By on December 12, 2014

218i

You haven’t been able to buy a BMW 318is since L.A. Law was on the airwaves, but BMW just introduced the next best thing. A 3-cylinder BMW 2-Series Coupe.

Jalopnik reports that BMW is introducing a 218i coupe, powered by the 1.5L 3-cylinder turbo mill from the base Mini Cooper. Pumping out 136 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, the 218i is about as quick as an old 318i, hitting 60 mph in roughly 9 seconds. By American standards, this is dreadfully slow for a BMW (even an X1 can hit the speed limit in 6 seconds), but in Europe, where the car will be sold, it’s just fine.

For now, if you want a BMW packing a triple, you have just one option: the i8 supercar.

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98 Comments on “A 21st Century 318is...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Europe only, Ok

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Yep, not missing out on much. My brother had a 318is, and I was very unimpressed in nearly every way. Buzzy and loud, relatively uncomfortable, too spartan, way too slow with AC on (when the AC worked).

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I had two ’91 318is. My favorite BMWs of all I have owned, and I would buy this car in a heartbeat. I’d buy another ’91 if I could find one worth buying. More than fast enough for me, as was the original. The secret is don’t lift. Ever.

        No accounting for taste or lack thereof.

        • 0 avatar
          galloping_gael

          I had a 96 318ti. Great all-around car.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Krhodes1,

          It’s priceless that you’d say the profile gasket E30 is your favorite BMW after the countless times you’ve claimed the new ones are better against all empirical evidence to the contrary. Did someone hit your reset button?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CJinSD

            Most of the M42s got new profile gaskets while they were still under warranty. Never had any issues with it on either of mine, which were bought well used.

            My ’11 will need massively less scheduled maintenance over its life, and I doubt it will have any more random things break over time, and probably less considering there was not a lot to break on a ’91 318is. It is massively faster, and significantly more fuel efficient. It isn’t as much fun, but I would not want to take a trip of any length in the ’91 – it was loud and rough riding. The ’11 will never rust significantly, which both of my ’91s were starting to do when I got rid of each of them. The ’11 is a hugely better car, as it should be with 20 years and 2 generations of progress in-between them.

            So I don’t find it even remotely odd that I can say that the ’91 was my favorite BMW of those I have owned, while preferring my current one as a daily driver. It’s a fantastic car, it’s just not as much fun as the fizzy old 318is. Which would be a grand toy to have in the toybox. The 228i is a very worthy successor, it has the same sort of “let’s go faster” personality.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          The e30 is claimed by many to be the last great small BMW. An FR-S probably approximates it better than a new 218i.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            An FRS is too impractical to be anything like an E30. They were 2dr and 4dr sedans, and full-size humans could squeeze into the back. For that reason the 2-series isn’t really comparable either, being a proper 2dr coupe.

            I think each generation of 3-series had its pluses and minuses, but they were all great cars in their time, and every generation has been better than the last overall.

      • 0 avatar
        SatelliteView

        Corey, you’ll be 100 years old, and there will be 2054 BMW 318, and you’ll bring up this story about your brother 318 to make a judgment on that one. I guarantee it. You are already a very old man, you know that?:)

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Corey will be in his 70s in 2054.

          • 0 avatar
            SatelliteView

            irrelevant. he’s already a very old grumpy man, forever stuck in a narrow time capsule when his consciousness formed.

            This is similar to people who where “octoberists” and “pioneers” (communist youth movements according to age) in USSR in 1960s, or went to KGB school in 1970s (Putin). Although USSR has been gone for 25 years, it still soldiers on in their heads; hence the situation with Russia today.

            Same mechanics are at work in Corey’s head

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            While I do cherish the judgment of a stranger – my opinion forming years were well after the 318 was finished. I will be 68 in 2054.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Corey isn’t grumpy. He’s a guy that likes large plush sedans. The 218 is the exact opposite. Don’t make it more complicated than that.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Spot on!

