When I saw this car, it was love at first sight. It is 11 years old and it's still one of the best looking cars on the road. I was so obsessed with it that I ignored the signs that this car might be trouble.
The car is quite comfortable. It is fairly easy to find a good driving position despite the lack of tilt-steering. However, on longer trips you'll have to move around quite a bit to keep from getting sore. This car has ergonomics in mind, but is not even and entry-luxury.
The performance is lacking, but quite reasonable from a 1.8L engine. You can manipulate the 5 speed gearbox enough to make your ride interesting, but if you want power, try the 325i. Another route is to go to the aftermarket and look at superchargers/computer chips, but by the time you put money into that you could be driving a 325i, which is a nicer car anyway.
Put simply, the stock sound system is terrible. It is a 6 speaker system, but it totally lacks any low-range response. I'm not the type to drive around with bass you can hear down the block so I'm not expecting too much. It's just that the original speakers are very cheap.
The handling on the 318i is awesome! It will whip around corners with confidence, but due to the lack of traction control you can cause the back-end to come loose with a little throttle. It is also a fairly comfortable ride at the same time, dealing with rough pavement with an abundance of poise and refinement.
This is not a quiet car by any description. You always know the engine is there, especially at highway speeds - At 120km/h the engine is at 3500rpm in 5th gear.
There's a full-sized spare tire!
If you buy this car, make sure it has been dealer serviced, I can't stress that enough. Then take it to your mechanic anyway. Main concerns are body rust and oil leaks.