BMW 316i (1992)

Some months after the launch of the rest of the 3 series, the bottom of the range BMW 316i has, at last, arrived.

It’s a somewhat curious decision for any car maker to delay the launch of the entry level model, particularly as the previous 316i accounted for a sizeable chunk of the total range sales, some 40%. But at last the junior Bee Em is on the streets and sales are already picking up and look likely to be on a par with it’s predecessor, a fact which is hardly surprising as the 3 series is an altogether good range of cars and has been uniformly well received by press and public alike.

For the very reasonable amount of money being asked the 316i offers all of the traditional quality of the famous German marque with very little diminution of the many features offered by it’s higher priced brethren.

A stylish, smooth, design which offers great passenger comfort and lots of room with the good aerodynamics aiding the very high build quality in creating a notably quiet travelling environment.

The seating is simply excellent, comfortable, supportive and fully adjustable, one very important part of the total equation which produces a good workplace for the keen driver, the dash being an ergonomic masterpiece, offering both clarity and good, easily reached, controls.

The 4 cylinder, injected, 1600cc engine is very smooth and whilst not offering stunning performance in a car of this bodyweight the 316i is no slouch either, the 100 b.h.p. engine quietly and rapidly picking up the pace all the way to it’s rev limit, by which time the car is travelling very quickly indeed.

Motorway travel is very smooth, stable and remarkably quiet, a tribute to both good engineering and careful sound deadening.

As much of a treat as the engine is the slick 5 speed manual gearbox with ratios which are very complementary and which is very enjoyable to use, every shift being quick and clean.

Inevitably some of the usual BMW trappings are missing but the standard specification is very good for the price offering central locking, power steering, power front windows, power mirrors, A.B.S. and a catalytic converter all as standard along with a lot of other good features from the higher cost models, for example the first aid kit and rechargeable torch.

Good, precise, handling is only to be expected from any BMW and the 316i certainly doesn’t disappoint in this respect, from the crisp, well weighted, steering to the inherent stability and poise of the suspension package, all backed up by secure, progressive, braking.

As a car for the middle manager / junior executive or for the family man who is a keen driver and wants something a little bit special with the cachet which the German marque certainly has, the 316i is a fine drive at a reasonable price, excellence at a knock down price.


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First Published 1992 – Article © Graham Benge 2007

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