. And, hey, there's nothing wrong with wanting the cheapest option. 

But, is this 318i actually any good?

Packing heat

The 318i comes equipped with wireless Apple CarPlay as standard
This 318i comes in the Sport trim, which is ostensibly the most bare trim. However, the car is anything but bare.

Yeah, the 17-inch rims are kind of plain looking, some of the materials inside the cabin are not quite as luxurious (you don't get fancy wood trimming), but to be honest, there's nothing that you’re really going to dearly miss.

Safety and assistance system are the same across all model variants currently offered. All functional equipment in the car are the same - BMW Digital Key, BMW Live Cockpit Professional, Intelligent Personal Assistant, Parking Assistant, BMW Connected Package Professional, wireless charging, it's all there.

The cabin is premium and well-equipped, and you'll find little to complain about
One of the best features is the Comfort Access System, whereby you just need to walk up to the car with your key in your pocket or bag, and the car automatically unlocks. Walk away, and it'll automatically lock. It's so simple, yet so pleasingly convenient.

I don't think the current generation 3 Series looks particularly good outside of the M Sport trim (it's a bit too long and 'soft' up front), but honestly, that doesn't really matter as most people won't look past the badge.

Light and sweet

The 2.0-litre engine delivers acceptable performance across most driving situations
Powering the 318i is a 2.0-litre that outputs a modest 154bhp and 250Nm of torque. It's still more than adequate power for everyday use. Driven lightly, the car is smooth, quiet and reasonably accelerative. Yes, it's less powerful than the 320i, but in 80% to 90% of driving situations you won't really be able to feel the difference (unless you're the sort that has a leaden right foot).

Unsurprisingly, the 318i retains BMW's trademark handling prowess. The car is tight, agile and handles with confidence. 

The car comes equipped with the same safety features across all variants
The ride is also very well-sorted. The lowered M Sport suspension on the tester we drove a couple of years ago was definitely too harsh, so much so that BMW actually retuned the suspension for subsequent model year cars. This car is just right - forgiving over bumps, but still capable through windy roads.

Near complete

So, is this car any good? Simply put, yes, it is. It's very, very good.

Considering this is the base model, the car is shockingly well-equipped. At no point sitting in or driving this 318i will you think, "oh yeah this is a cheap BMW", because the truth is that across the board, the specification is remarkably similar to the more expensive variants.

In the market for a 3 Series? This 318i model is the easy and obvious choice
And, this downtuned engine means that the 318i falls in VES Band B, while the 320i is in Band C1. Consequently, the price difference between the 318i Sport and full-spec 320i M Sport is a whopping $38,000. The availability of this car almost makes the 320i irrelevant, as far as sales are concerned.

At $207,888 (as of 19 February 2021), this entry level 3 Series still isn't anywhere near cheap. In fact, in its class, it's still the priciest offering (a Merc C180 is $1,000 cheaper, while a comparable A4 is almost $15,000 cheaper).

But, it is a 3 Series after all. That comes with a certain level of clout and status, as well as undeniable BMW capability, heritage and dynamism. And as far as entry models go, this is one hell of an offering. If you're in the market for a new 3 Series, this 318i a no-brainer.

Car Information

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Price

: $228,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1998cc

Horsepower

:

115kW (154 bhp) / 6500 rpm

Torque

:

250 Nm / 4300 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) Steptronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.4sec

Top Speed

:

223km/h

Fuel consumption

:

17.2 km/L

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bmw  bmw 3 series  3 series  318  318i  bmw 318i  bnw sedan  3 series sedan