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Car reviews - BMW - 3 Series - 318ti Sport 3-dr hatch

Used Rivals

BMW logo7 May 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

AUDI A3 4D SEDAN (1997-2004)
BASED on the 1998-2004 VW Golf Mk4, the 1.8 20-valve A3 hatchback is smooth and gentle. Well-equipped, practical, swift and quality-built, it outclasses much of the competition in every department except for handling. It is a competent small hatchback that drives quite nicely. The body went to a five-door configuration from late 1999.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF VR6 5D HATCHBACK (1994-1998)
A HATCHBACK on steroids, it has towering performance from the sweet V6 engine. Entertaining handling and excellent cruising ability complement the practical, well equipped interior but the ride is harsh, the gearchange unsatisfactory and the overall quality not up to VW's usual high standards. It's still a great grand tourer, nevertheless, and an interesting alternative to a BMW 320i.

PEUGEOT 306 GTI-6 3D HATCHBACK (1997-2000)
THE GTi6 has impressive ride and handling, a comfy interior and manic six-speed gearbox which needs stirring to make the most of the engine. The interior is roomy but has a bland dash. The shape still looks good after all these years. The best driver's car here by a long shot.

CITROEN XANTIA 5D HATCHBACK (1994-2001)
UNDERRATED, the Xantia is a sophisticated and versatile hatch. The low-pressure turbo versions are very swift, the V6 smooth and punchy, the regular 2.0 litre models agreeable and the turbo-diesels frugal and torquey. Sure-footed handling, powerful brakes and the trademark pillow ride are further strengths, topped by a classy, comfortable and spacious cabin. The wagons are brilliant.

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