UK CAR Road Test

BMW 318i saloon 1998


BMW have been producing the 3 series since the mid 70s in various guises. It has been produced with engines from the 1600 up to the 3.3 and is produced in saloon, coupe, estate and even convertible.  So it's a car which is affordable and built for the mid range market.


In appearance the 1998 318i tested is neat and tidy. It has twin front headlamps with chrome grille at the front. 

The mirror housing is colour-coded with colour-coded bumper aprons. The basic model wheel covers are alloy rims on SE models and both look good. Side mouldings are fitted as standard and suit the body style. The panels on the beemer are of good quality are not too susceptible to car park denting.

BMW what an icon!


The Corsa GLS comes well equipped with a factory tilt-and-slide sunroof, electric windows, power assisted steering, head rests fitted both front and rear (rear rests can be removed to fold the seat backs flat for extra carry space). Height adjustable seat belts are fitted and the drivers seat is height adjusting. The rear seats can be folded down individually for convenience. The external mirrors are electrically adjusted and have heated elements in them for the cold when Mr Frost arrives.

Vauxhall fit a radio cassette player as standard equipment which, of course, is coded for that added inconvenience. Radios can be recoded now by just about anybody and it mesmerises me why manufacturers still security code them. The multi function display is clear to see and the switch controls for the electric windows and mirrors is easily accessed and used by the driver.

The engine powering this car is a 1.0 12 Valve three cylinder transverse mounted unit. It produces 55 bhp and takes the car to 60 mph from standing in 19 seconds It can achieve a top speed of 93 mph and is very efficient on fuel giving up-to 57 mpg. The gear box drives the front wheels and it has five forward gears.

The engine is fully controlled electronically for the best power and fuel ratios, it has a multi point fuel injection system with a catalytic converter fitted as standard. The ignition system is fully electronic and very reliable. Power output for this car is low by standards to which I am used to. The Corsa, however, does drive with acceptable performance. 

I don't like three cylinder engines as I find then a little rough running. They are supposed to be very smooth with the crankshaft being at 120 degrees (but we won't go into that).

The suspension on the car is independent with front McPhearson struts and rear coil springs. This is a good set-up, allowing all wheels the ability to support the car best where and when required. Braking is servo-assisted with front ventilated discs and rear brake drums. 

Power assisted steering is standard on the Corsa GLS model. 
The power assistance on the Vauxhall Corsa is quite different in that it's electrically assisted rather than a pump driven by the engine. However, it takes a short while to work when the car is started. 

General handling in the Corsa is outstanding because the wheels are fitted in the extremities giving the car a low center of gravity and good balance.

Vauxhall have many safety and security features for a small car and they all will assist in the event of an accident.
There is a drivers air bag, the doors have side impact protection and there are pre tensioned front seat belts fitted.
The Corsa is now also like many other makes in that it has a transponder style key which is uniquely coded to the car. If the key is not used to start the car and force or other means are tried, the engine management system will not run the engine. Vauxhall, however, have one of the cheapest and easiest service assistance if the keys do fail. You do not need any master key for duplications. Simply visit your local franchised Vauxhall dealer.

The door locks have deadlocking fitted which is activated with the central locking.

In general the Corsa deserves to sell in such quantities, it has a very reliable motor with gear box which is very rarely found to falter. 

The electronics in most modern Vauxhalls are very good and the general build quality is superior to many larger fleet cars. 

The drive of the car is easy and the road noise is not excessive. For daily use it's an ideal transport option. For long distance driving, however, I would prefer a larger car.





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