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            SatelliteView is new he thinks everything we say, we mean

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        When the front ball-joints, rear lower control arms, engine mounts and transmission were not failing my 318i was a decent car.

        Of course all of my Japanese rear wheel drive cars (240SX; G35 6MT sedan, NA Miata, NC Miata) and my 305 HP Mustang V6 were/are always decent.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    I like it.

    One of them slow cars that’s fun to drive fast.

    Bet it handles beautifully.

    I’m just not sold on the 3-cylinder engines quite yet. Although the 1.0L EB has me intrigued.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That could actually appeal to me.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Maybe you can buy the engine in installments, and add the other 1.5L later?

  • avatar
    John R

    For those who MUST MUST MUST have that badge

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      I think there are two ways to look at it: It’s either for those who really need to drive a car with a BMW badge but can’t afford more than a 218i OR it’s for those who truly appreciate the fundamental qualities of a relatively small, light, RWD BMW coupe and they’re willing to look past the lack of power, few options, vinyl seats, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        So, it’s for those who want a BMW without any of the BMW goodies.

        If one is buying a BMW/Audi/Mercedes, it makes sense to load it up decently and enjoy the automaker’s unique and premium tech. I’m not saying every S-Class should be a fully loaded S65 AMG, but isn’t good leather, nav, etc kind of the point of owning a luxury car?

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          No, because low end BMWs are not luxury cars, and never have been. This is a sporty little coupe, and even if it is not very fast it will go around corners very nicely, and have the BMW handling feel that you pay the money for. If all you want are toys, buy a Lexus.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Hmm, strangely appealing. I’d take it over a Fiesta with a 3 banger.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Do we really need a 218i Coupe when we have that 1-Series Coupe already? I don’t see how this is much different, aside from less power.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      Corey, I still miss the good ‘ol days when the selections for BMW were:

      3 series
      5 series
      7 series

      Maybe we can keep the X5.

      Okay, okay… the 850’s were nice, too. Sans the 12 cylinder. I don’t want no 12-cylinder drama.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Their lineup is so complex that they’ve made themselves harder to research nowadays. Try looking for one on Ebay, or cars.com etc. I have no idea how to search for the thing I want, because I’m not sure what it would be called.

        Not that I’d buy a BMW as long as Audi is in existence.

        • 0 avatar
          LeMansteve

          No, it’s easy! Let’s say you want a sedan:

          want a great lease deal? 320i
          want something in stock? 328i
          want a bigger badge number? 335i
          want to get arrested on the way home? M3

          want any of these in a coupe? add 1 to the front of the model number (excl. 320i)
          want to defy the English language and sound fancy when you tell people what you drive? Gran Coupe

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        You know, everyone says “Oh they never replaced the 8.” But they did, it’s just called the 6 now. The 6 coupe is the only car in their lineup which I actually like. I think it’s very sexyful.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t think we’ll have a 1er coupe for much longer. 1’s will be four or five-doors only, just like the 4er is the old 3er coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      Boxer2500

      The 2 series is replacing the 1 series coupe, and BMW has always offered less powerful versions in the EU such as the 116i. The only thing new here is the reduced cylinder count.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There hasn’t been a 1-series coupe in two model years. In Europe there is a 1-series hatch.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I believe you could get an E46 ti, at least in Europe, but yes, they never made one here since the E36/5 318ti.

    I liked the 318ti—the hatchback’s big loading space was appreciated—but you can see why it didn’t make it. It was an E36 in front and an E30 in the back, and there were big improvements between the two generations.

    • 0 avatar
      galloping_gael

      +1. Right on all counts…

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Mechanically it had an awful lot in common with the Z3, which also used semi-trailing arms. The surprising thing about the 318ti was its unique dashboard. It can’t have saved BMW much to create a second dash for the E36, but it did further punish 318ti buyers for not stepping up to a 318is. What they should have done was develop one dashboard for the E36 that was as high in quality as the one in the E30.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The detuned 180hp 2.0 from the 320 would be an appealing engine in this car. But 9 seconds from a BMW? My 5 cylinder VW is about as slow as I’m willing to go, and that is a second quicker than this 218.

