I’ve always had a soft spot for BMW, mainly because of The Hire, an Internet mini-series of eight short films, starring Clive Owen as a driver for hire and his automotive weapon – a BMW in various shapes, sizes and models. Yes, it was mainly an advertising campaign for the carmaker, but the sharp driving and Owen’s slick suiting left me enamoured.
Naturally, when I started getting opportunities to drive the German cars, I always pretended to be Clive Owen, albeit without the gunfights, gangsters and gripping car chases. The new BMW 318i Sport follows the same tradition as an agile, whippersnapper of a drive that happily bounds forward the moment you press the accelerator.
Cornering is precise and there’s a lightness to the steering wheel that makes you feel like you’re in control at all times. Suspension is firm and eats bumps and small stones for breakfast. It might also be BMW’s smallest car, but it’s also reassuringly hefty and grounded when you’re speeding down a straight.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged engine propels its host forward to reach a top speed of 223kph. However, its power output is surprisingly modest, pumping out 156 horsepower and 250nM of torque. Its continental competitor, the Audi A4, boasts stronger numbers (188 bhp and 320nM) at a cheaper price tag.
Still, nothing beats pretending to be Clive Owen, and I’m sure he would approve of the electronic accoutrements – wireless charging, Parking Assistant, BMW digital key and more – that improve the driving experience. Plus, there is more than enough space to transport dodgy packages and the occasional human being despite being the automaker’s smallest model.
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As a whole, the BMW 318i Sport feels exactly like a proper, luxurious BMW and you won’t be left wanting at any point during your drives. The only quibble I have is the down-tuned engine, and it is big considering the extra environmental surcharge you have to fork out when you purchase this car.
However, if you can overlook that (truth be told, it’s more than sufficient for city driving), then the 318i Sport will make you feel like a secret agent. It doesn’t come with a suit, though, but I know a tailor who can replicate the look if you’re so inclined.
BMW 318I SPORT
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four
TORQUE: 250Nm at 1,300-4,300rpm
POWER: 156hp at 4,500-6,500pm
0-100 KPH: 8.4 seconds
TOP SPEED: 223kph