The debut of the touring was accompanied by a discreet update of the Saloon, now also featuring the 115 bhp turbodiesel in the 324td opening up a new era in diesel technology: DDE Digital Diesel Electronics revolutionised the ongoing development of the diesel, masterminding exhaust emissions and fuel consumption, noise emissions and motoring culture much faster and more precisely than a mechanical control system. Clearly, this set the foundation for a unique story of success in the diesel world.
Another new engine in the range was the four-cylinder in the 318i, with a smaller bore but 10 millimetres (0.39´´) more stroke. Although the compression ratio was reduced to 8.8:1 in order to run the car on regular fuel, the 1.8-litre power unit, benefitting from modern Motoronic engine control, now developed 113 instead of 105 bhp. A second version of this four-cylinder injection engine followed in 1988, the 1.6-litre developing 100 bhp and replacing BMW’s last carburettor engine through the introduction of the 316i.
In terms of its looks, the updated 3 Series differed from its predecessor by modified tail lights, low-beam headlights in ellipsoid technology, and improved bumpers. The chassis, in turn, featured double-tube dampers and the 325i was equipped as standard with ABS anti-lock brakes.
The last model in this version of the 3 Series with a new engine entered the market a year later – and this was certainly one of the most interesting variants: the 318is. Benefitting directly from BMW’s experience with the M3 both on the road and on race track, this was the first volume-production BMW to feature a four-valve cylinder head. So not surprisingly, this 136 bhp 1.8-litre available only as a two-door model with five-speed transmission was homologated for motorsport just one year later. And at the same time the 318is was the last two-door 3 Series Saloon.Published 19 January 2005