    I wonder what kind of fuel economy it gets. With such a wee little engine up front, it may be a sharp handler.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    I’ll stick with my current crop of front double wishbone Civics…

    • 0 avatar

      this is an idea I like. You can probably build every lego combination of desirable honda you want for the cost of one 218i.

      • 0 avatar
        calgarytek

        Well that’s not entirely true. Methinks the 218 will run around $35K in Kanada (if it was ever available).

        If I trade in my 2000 SiR with 110K, for, say 90K EK9 Civic Type R then there’s roughly $10K into the purchase price of a 218. I may be able to hunt down a low mileage Integra Type R (the Japanese version), thought, I’d love to find someone who’s selling one that’s been through the SPOON factory.

        Then I may just have enough cash to import a 80’s Honda Accord Aerodeck. You know, the one with the flip up headlights…

        Still need the CRX Si, and the NSX.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I like the idea but it would need a slightly hotter tune of the 3 cylinder engine for me to be interested. The BMW 3 cylinder can reach 220+ HP so maybe a 170 HP tune would have been a more interesting choice.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Should be a good engine for Europe.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    No sir I do not like it. But I do like the 228i/M235i.

  • avatar
    jsixpack

    I wonder why you’d buy it over the 118d, unless you REALLY want 2 doors… The D has the same 0-60 time and gets something absurd like 50mpg, besides it’s a wagon that’s available with an MT and probably can be ordered in brown….

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “Just under 9 seconds”?

    So, like my Corolla, only with fewer doors and more expensive?

    (I jest a little; I’m *sure* it handles better. And the interior *cannot* be inferior.)

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Lol cars like this draw contrarians like moths to a flame

    No

    9s 0-60 in a car this HEAVY- and yes, it will be heavy; the 228i only loses 230lbs from the M235i and is 3300lbs so this thing will be at least 3100-3200lbs- is not “fun”. Strange that they chose not to at least get the same 100HP/L as the x35i engine, but no matter. In 99% of driving, on the roads with traffic, you will be frustrated just barely keeping up with Honda Fits and getting thorougly stomped by Honda Accords (not even the V6s). On the rare occasions for most when the road gets windy you will be cursing the things weight, thinking about how much more fun you could be having in something with the same power and ~500lbs less weight (albeit driving the wrong wheels).

    I put it like this… for the same money youd have to be smoking crack to pick this over a Fiesta ST. Wrong wheel drive and all its just a much better value proposition

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      God, it would be amazing. If BMW brought these over here they’d sell a ton of them. Cadillac should make a 3 banger ATS if they want to sell more cars.

      • 0 avatar
        baconator

        Infiniti’s experience with the G25 suggests not. Even people who don’t want *high* performance still seem to want a certain level of performance when they pay a certain amount of dough. When you’re leasing at a 2% APR money factor, the cost savings isn’t enough to matter.

        For a 3200-lb daily driver, I’d want at least 180 hp / 180 tq for it to feel adequate. Lo and behold, that’s almost exactly where the 320i is.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I don’t think this 218i has enough oomph for the US market, but it’s worth noting that the G25 failed not because of performance but because it wasn’t available with the features everyone wants on luxury cars. People were stepping up to the G37 because it had nav and heated seats.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      The badge and the ‘right wheel drive’ will help sales, and it’s almost 100 lbs lighter than my previous (2003) CRV which only had 12 horses more, so it should be able to keep up with traffic…

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      With 162lb-ft of torque just off idle, it won’t feel all that slow. having just spent most of a week with a 228i, which was stupid fast by my standards, so this version would be just fine with me.

      Though I agree, for the US a 220i would be about perfect, and I would do it to save a couple grand.

