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The 318i was one of the longest-serving E30 models, running in various guises from the 1983 launch to 1994.



Taking second place in the line-up, the 318i was one of the original models in the E30 range at the official 1983 launch. Slotting in neatly between the feeble 316 and cruising 320i, it was aimed at performance-conscious buyers on a budget, and sold extremely well because of that. The wind-up-and-go injected M10 engine offered 110hp, which was more than enough to propel the car at a jaunty pace, while the option of two or four doors gave it an appeal to singles and families alike. It was, in essence, the bread-and-butter E30.

In 1987, prior to the facelift, the venerable M10 donk was replaced with the brand new M40 engine. This new four-pot motor was a completely new design, belt-driven and using the new Motronic engine management system. It didn't change the power output, but fuel economy was marginally improved and a lot of the problems associated with mechanical injection were removed, making the M40 a simpler fix. To complement this increased refinement, 318i's from this period normally have features like power steering and electric windows as standard.

Towards the end of the production run, BMW introduced the LUX package for 4-cylinder models which gave the 318i, together with the 316i, a large number of items from the options list as standard, although no changes were made to the performance of the car.


Because of the two engines fitted to the 318i over its production run, cars should be treated as completely different models for pre- and post-1987 versions. The M10 engines are based on a Jetronic engine management system, while M40 engines use Motronic. Nothing is interchangeable between these two engines, and nor are the gearboxes, although the differentials can be swapped over if different ratios are required.

All saloon cars feature standard 45mm struts, solid front brake discs and rear drums. Touring and Cabriolet models were only made in M40 guise, and these will have the stronger suspension and better brakes.

General Info

Please also see the E30 318 Register