BMW model designations

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BMW uses an alphanumeric sequence to designate differences in its automobiles. For example, a 325i is a 3 series with a 2.5 liter engine, and is fuel injected. A 635Csi is a 6-series with the 3.5 liter engine and is a fuel injected sports coupé.

The designation can be broken into 3 parts: i.e. 325Ci is 3 + 25 + Ci (Vehicle Class, Engine Size, Add'l information)

Contents

1st number: Vehicle Class


Modern designations:

Traditional 3+ number system:

  • 1** - Compact Entry-Level Series
  • 3** - Mid-size class (Sedan, Wagon, Coupe, Convertible)
  • 5** - Full-size 4-door class (Sedan, Wagon)
  • 6** - Full-size 2-door class (Coupe, Convertible)
  • 7** - Large Luxury 4-door sedan

2-number system:

  • M* - Sports variants
  • X* - SAV (Sport Activity Vehicles)
  • Z* - 2-seater class

2nd / 3rd numbers: Engine Size


Traditional 3+ number system:

  • The two numbers traditionally designate engine size: *18 = 1.8-liter engine, *25 = 2.5-liter engine...

2-number system:

  • The 2nd number designates the class:
  • M3 is a sports variant on the 3-series (M5 on the 5, M6 on the 6)
  • X3 is an SAV at the 3-series class level (X5, X6)
  • Z3/4 are 2-seaters based on the 3-series level (Z4 came from the talks to convert all 3-series coupes and convertibles to 4-series)
  • Exceptions: M1 was a mid-engine supercar from the 1980's; Z1 was the original Z-car; Z8 was a limited-production supercar
  • Additional Exception: Beginning in 2007, the 3-series were designated 328 for the normally aspirated 3.0 liter and 335 for the twin-turbo 3.0 liter.

Suffixes


  • Cd - Diesel coupe
  • Ci - Fuel Injected coupe
  • Csi - Fuel injected sports coupe
  • CSL - Coupe Sport Lightweight
  • d - Diesel Vehicle
  • e - ETA model: Fuel efficient cars with lower-revving engines. This meant more torque due to shorter stroke .
  • es - ETA: Sports ETA model with sports package
  • g - Biogas
  • i - Fuel injected
  • iA - Individual Edition
  • ic - Fuel injected cabriolet and convertible models
  • is - Fuel injected sports: Sports package with better suspension, sway bars, etc. On E36 BMWs it meant the car was a two door, but can be also a four door (sedan) it had a sport package as is commonly believed
  • iT - Fuel injected touring. BMW's station wagon
  • iX - Fuel injected all-wheel drive
  • xi - All-wheel drive sedan/coupe (post 2001)
  • L - Luxury (pre-E32), Long wheelbase (post-E32)
  • M - Motorsport
  • t - Hatchback or turbo charged engine
  • Ti - Fuel injected touring compact
  • Tii - Fuel injected touring international

Motorcycles

BMW Motorrad, the brand name for BMW's motorcycles, uses a logical system of model designations, similar to the one described in this article. For more information see History of BMW motorcycles.

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