Product Type: BMW cars
Newest Review: ... keeping all the receipts as service history. Parts were cheap but good quality from ECP, and the 318iS not difficult to work on for ... more
BMW E36 318iS Coupe
Member Name: th0mas25
Advantages: Great value, good looks, quick, and surprisingly practical and cheap to run
Disadvantages: Really good ones are getting harder to find
The BMW 318iS was available in the older E30 shape from approximately 1989-91 and then the E36 shape until around 1999. The earlier car was based on a 2 door saloon body and the later car came as 2 door coupe or 4 door saloon. Good E30 models are now fairly rare, as are the later E36 Saloon models as they were built in quite small numbers. The E36 Coupe was the most popular and there are still many around. My review is based on the E36 Coupe as I owned a late '96 (P-reg) model for 5 years from 2003 to 2008.
My '96 318iS was actually one of the first 'facelift' models. The E36 didn't change shape much but around '96 it got slightly wider kidney grilles on the front, and a 1.9 litre engine. I looked for one with the M-Sport pack too, this consisted of 16" twin-spoke alloys, M-Sport bumpers, skirts and side-strips (just like the M3), leather steering wheel, handbrake and gearknob, half-leather (the other half being anthracite cloth) seats and black headlining. Mine also had a boot spoiler, another optional extra. It also had remote central locking, electric windows, mirrors and sunroof, and original BMW radio-cassette with 6 disk multichanger in the boot. I loved the was the car looked, and in five years the only modifications I made was a chrome tailpipe, a white indicator kit as fitted on later M3s, and some lowered uprated springs, although that modification was borne out of necessity as one of my rear springs broke (a common problem apparently) and so I replaced the lot.
The car was great to drive, with 143bhp it was fairly quick, it handled extremely well (especially with the uprated springs), it was comfortable and surprisingly good on fuel, I often calculated my miles per gallon on various trips and this would average around 38mpg, which really isn't bad. I also enjoyed the car being rear wheel drive, but I was used to it having previously owned another BMW (E30 316i). I also found the car really practical, it would seat 4 in comfort, 5 at a push, and whilst the boot opening wasn't that big, the boot itself was very spacious, the rear seats even folded down (most don't in a coupe) so longer items could be carried easily. Maintenance costs were minimal, my car was very reliable and apart from routine services, tyres, brake pads etc. the only issues I had were the broken rear spring, and having to replace the rear trailing arm bushes for an MOT (again, a fairly common wear & tear issue and not expensive to fix). I did all the servicing and maintenance myself, using parts from 'Euro Car Parts', keeping all the receipts as service history. Parts were cheap but good quality from ECP, and the 318iS not difficult to work on for anyone with basic mechanical skills or a have-a-go attitude :o)
I still miss my 318iS, I only sold it as I'd had it for five years and wanted a change and fancied a BMW touring to carry my drums, bikes etc. (the coupe could carry most things, but you'd have to dismantle bigger things to get them in the boot). It was my second BMW, and I now have a third, an E46 318i Touring. I'd highly recommend a 318iS to anyone, as they can now be had for £1000 upwards. I would recommend spending as much as you can on the best car you can find though, a late one, with few owners, a lower mileage, plenty of history, and as standard as possible. And, if you can find it, one with the M-sport pack. You'll love it!
Please note: My rating is based on MY experiences with MY old 318iS. If you don't do your homework, and buy a thrashed/dodgy/unreliable/rusty one, then your opinion may differ. Buy a good one though and I hope you'll have the same experience as me :o)
Summary: I want my old iS back now :o(