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BMW 318i Sport review

What is it?

THE BMW 3 Series is 40 years old this year; to celebrate and keep it ahead of more modern rivals such as the Jaguar XE, Munich has launched a revised range.

Interestingly, the 318i is the entry-level petrol model in the revised range and despite the badge, it’s powered by the same 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol that was first fitted in the MINI Cooper–with the same 134bhp.

So, is the BMW 318i petrol a better business buy than the BMW 320d diesel – we hit the road to find out in our BMW 318i Sport review car.

What’s hot?

  • Okay, so the current sixth-generation BMW 3 Series might not be the most distinctive in a 40 year volume- but it still looks sharp and sporty. Points are also scored for spotting the face-lift changes, as on first look, it seem that BMW designers have wisely left the 2012 design well alone. On closer look, you’ll probably spot the new front and rear lights and bumpers.
  • Inside, like the outside, you’ll be struggling to spot the changes over the pre-facelift car – piano black and chrome highlights are the order of the day here. Still as they say, if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it! Facelift mods or not, the 3 Series’ interior is spacious enough and it’s hard not to be impressed by the quality and driver-focused feel to the interior.
  • It might be the entry model in the range, but hit the road and even in petrol form, it’s easy to see why the 3 Series is the driver’s choice. The 318i might have just 134bhp, but thicker anti-roll bars and stiffer suspension, plus the same responsive steering and the necessary optional M-Tech suspension and you’ve got a keen, virtually roll-free drive.
  • The 134bhp version of the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine doesn’t feel as keen to perform as the chassis. However, work the excellent six-speed manual gearbox harder and you’re able to make decent progress. For a three-cylinder it stays remarkably refined right the way through the rev-range too. Acceleration to 62mph takes 8.9 seconds and the top speed is 130mph. Combined consumption is 52.3 mpg, the 318i falls into the 19% company car tax band with 124 g/km CO2 emission figures.
  • Sport isn’t quite at the top of the 3 Series specification pile, but it includes air-conditioning, 18-inch alloys, sat-nav, keyless go, stop/start and parking sensors – but you pay for it, as even without all the BMW press car options, the £25,275 list price is still steep.

What’s not?

  • It might be smooth and willing, but like other models fitted with three-cylinder engines and the capable chassis, we reckon you’ll struggle getting the 52.3 mpg economy.
  • Options such as the leather trim really improve the premium feel of the 3 Series’ interior, but at over £1,200 it adds some cost to the P11D value.

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