What's New for 1998
BMW swaps out the four-cylinder engine in the 318 coupe and convertible for a 168-horsepower 2.5-liter inline six -- these cars become the 323is coupe and 323i convertible (why it's "323" and not "325," we'll never know). Meanwhile, the 318i sedan and 318ti hatchback continue on unchanged. All cars get standard side airbags this year, except the 318ti, on which they are optional.
People buy BMWs for a variety of reasons. BMWs carry an obvious panache that tells the world that you have, indeed, arrived. Driving a BMW also tells the world that you are a person who is young at heart, someone who may want to change their own gears from time to time; unlike, say, a stuffy owner of a Mercedes-Benz, Lexus or Cadillac. Lastly, BMWs politely tell people that you like to drive, and to please move out of that left lane so you can pass, thank you.
The BMW 3-Series is now in its seventh year of production. Despite this, the car is still fresh and exciting; evoking powerful feelings of desire and jealousy every time we see one cruising down the street. This year, the big news is the addition of a zippy little six-pot engine for the entry-level coupe and convertible. At 2.5-liters, the new engine makes 28 more horsepower and a whopping 48 more foot-pounds of torque than the four-cylinder engine that is still standard on the entry-level hatchback and sedan. Safety is another concern that BMW addressed in 1998, adding standard side-impact airbags to all of the 3-Series coupes, sedans and convertibles.
The 3-Series is BMW's most popular line of cars because it spans such a broad price range. Starting at just under $22,000 for the fun and cheap 318ti hatchback, the 3-Series reaches its pinnacle at more than $40,000 with the outstanding, high-performance M3 coupe, convertible and sedan. Despite the disparity in prices, the 3-Series models are uniformly fun to drive due to their wonderful chassis, excellent steering and top-notch suspensions.
We believe that the purchase of a 3-Series car is one of the best ways to get know that twisty stretch of road that you were always afraid to introduce to your Buick Century. However, this is definitely not the car for all people, since back seat room is cramped and limited cargo space makes it impractical for large families. But, if you are a person who enjoys driving, the 3-Series is a nice alternative to muscle car machismo. We are thrilled that BMW has exercised restraint in these times of overblown excess. By keeping their revisions to those things that need revising, leaving the core of the vehicle untainted, the 3-Series is able to improve itself, rather than replace itself, every few years.