UK Car Road Test

BMW 316 Ti Compact 2002

 Movie Clips of this Car

Exterior Movie Interior Movie

 


 

Available as a three door hatchback.

hence a big sporty Golf class competitor. That's VW and not Tiger Woods.

The BMW Compact car is expensive. You can get a lot more in sheer body weight per pound spent with other BMW models. 

Why?

Because.

Small is cute!

Small is cool!

Small is simply a Compact. 'BMW' that is. And the BMW badge sells!

This model is the so called 316, well, not entirely as it has a 1.8 engine. And why does it have a Ti badge when it's not a turbo?

Beats us so in this case , all will not be revealed.

Our opinion of this compact car is as follows.

The Compact appeared at the tail end of the last century, or if you prefer and think it sounds less ancient,in 1999 to be precise, and has since been facelifted into this model with its modern round headlamps and wing shaping to add fine detail to this small member of the BMW stable.

 

Externally, the Compact has quite a few features which make it both a typical BMW and different to other marques. The rear light lenses were evidently before their time. This style of lighting is now very popular in the aftermarket sector for most current makes.

The front lamps are also very distinguished managing to be both aggressive and smart and the prism shape also disperses and focuses the light very well.


The rear of the car has a modest boot spoiler and the bonnet has the standard kidney shaped grille almost like a standardisation flag that flys for current Beemers.

Makers have to try very hard to make a model both acceptable, wind efficient and still appealing to the eye. There are some who seem to put a face to their cars to add personality. If this is the case, then this one looks a little angry, giving what looks like a frown. Or am I simply being too imaginative?

Inside, this little car is typically BMW in looks; the seats are robust and not very exciting to look at, in fact, the rear seating is simply boring and devoid of any features. They are very comfortable however, and give great upright support even though I still find them particularly hideous. The adjustment to the side seems very antiquated and visibly excessive for their application.

The dash is similar to a Tissot watch. It is not a Tag and it's not a Timex. It's simply in the middle and acceptable.
It does keep the instrumentation clear and accurate and appears not to have aged. The clocks have, for some time, been fitted in very similar guise to the 3 and 5 series. Even the BMW LT motorcycle has instrumentation clocks which appear to have originated from the Compact BMW 3 series range.

 

 

 

As with all BMW models, the specification is not outstanding in the base models, you can almost double the cost of purchase price new if you fit too many extras to your car and the Compact range is no exception. This car had wheel covers and not alloys, no front fogs and not a great deal of goodies to entertain yourself with. Considering the cost price, it's a little extraordinary that BMW manage to sell any, bearing in mind that the market sector is one of the most competitive.

It is no secret that BMW margins are greatly improved when the sales invoices are loaded with options. BMW would tempt you with the fact that you could make your new car unique. Why can't they still be unique and start from a higher spec level? Alloy wheels are not surely any more expensive than steel rims complete with plastic covers.

 

Simple switch. Ample cooling.

Effective, if not modern.

The car tested ha air con which was a very simple affair without the frills of climate control or LED lighting. Just air con operated by means of a grey switch on a grey dash. 

The lighting switches are beyond unmistakable and very clear with their intent. Yes, they too are grey. 

The stereo is also grey. It is the BMW Business series and the sound is very good for standard fitment. The speakers are fitted front and rear and the sound system is adjustable to give a good sound whether listening to Chopin or The Clash.
This car was fitted with the option of a multi play CD player in the boot which operated well from the stereo unit. A good feature with the juke box is that it is pretty useless to a thief as the unit will only work in another BMW. Hence. they are not generally stolen which all helps with insurance premium renewals (allegedly though its hard to find any evidence when shopping for a quote).

In general, BMW stereos can be quite unreliable. The FM frequencies have amplifiers fitted in the rear panels, sending the signal from the rear screen forwards to the juke box. I have had experience on more than a few occasions of the FM modulation being of poor quality, especially when the heated rear window is switched on.

When they fail they are very small and likely very cheap to make, but only BMW sell them and they are as expensive as any other after market unit which, of course, will not work in a BMW.

Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front
Electric Windows front
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts

Driving BMW cars is generally a pleasure and the Compact is not an exception. The engine and gearbox are longitudinally mounted, giving drive to the rear wheels. This, in my opinion, adds to the feel and tremendously to the character of the drive. It also gives this little car great balance and superb traction.

The car is badged as a 316 yet the engine is 1796cc. The 318 version simply kicks out even more bhp. This model has a modest 116bhp delivered from this 4 cylinder all-aluminium unit.

Turn the key and start the car cold and the engine is noisy with gas re-circulation and general exhaust noise. It quickly quietens down, though, and become acceptable. Once warm, it idles very sweetly indeed for a four cylinder unit.

Revvy 16V technology.

Simpler than it looks.

Driving the car is engaging. Turn the key and the electronically controlled thoroughbred (or, at least, cousin of one) comes enthusiastically to life. Depress the very light and easy clutch, select a very slick and easy first gear slowly, release the clutch with moderate accelerator pressure and you're off. Even a poor learner driver could drive this car well. 

Once rolling along, you do notice that the engine is quite positive and prepared for whatever you request of it. The accelerator is quite a long travel; if you depress it for a distance and long enough for the rpm to climb over 4,000, it executes its task very well, providing plenty of performance and lively acceleration.

The Compact is light with a good power to weight ratio. It is very smoooooth. In my opinion, much smoother than any Toyota VVTi or Honda VTEC, giving much more torque when spinning slowly and coming to life when exposed to high rpms. I find most high revving engines to be a little coarse and even rough and unbalanced. Not this one; it must have been produced by a silk worm's relative.

The gearbox is also excellent. The selection is ultra smooth without any unnecessary force being required for any forward gear. Reverse does require a little push to prevent accidental selection of first gear. The combination of the gearbox and engine is very credible indeed.

From the engine, through the gearbox, down through the prop shaft and into the diff, it's all craftwork - no shudders or imbalance effective and positive. Standard BMW trademark stuff.

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
15000 11 Not Available Band (C)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC 116 1796 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 None
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
122mph 10.9seconds 85
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
29.1mpg 53.3mpg 40.9mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1375kg 1260kg 426cm 194cm 138cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
300 Litres 1100 Litres 5

 

BMW are outstanding manufacturers of motor cars and the technology used in the modern ranges is second to none. Combine the size of this car with the all round independent suspension, powerful ABS braking and an intricate steering and suspension system and you are guaranteed a fabulous carriage.

Well, not entirely as not everybody would enjoy the drive. It's firm and very receptive and some folk don't like driving cars that are so reactive.


I think, personally, that it is frankly admirable. The car is balanced better that a market trader's scale, it has road holding better than a train and it is more manoeuverable than a London taxi on account of the rear wheels giving the drive, and the front being left to focus on the steering, stopping and the road holding. The Compact is very stable at low and high speeds.

In the city it is civil and at speed, on the motorway or open roads, it's very capable of excess velocity whilst staying calm.

When accelerating it keeps very level without pitching front to rear. Around corners it is sure-footed and precise. This model does not have the bhp to really challenge the setup but it would take a whole lot more to do so, even in its standard dress code.

Stopping this car is like any other BMW, the brakes are very powerful but you do need to take part and apply quite firm pressure to the middle pedal which must be a German trait because the steering is the same. 

Whilst most makers are fitting city steering and progressive steering which take away all driving sensations, BMW are keeping it real. You get fabulous feedback and inspiring confidence to drive faster and draw pleasure from your journey. Cars are made better every year, taking away any sensation of speed and road conditions, thus reducing engine, road, suspension, wind and tyre noises. 

The cars are also made to perform with minimum driver input or ability which is all very well if you simply commute daily and your name is Daisy, in which case you should use the train. 

Cars are machines that can be used as an assertion of fun and gratification but this is not achieved by removing the task of driving them and the BMW technicians should be greatly credited.

This Compact, like others, does remove the sense of speed with reduced wind and tyre noise as well as giving the driver great feedback and a heartening sense of stability.


