I own three Bimmers, one being a 2002 330xi and the other a 94 318i. Without a doubt the 330 has more grunt in the passing department. But I love the way the 318i drives, and its an automatic. The E36 is a smaller car than the E46 and it handles much more like a go cart around curves than the newer and large Bimmers.
318i owners you should be aware that Dinan has a package out that is cheaper than super or turbo charging your engine. The Dinan package won't add as much HP as turbo's, etc, but it does boost it a bit. Check out the Dinan web site.