2021 BMW 318i Sport Review - Sport-on
Singapore - Junior executive transport has always been BMW’s strong suite. The current 3 Series may be nearing a Life Cycle Impulse (LCI), but before they go on with their impulse, we take one last drive in the 3 Series in its current form.
The 318i may be the most affordable variant of the 3 Series range you can put your money down for, but for this generation, BMW decided not to go down the 3-cylinder path, like in the previous car. While it was popular among those getting their foot into the junior executive segment, the odd cylinder arrangement meant that it was less refined than it could have been. So with the current 318i, you get instead what is a tuned-down version of the engine found in the 320i, and a little less kit here and there.
I like that BMW has enough differentiation in their line-up, as opposed to the scaled-up/scalded-down approach which Mercedes-Benz is known for, which is also applied to the C-Class. Back to the BMW, even with its base trim, it is pleasing to look at, and instantly recognisable as a 3 Series. The frameless section of the rear door, which is framed by the Hofmeister Kink, is an elegant approach, adding just a little more glass to the side profile of the sedan.
2021 BMW 318i Sport - inside
BMW is beginning to adopt a new seamless single panel housing both the infotainment and instrument displays, and the facelifted 3 Series will also adopt this (which is pretty and neat). I still have a liking for the current placement.
The infotainment unit is powered by BMW’s advanced Operating System 7, which has arguably the best voice command suite among what is currently available among class equivalents.
I could go on about the have-nots in the base 3 Series, but this will be a rather unimpressive one. The 318i has almost the same features you would find in more powerful 3 Series cars on the inside. Apart from the nifty infotainment system, you also get a wireless mobile device charger, which keeps your mobile phone juiced, great when you pair your device for your music playlist. One of my other favourite features, which BMW has also retained, is the Reversing Assistant, which helps you reverse (up to 50m) out of difficult spaces.
2021 BMW 318i Sport - driven
Although the 318i has the lowest power rating here, 156hp and 250Nm is easily more than adequate here. The ZF-sourced 8-speed transmission does a fine job of putting drive through the rear wheels. My only complaint is when you lift off the throttle at low speeds, and then go back on to the throttle, you will experience a brief jerk (and no, I do not mean David Khoo sort), which feels like the engine gets momentarily starved of fuel.
But overall, there is so much you will love here, from how it easily slips into a bend and transitions into the next. The steering is sharp and predictable, and those Pirelli Cinturato P7 tyres on 17-inch rims, hold up surprisingly well. Lug the BMW into an even tighter bend, and all you get is a rear tyre chirp or two, while it simply complies in the direction you point it to… but that is when you add power again, because this gets quite addictive.
There is a part of me that is happy that there is not too much power, as you can milk the best of the engine, without ever feeling that the chassis is going to give way. Having said this, it is not slow, as it does a neat 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds.
If you are one who loves a good chuck-a-chuck around the bends, you could opt for the 318i M Sport instead (for $10k more), as it also comes with a thicker steering wheel (I find the the regular one a little too thin), and you also get lower profile tyres on 18-inch rims.
But with high trending COEs, a junior executive sedan has become rather a costly indulgence. The 3 Series sets you back upwards of $258k*, which is the most expensive, under the C-Class, the latter which costs slightly more. The Lexus IS, which I feel is also a fine driver’s car, gets you into the segment, at around $238k.
*prices accurate at time of publication
PHOTOS Clifford Chow
2021 BMW 318i Sport
Engine 1998cc, TwinPower Turbo
0-100 km/h 8.4 seconds
Top Speed 223 km/h
Fuel Consumption 5.8L/100 km