There are plenty of compact luxury cars available in the US today, including the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series, and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. In the '90s, the BMW 318ti tried to offer a similar mix of luxury at a reasonable price, but it never quite found much success in America.

The 318ti looked like an E36-generation 3 Series in front but featured a stumpy liftback at the rear. The only engine available in the US was a four-cylinder. If you had the money, though, the aftermarket was ready to give you more power and more aggressive looks. AC Schnitzer dropped a bored and stroked 3.0-liter inline-six under the hood to create a pocket-sized hot rod, and MotorWeek took it for a drive.

The model in this video was the promo car for AC Schnitzer's US importer, and it had every upgrade possible to show off what the German tuner's produced. Under the hood, the company installed an upgraded engine with 241 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque. For comparison, a US-spec M3 of the era had 240 horsepower and either 225 or 236 lb-ft, depending on the model year. AC Schnitzer also sharpened the 318ti with a suspension overhaul and short shifter. According to MotorWeek's tests, the mods got the hatchback to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds and gave 318ti laudable handling.

So much performance wasn't cheap, though. The upgrades on the promo car cost more than twice as much as the 318ti's base price. Watch this Retro Review to find out the massive amount you needed to pay to get M3 performance in a tiny package.

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