Automatic Stability Control
Automatic Stability Control
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Service Level Indicator
Service Level Indicator
Traction Control
Traction Control
Wheel Covers
Wheel Covers

 

Safety features are constantly improving and BMW are in line with other makes, moving at a great rate of knots with improvements. The Compact has airbags everywhere - the driver's is small and not obtrusive at all, the front passenger airbag is very well concealed above the glove box and the windscreen pillars are home to even more. The pillars remain admirably slim unlike the current fashion for big thick girder like objects fitted to many cars. This gives good visabilty benefits, as well as seductive looks. On impact, the car would be like November 5th but better with than without. 

The car has side impact protection which is basically strengthening bars running through the doors and quarter panels. The chassis or body is designed to absorb impact from a multitude of directions, the body itself being designed to provide structural strength from impact. Very clever indeed and extremely beneficial in the event of any high speed impact.

For a small car the rear seats are equipped with three 3-point seat belts and three head rests for passenger comfort and anti whiplash protection. As with most cars, though, I find the centre rear headrest restricts the rear vision through the mirror.

Security on all current BMW cars is excellent. Strong door locks, active alarm systems and complicated immobilisers secure your car and protect it from unwanted users so that stealing one is very difficult' Therefore, you need to have a key to drive one away. Which is great if you own one but the Compact is not exactly top dog in a thief's selection box so you are likely not to experience any problems.

Therefore, any potential thief would need to mug or burgle you to take your car away. Or simply be a member of the BMW franchised network and that in itself provides a thought to consider - just call into any franchised BMW dealer, pass over your ignition key and all of your car's information is there on computer - reg number, VIN number, key details etc, and that means a lot of people have access to your car's security details. There only has to be one or two with criminal friends offering rewards for keys and the car you own could be gone as quick as it takes you, the owner, to start it.

Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Central Locking
Central Locking
Deadlocks
Deadlocks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

 

So what do I think of this Compact BMW?

Starting with its best attribute - it drives superbly. It's also well balanced and offers great driver feedback and is reasonably credible in looks. 

And that's about it for me, personally.

It is better than most Jap cars in its class but I can think of many European cars I would prefer. 

This 1.6 Ti would set you back as much as a 1.8T Audi Sport A3 which would out perform it with ease. In my opinion, the Audi looks much better and offers the same street credibility. Then there is the legendary Golf  GTi range. A GT 130bhp diesel drives better than this Compact and costs incredible amounts less to run and service, plus the Golf costs less to buy and keeps its value comparably.

The boot is spacious with the spare wheel being a space saver, allowing more room for the weekly shopping

 Even the multi play CD is neatly stored away in the NS rear quarter panel.

 

And so to the conclusion:

It performs very well in all conditions and is very reliable and fuel efficient. I accept this point and if that is what you like, then you will like this car and I can't disagree with you. However, I will add that I cannot justify the cost price and the exorbitant service costs from the BMW franchised dealerships. Labour rates of 1 per minute are clearly a rip-off and charges for lubricants and filters match the labour prices. 

Acquire a fault light on your dash and BMW will charge you 45 plus VAT just to plug in the diagnostics which is another rip-off as the time taken is 5 minutes! It takes longer to write the problem down than it takes to plug in the ODBC equipment.

I know that most other recognised marques are similar and that companies need to be profitable. I also know that I can afford to pay these kind of charges but still feel very bitter at the thought of doing so as this Compact is a non-specialsied car. I am insurgent about owners clubs and anything which may tie me to one product. I don't want to be part of the BMW team; I want to buy a car, not the badge. I accept that some do want this kind of relationship with the car makers but I have to ask why?

This considered, I would choose another car and not a Compact. If this was an M5 or similar class, I could be more accepting of the total package along with the costs. BUT it's a Compact and better and worse in many ways to it's rivals.

12 V Accessory Power Point
12 V Accessory Power Point
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows

 

 


 

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UK Car Road Test BMW 316 Ti Compact 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: hatchback sports316 Ti Compact