    • 0 avatar
      galloping_gael

      Right. Once that weight/power ratio goes over 20:1, any pretensions to sportiness are gone. The e36 318 models mentioned earlier were 2700-2800 lbs. with ~140HP. That was OK. Right now, I have a 2003 base Cooper with 115HP. It’s fun to flog, but is easily winded.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I owned an E34 and an E36 and I absolutely loved BMW back then. The later had 287k on the odo and still ran like new when I ditched it. They were easy and inexpensive to work on. Anything post E46 I will never own. The performance and styling is there but they are a complete [email protected]#h to wrench on and do not hold up after 75k miles. JMO.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      I agree with you that most modern BMW models are less than meh. The exception is the 2-series – it really is a fun little car in much the same way the E36 and E46 were.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Americans are spoiled rotten when it comes to cheap performance. 9 seconds 0-60 is a very fast car in Europe, where most people buy 1.5 liter diesel compacts with no more than 115 hp, or 1.1 liter gasoline super-minis with around 75 hp and 0-60 in 11-16 seconds. Several countries tax new cars based on engine size and/or power ratings, so smaller engines tend to be much cheaper, while high Euro fuel taxes mean fuel prices are at least twice as high as the States, which again makes the small engines more attractive. Europeans may love the idea of a BMW M2 or M3 or 335i, but they end up buying the 218 or 318 because that is what they can afford to buy and operate.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think I like it, but I’m a European. (According to an alarmingly high number of people my 150 hp CRV is a gasguzzling SUV with way to much power.) The original 318is was a brilliant drivers car for the Norwegian market which excessively punishes displacement and horsepower, and has relatively low speed limits, and a few long straights.
    But, 140 hp from a 1.8 was as little back then (compared to honds 167 hp 1.6) as 136 hp is from a turbocharged 1.5 today, so the Honda ‘fanbois’ can still make fun of the hilariously inefficient german (gas)engines.
    At least it will be RWD, unlike the almost as fast (but waaay more practical)Honda Fit…

  • avatar
    darex

    I have this engine in my F56 MINI Cooper. It’s fantastic! Smooth, punchy, and very fuel-efficient!

    Do not fear the 3-cylinder engine — at least not this one.

  • avatar
    Ihatejalops

    It’s things like these that make me realize that Jaguar, Maserati & Alfa (Cadillac, maybe) have such an opportunity in the “luxury” or premium space and yet they do nothing about it. I swear, it’s the easier marketing job on the planet if someone knew what they were doing to capitalize on the downmarket trends of ze germans. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

  • avatar
    craiger

    My Daytona 675 has 3 cylinders and I really like it. Maybe this 218i will make me forget my dear departed E39 530i.

    /sarcasm off

  • avatar
    sketch447

    So it’ll be a Mini Cooper at BMW prices. The American consumer isn’t that dumb…….there are plenty of vehicles that capture the spirit of the 318 nowadays, and with much better reliability. The upcoming Jeep Renegade comes to mind.

    The Bimmer 318 hback was the right car at the wrong time. It was introduced during $1.75 (or less) gasoline. I loved the thing. At the time, I wished I could afford one.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’m still trying to figure out 2 Series RWD coupe and 2 Series Active Tourer FWD minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Does that make any less sense than calling all of your vehicles MK-something, or that all your vehicle names must start with Q?

      It’s just a name.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        BMW figured out a naming scheme for their sedans, coupes, crossovers and their new electrified line, but forgot to figure out how to name the batch of front wheel drive vehicles they are about to produce.

  • avatar
    Jacob

    So this car has less horsepower than Ford’s 4-cylinder 1.5L Ecoboost, and it hits 0-60 in more time than the bigger and heavier Ford Fusion with the 1.5L EB. Why should we be excited?

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    Interesting tidbit: Adjusted for inflation, the E30 318is is basically the same price as a 228i with Sports Package.

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