mReview: 2023 BMW 318i M Sport – Base Has Never Been Better

Published by on . Updated on 19 May 2024

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The latest BMW 318i iteration shows consumers that base models have never been better. There are no blank switches or unpainted panels here.

In fact, there’s little to visually set this aside from any other variant. The only major difference between it and other 3 series models is what it is packing under the bonnet.

And aside from the rare instances that you need big gobs of power instantaneously, even this isn’t a major deterrent for buyers seeking an affordable BMW saloon.

Familiar Looks

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Our test car comes fitted with the M Sport kit, which really further sells the illusion of it not being the base model. There are no enlarged kidney grilles a la the M3, and the aforementioned M Sport kit has its own unique BMW styling twist.

It employs the use of gloss black plastics in the front grille and in the rear diffuser area, and surprisingly looks very decent. The 18-inch wheels that it comes shod with also fills the wheel arches sufficiently.

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The Melbourne Red metallic this example is finished in bucks the trend of German executive saloons being finished in monochromatic colours, and actually suits the shape of the car really well too.

On the Inside

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In the cabin, it is similar to most modern BMW offerings. It has the same OS8 screen, with the infotainment screen and digital driver’s display housed in a single curved glass assembly. Wireless phone mirroring is also available, and worked throughout the test drive without a hiccup.

Cabin space is decent too. Unless you are ridiculously tall, there’d be sufficient headroom even in the second row - the pros of having a regular saloon instead of a four door coupe. The M Sport steering wheel really lifts the cabin, creating an elevated experience for the driver.

The Drive

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As you’d expect from an M Sport product, the 318i is sure-footed. It is on the firmer side, trading some degree of ride comfort for stiffer, better-handling suspension. Build momentum and it becomes a truly fun car to drive.

You’ll need to work its 2.0-litre four pot a bit harder to get going though, as it only develops 154 bhp and 250 Nm of torque. But the torque converter automatic it has been paired to is a proper unit, and requesting a downshift instantly negates the effects of its lower power output.

Has Base Ever Been Better?

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With good looks and uncompromised equipment levels, the 318i in M Sport guise is perhaps the ultimate starter German saloon.

It drives well, feels properly screwed together and is an uncompromising package for the smart European car shopper. It’s a real shame that COE is as high as it is now, for this would be one fantastic bargain if COE was at a more sensible level!

BMW 318i M Sport Specifications
Price: $337,888  VES Band: A1
Turbocharged inline-four
2.0 litre
154bhp, 250 Nm
8-speed Steptronic
Driven Wheels:
15.4 km/L
8.4 s
Top Speed:
223 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
4,713 mm x 1,827 mm x 1,440 mm
2,851 mm
Cargo Capacity:

All prices are accurate at the time of publishing. 

Photo Credit: Acube Creative (@weareacube)

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