Used 1996 BMW 3 Series Hatchback

1996 BMW 3 Series
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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

BMW has added an M3 model to the 3-Series lineup for 1995, and it's been winning rave reviews from the press and public. The M3 has a 240-horsepower inline six purring away under the hood, suspension modifications designed specifically for the war-torn roads of America, huge brakes, and supple leather seats; all for less than $40,000. Sadly, a sedan version is not planned for the U.S.

Also new this year, a BMW hatchback based on the 3-Series. Called the 318ti, it's priced evenly with the Volkswagen GTI, though performance levels fall a bit short of those of the vaunted VW. Identical to the 318i from the A-pillar forward, the 318ti should win the hearts of younger, less-affluent buyers looking for Germanic sporting fun.

The rest of the 3-Series line carries over for 1995, which is no bad thing. This BMW has won the favor of driving enthusiasts everywhere for its capable handling, first-class ergonomics, and classic styling. Prices start right around the $25,000 mark, just $5,000 above the average price of a new car in the U.S. The 325i and 325is, two of the three performers in the lineup, do have base prices that are a bit higher.

Bottom rung 318's are powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, while midrange 325 cars have a 189-horsepower six doing the motivational work. All 3-Series models have dual airbags and antilock brakes, and six-cylinder cars get optional traction control. Sedans, coupes and convertibles are the available body configurations.

For the money, BMW's 3-Series is tough to beat for sophistication, safety and performance, particularly in M3 guise.

1996 Highlights

BMW's highly acclaimed 3 Series receives new engines across the board. The six-cylinder models drop the 325 designation for 328, thanks to a new 2.8-liter inline six. While the new six offers a negligible gain in horsepower (now 190), acceleration is significantly improved by a 14 percent increase in torque (now up to 207). To go along with the heartier engine, 328 models get vented rear disc brakes to minimize brake fade. The 318 models keep the 318 name despite an increase in engine displacement to 1.9 liters, which yields a slight increase in torque. Automatic climate control is standard across the line, except in the 318ti, and upgraded sound systems are optional on all models.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 BMW 3 Series.

Great Value...
BigMikeyP, 5/8/2006
This is possibly the most reliable car made in the last 20 years. Mine has 193K miles and has yet to have any major mechanical problems. It has never broken down and I don't detect a drop in performance. Its not a great long distance car as it can ride a little stiff. The other problem is noise at 70+ mph. It can also get lite in the rain, especially at high speeds. Interestingly enough, it seems unstable at 70mph (dry road) but sits down nicely and rides beautifully at 85+mph. Clearly a car built for the autobon. My parting though is that I love this car and intend to drive it for another 60+K miles.
Better than any jap 4 cylinder
Justapanda, 3/1/2002
The 318ti is one of the best four cylinders on the market..besides s2000 and other really new sport jap cars. But the ti is a great car...its all about speed...guys love it and ladies wanna be there for it. The car handles like a dream...although at times at high speeds like over 75 mph wind noise can be annoying but everything else is solid.
Best BMW on the Market for the dollar
Wolverine, 5/31/2002
I have loved my 318ti from the moment I drove it off the lot. Crisp handling, great styling, awesome cargo room with the seats folded down. All this for $22,000 new. It's still worth at least $11,000, and worth every penny.
Best Deal for Cheap Wheels
Asian Persuasion, 7/28/2002
Here I am sportin' my latest automobile acquistion. A 1996 BMW 318ti. I took this little white gem out for a spin after calling the selling party, in what seemed to be a deal that was too good to be true...$7200.00. No dents, perfect paint, everthing works! No argument here as it looks pristine! On the road it performed flawlessly as I flogged it on turn after turn. This vehicle handles! This vehicle is a nostaligic reminder of my old BMW 2002. I had the most fun in that car and the 318ti, in my opinion, is the spiritual successor brought up to current standards of crash worthiness and reliablity. Here's to another love affair with a car!
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Features & Specs

20 city / 29 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
138 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 1996 BMW 3 Series Hatchback features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 BMW 3 Series
Used 1996 BMW 3 Series Hatchback Overview

The Used 1996 BMW 3 Series Hatchback is offered in the following styles: , and 318ti 2dr Hatchback.

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