When Excellence Becomes Routine: Driving the BMW G20 318i M Sport

With COEs continuously hitting record numbers, those of us fortunate enough to be in the market for a shiny, brand-new set of premium wheels must have quite the conundrum. Passion over pragmatism, heart over logic, emotions over utility – it is a constant struggle with a myriad of cars to choose from, depending on your inclinations.

To add to that conundrum, we have with us today the updated BMW 318i M Sport. Currently the entry-level variant for those venturing into the world of the 3-Series, this refreshed model brings notable changes for its Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) update. It boasts a redesigned front end, featuring new headlights and grille.

Inside, you’ll find an entirely new dashboard with a curved display that seems to have been inspired, at least visually, by the iX.

On the M Sport models like ours, you’ll also enjoy sportier bumpers, shadow-lined trim, larger wheels, stiffer lower springs, some rather ‘fussy’ silver grille inserts, and an extra thicc steering wheel for that added feel-good girth.

What hasn’t changed, though, are the excellent driving dynamics synonymous with all other BMW 3 Series models. The power output of the 318i remains unchanged, delivering a respectable 154 horsepower and 250Nm of torque for you to play with. In real-world conditions, this power is adequate, providing a substantial push (achieving 100km/h in 8.4 seconds) for convenient overtakes and the occasional spirited drive. However, there comes a point when the 154 horses may leave you yearning for more, particularly because the M Sport chassis feels overly capable of handling ‘just’ 154 horses.

Unfortunately, this excellent handling trait does come with a trade-off. Due to its stiffer passive M Sport springs, comfort takes a hit, particularly during low to medium-speed drives, which can become slightly bouncier than most would prefer. For enthusiastic drivers seeking engagement, this compromise is worthwhile. However, for those planning to use the car for transporting friends and family, perhaps leaving the ‘M Sport’ option unchecked is a more (ahem) comfortable choice.

With excellent rear space and a sizable boot, the 318i M Sport truly shines as a comprehensive choice for those seeking a non-SUV option in this price range. It effortlessly ticks all the right boxes in terms of aesthetics, enjoyable driving dynamics, practicalities, great build quality, strong resale values and even the often-criticized aspect of badge appeal. In short, it stands as a paragon of excellence in its category.

Nevertheless, there is a ‘but.’ With a price tag of S$314,888, sheer excellence may not be enough. After immersing myself in the sublime experience of the 330i Touring, it’s evident that, while the 318i holds a more accessible position on the price scale, it falls short of delivering that elusive ‘X factor’ for the most discerning amongst us. For those willing to stretch their budget a bit further, I’d strongly recommend the i4 eDrive35, though S$35,000 pricier, radiates a deeper level of BMW charisma with an extra touch of BMW magic that could very well be the deciding factor in capturing your heart.

Otherwise, for very similar money, I think there is a curvy Italian in a Giulia Veloce dress throwing glances your way.

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