02 January 2012

Should BMW Malaysia introduce an entry-level E90 as a run out edition?

For some (I know I am), the entry to BMW cars signify status, even the model one bought is just an entry level model, cheapest in the range, bare basic in equipment, but wear the blue-while propeller nevertheless. Buying a BMW is never an easy task( albeit easy in buying, but harder in maintaining). Just go ahead to browse any BMW owner forum and look at their cost of replacing simple, small switches!

In that aspect, do you think BMW should introduce a cheaper version of E90 3-Series? After all, this will be the run-out model before an all-new F30 kicks in. In other market, even as close as Singapore, there's still a lower variant than the 320i. It is called 318i. Despite the badging, it is still powered by the 2.0L engine, albeit in detuned 136bhp guise.

For all intent and purpose, it still looks like a real deal E90. With the exception of smaller wheel and puny exhaust tip, and of course the 318i badging, the Singapore spec 318i lacks nothing much from the next-up model in the E90 lineup. In the UK, there's even a 318i M Sport with M Sport bodykit, M Sport suspension as well as 17" alloy wheel in 194M style, wrapped by 225/45 R17 up front and 25540 R17 at the back. You can refer HERE for BMW UK specs.

As for the engine, forget about UK engine as their engine is different, whereby we are stuck with 156bhp 2.0L engine. For our region, the detuned 2.0L for 318i produced 136bhp@5750rpm and 180Nm@3250rpm. It is sufficient to accelerate this sedan to 100 km/h in 10.8 seconds and a top speed of 208 km/h. In this spec at least, based on SGCarmart review, the detuned engine performs its best at low rpm and cruising mode, where the seamless power delivery and gem-slick 6 speed autobox really deliver a soothing ride. Overtaking is not an issue either, with sufficient torque and quick-thinking gearbox that react well to the driver right foot. The only drawback is the raucous engine note when hard-pressed  in pedal to the metal activity.

The interior has been "detuned" as well. Among the features deleted are digital auto air-conditioning control, i-drive and paddle shifter and rear aircond outlet. The substances on the instrument panel are just steering, gear knob, manual aircond knob and slot for MP3 and CD. The front seats are however still powered with 2 memory functions. The split folding rear seat is gone too, but that's hardly a deal breaker.More after the jump.

All in all, if only we live in the heaven like UK, where for each model of the brand, a variety of models are available. But over here, the selection has been dictated by the feasibility of CKD, as well as the "need" to maintain certain prestigious value. Common BMW Malaysia, give us a 318i (preferably in M Sport) as a parting gift for a successful stint of E90 in Malaysia since 2005! It is only for a few months that it will do any harm (if any) to the BMW brand with its associated mega price. Or, even the smooth sailing reputation for petrol BMW really need a preservation, perhaps a 318d M Sport will do?

I think this car will appeal to those who otherwise would choose a 2.4L Honda Accord/Toyota Camry. Selection at this price is limited to those two afore-mentioned, and perhaps a trio of Mazda6 2.5, VW Passat, Pug 508, Ford Mondeo and not much else. I think these people is capable for stretching their budget a bit towards slightly above RM200k. Or perhaps a used E60 make more sense?

A few more photos can be found below:

Photos are from SGCarmart. M Sport referred from BMW UK.