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2023 BMW 318i 156HP Touring Review

Finally, I got my hands on the brand new 3 Series, so let’s explore what’s left of the legend (spoiler: with comparisons to E46).


When you first lay eyes on it, you can’t help but notice the changes made after the facelift. The front is very attractive, sharp, and proudly carries the model’s legendary sporty characteristics. The rear and profile also contribute to the car’s overall appeal, creating a harmoniously attractive vehicle. Admittedly, the G20 may come off as a bit larger than my personal preference, and I wouldn’t mind if it were a tad more compact. But we’re living in an era where cars are growing in size, alongside their price tags.

Handling and Ride

What matters most is how it performs on the road. I am happy to say, the new 3er confidently handles corners and maintains the road grip that BMW is known for. I was particularly impressed by how it stayed firmly planted on the highway, providing a reassuring feeling that’s not that common. What’s even more surprising, compared to older models like the E46, is the level of comfort. The suspension does a fantastic job of absorbing bumps and maintaining silence in cabin on various road surfaces, resulting in a high level of comfort. If I were to nitpick, the suspension noises can sometimes be a bit heavy on the low frequencies, but that might be related to the tires. Other than that, I’m genuinely impressed.

Perhaps the most significant departure from older 3 Series models is the emphasis on comfort. Not only does it handle bumps well, but it also keeps the cabin remarkably quiet, even when cruising at 140 km per hour.

Also, for the lack of better word, the car feels quite organic. The gas and brake pedals offer a well-balanced feel—precise but not overly so. As I remember this was missing in the E46 with an automatic transmission – pedals were weirdly positioned there.


If I were to point out a major area of improvement, it would be the steering. Don’t get me wrong—the car handles corners and the autobahn with confidence. But at lower speeds, the steering lacks the engaging feel I expected from a 3 Series. I was hoping for a bit more connection and directness.

To be fair, it’s possible that I’ve become too accustomed to hydraulic power steering, and this is something that will require more time to adapt to. Still, there’s a sense of a slight lack of directness and tightness, especially near the center axis, an area where older BMWs excelled.

On the other hand, the electric power steering makes the car so much more user-friendly for everyday driving. Maneuvering in the city and parking are effortless, a far cry from the late ’90s to early 2000s era BMWs.

Engine and gearbox

The gearbox also plays its part, operating smoothly and responding well to the accelerator. However, I expected it to be a bit more responsive during kickdown. Weird, in this regard, I don’t see a significant advantage over twenty-year-old gearboxes like the ones in the E46. Sport mode helps, but it could still be faster. Nonetheless, the gearbox is user-friendly, smooth, and suitable for all-around driving. The paddle shifters on the steering wheel feel so good, add an extra layer of fun, with snappy responses that I just love.

The 150-horsepower engine, the least powerful in the lineup, pleasantly surprised me. Given the car’s weight, I didn’t expect it to be this lively or for the throttle response to be so enjoyable. Of course, it’s 150 horses, so I’m not calling it a speed demon. Even when compared to old 200-horsepower Saab 9-3, it’s clear that the BMW is slower. However, for city driving or day-to-day use, this engine just feels quite adequate, likely thanks to the 250 Nm of torque provided by the turbos. All in all, a great package for anyone looking for a well-balanced commuter car.


Now, let’s take a look at the interior. The prominent screen, added after the facelift, is a significant change for me. Without a traditional dash, it doesn’t quite feel right and is too reflective. The user interface isn’t as modern as I’d like, and the gauges have a somewhat questionable appearance.

But beyond this tablet-like screen, the interior as a whole exudes a solid, well-crafted feel. From the door cards to the central console and steering wheel, everything maintains a consistent and high-quality look and feel. No rattles or creaks to be found. I particularly appreciate the central console and the exceptionally comfortable armrest, which I will surely miss when I return the car.

Even the seemingly basic fabric seats surprise with their comfort. The headrest is soft and doesn’t push your head too far forward. In terms of space, there’s ample room for me, apart from the left door panel does which feels a bit too close to the driver. Aside from that, the interior space is just about perfect. Additionally, the Touring version doesn’t disappoint in the trunk space department.

Audio and LED Headlights

Base Hi-Fi system installed in here is better than standard one in E46. Though, still, far from best in class. It slightly lacks clarity and depth in lower frequencies… but it gets the job done.

At night, headlights shine fantastically – with very strong and broad beam. Considering this is base spec model, I am truly impressed. One of the best LEDs I’ve ever experienced.


To sum it up, this brand new 2023 BMW 318I is an all-around mid-sized car that offers enjoyable driving characteristics, great comfort, and ample space. Even with the least powerful 150-horsepower engine, it provides a joyful driving experience. The most significant difference compared to the E46 generation is the increased emphasis on broadly understood comfort (noise, ride, interior space, steering).

Nonetheless, there’s room for improvement. The tablet-like screen could use some refinement, and I expected a bit more precision and directness in the steering. Also, the car could be slightly more compact – my personal preference.

Importantly, questions about long-term reliability remain, and I guess only time will tell if it can match the legendary BMW inline-6 engines from the late ’90s to the early 2000s. 

Link to review on YouTube


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!