2023 BMW 318i M Sport Review: Sports cars are not just about Power

Lionel Kong
2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

The updated BMW 3 Series sedan gets the usual cosmetic changes, along with the very clever BMW Operating System 8 iDrive

2023 BMW 318i M Sport

Launched: April 2023 – Price: S$298,888 with VES and CAT B COE (April 2023)
Four-door sedan, five seats
156hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, VES B, 6.5L/100km

Very smooth engine
Top class handling dynamics
Feels the part of a luxury car still

Suspension is too choppy for a relaxed drive
Not as fast as you might expect


First revealed in mid-2022, the mid-life cycle update of the BMW 3 Series is an extension of the sales cycle of the car that launched in Singapore in 2020. To casual bystanders it doesn’t look like much has been changed, but the BMW 318i seen here offers quite a different user experience from the earlier version. 

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

It’s standard practice for manufacturers to give cars cosmetic and mechanical updates over the life cycle of the product to keep them fresh in the eyes of the buying public, and as we are now in the period where cars are featuring more software-driven features than ever the cabin’s operating system is factored into this as well.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

The 2023 BMW 318i gets the Operating System 8 iDrive, which features the very wide, panoramic curved display screen that we first saw in the BMW iX electric SUV. It’s still technically two screens mounted into one panel, with the right side featuring the instrument cluster and the main, left side screen carrying the climate control, music playback, and navigation controls. It’s all very seamless however, and BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, with its voice activated operation, is possibly still the best in the business.

There’s complete smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the BMW ConnectedDrive has over the air updates to keep the car up to date.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

Meanwhile, under the hood you’ll find the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the earlier 2020 car, with the same peak power output of 156 horsepower. Realistically, it’s not all that powerful in these times of the 245 horsepower Skoda Octavis RS and Volkswagen Golf GTI, but the BMW 3 Series is still one of the sweetest handling rear-wheel drive sport sedans around and the new 318i continues the tradition.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

Even the Lexus IS300h, a car that admittedly uses the BMW 3 Series as a design benchmark, matches but rarely exceeds the feel of an equivalent 3 Series driven at speed through winding backroads.

As for the 318i, the 0 to 100km/h sprint time is rated at 8.6 seconds, and while not very punchy in the way it accelerates from a standstill the car does it very smoothly and effortlessly through the eight-speed automatic gearbox.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

We found over three days of driving that the economy of the car does vary over a wide range between expressway and urban driving. In slow, city traffic it does average around 12.0l/100km, but it is much more efficient on expressways, and it coasts very smoothly at 90km/h too, seeming to glide on forever like an EV in coasting mode with your foot off the accelerator. The aerodynamics are aided by BMW’s active air intakes that automatically close off the front grilles when the engine does not need any extra cooling air. You can’t feel or see it in operation from inside the car, but it’s there, and when parked all of the car’s front intakes are visibly closed.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

The result is that a highway average of 7.0l/100km is easily achievable. It’s not as good as the officially rated claim of 6.5l/100km, but in our experience that has often been the case in lab results versus real world use.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

Like all BMW 3 Series sedans from before the car’s ability to return driver feedback and composure through corners is the real reason why the car has always been considered a classic amongst driving enthusiasts, even when the luxurious appointments of the cabin have people that “don’t really like driving” aim to own one just because it’s a proper luxury car.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

The 2.0-litre turbo engine is smooth but sensibly quiet, unlike the raucous rumble and hum of the mighty BMW M3’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six. That said, remember that there’s no way you can get the 318i to drive like an M3 sedan, no matter how you try to upgrade it yourself, because despite the ‘3’ in the name they are two very different cars. 

Outright speed isn’t the 318i’s forte, but in the hands of a very good driver it can run rings around more powerful cars when you throw a series of corners into the mix, because the steering is so accurate and the car’s balance is spot on.

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

One of the main visible features of the 2023 BMW 318i are in the headlights, as the now standard fit, adaptive LED light assemblies have a blue highlight on them. The car driven here features the official M Sport kit, which is an additional S$9,000 extra over the base model 318i. Besides the obvious bodykit all round, you also get larger wheels and an M Sport steering wheel. 

2023 BMW 318i M Sport in Singapore

Yet the BMW 318i has become a lot more expensive over the last three years. Rising COE prices and ARF taxes means that the new car costs almost S$100,000 more than the earlier 2020 version when it was launched. Also with smaller BMWs like the 216i Gran Coupe now occupying the lower rungs of the BMW entry ladder, the 3 Series sedan has been pushed further up the chain and has long ceased to be the smallest sedan of the BMW lineup. It’s a great car, but they don’t make selling cars, especially those classed as luxury ones, easy here these days. 

BMW 318i M Sport

Drivetrain type Petrol engine
Engine 1998cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power156hp at 4500-6500rpm
Torque250Nm at 1300-4300rpm
Gearbox8-speed automatic
0-100km/h8.6 seconds
Top Speed223km/h
Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km 
VES Band B / neutral
AgentEurokars Auto / Performance Motors 
PriceS$298,888 with COE and VES 
Availability Now
Verdict The entry into the world of BMW’s rear-wheel driven sports sedan magic starts from this car, and it despite the relatively high price of entry it still delivers on the promise of a really good drive


3 Series 318i bmw m sport

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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