BMW 3 Series

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BMW 3 Series
2019 BMW 330i M Sport 2.0 Front.jpg
Body and chassis
ClassCompact executive car (D)
PredecessorBMW 02 Series

The BMW 3 Series is a compact executive car manufactured by the German automaker BMW since May 1975. It is the successor to the 02 Series and has been produced in seven different generations.

The first generation of the 3 Series was only available as a 2-door sedan, however the model range has since expanded to include a 4-door sedan, 2-door convertible, 2-door coupé, 5-door station wagon, 5-door hatchback ("Gran Turismo") and 3-door hatchback body styles. Since 2013, the coupé and convertible models have been marketed as the 4 Series, therefore the 3 Series range no longer includes these body styles.

The 3 Series is BMW's best-selling model, accounting for around 30% of the BMW brand's annual total sales (excluding motorbikes).[1] The BMW 3 Series has won numerous awards throughout its history.

The M version of the 3 series, M3, debuted with the E30 M3 in 1986.[2]

First generation (E21; 1975–1983)[edit]


The E21 replaced the 02 Series and was initially available as a 2-door sedan (also described as coupe).[3]

At launch, all models used carburetted 4-cylinder engines, however fuel injected models were introduced in late 1975 and 6-cylinder engines were added in 1977. A cabriolet body style – manufactured by Baur – was available from 1978 to 1981.

Second generation (E30; 1982–1994)[edit]

E30 coupé
E30 coupé

On introduction in 1982, the E30 was produced solely in the two-door sedan body style. Four-door sedan models were introduced in 1983, convertibles were introduced in 1985 and estate ("Touring") models were introduced in 1987.

The E30 was the first 3 Series to be available in wagon and four-door sedan body styles. It was also the first 3 Series to offer a diesel engine, and all-wheel drive was introduced to the 3 Series range with the 325iX model. The BMW Z1 roadster was based on the E30 platform.

The first BMW M3 was built on the E30 platform. The E30 M3 is powered by the high-revving S14 four-cylinder petrol engine, which produced 175 kW (235 hp) in its final European-only iteration.[4]

Third generation (E36; 1990–2000)[edit]

E36 sedan
E36 sedan

The E36 was sold in the following body styles: sedan, coupé, convertible, wagon (marketed as "Touring") and hatchback (marketed as "3 Series Compact").

The E36 was the first 3 Series to be offered in a hatchback body style. It was also the first 3 Series to be available with a 6-speed manual transmission (in the 1996 M3), a 5-speed automatic transmission and a four-cylinder diesel engine. The multi-link rear suspension was also a significant upgrade compared with previous generations of the 3 Series.

The E36 was named in Car and Driver Magazine's 10Best list for every year it was on sale.[5]

The M3 model is powered by the S50 and S52 straight-six engines. It was sold in coupe, sedan and convertible body styles.

The BMW Z3 roadster and coupe models were based on the E36 platform.

Fourth generation (E46; 1997–2006)[edit]

E46 sedan
E46 sedan

The E46 was sold in the following body styles: sedan, coupé, convertible, wagon (marketed as "Touring") and hatchback (marketed as "3 Series Compact").

The E46 generation introduced various electronic features to the 3 Series, including satellite navigation, electronic brake-force distribution, rain-sensing wipers and LED tail-lights.[6][7][8] All-wheel drive, last available in the E30 3 Series, was reintroduced for the E46. It was available for the 325xi and 330xi sedan/wagon models.[9][10] The E46 was the first 3 Series to be available with an engine using variable valve lift ("valvetronic").

The M3 version of the E46 was powered by the S54 straight-six engine and was available in coupé and convertible body styles (other than that, it was powered with the M54 in non-M3 cars). The transmissions available were a 6-speed manual or the 6-speed "SMG-II" sequential manual gearbox.[11]

Fifth generation (E90/E91/E92/E93; 2004–2013)[edit]

E90 sedan
E90 sedan

The fifth generation 3 Series was produced in the sedan, wagon, coupé and cabriolet body styles. Due to the separate model codes for each body style, the term "E9X" is sometimes used to describe this generation of the 3 Series.

In 2006, the 335i became the first 3 Series model to be sold with a turbocharged petrol engine. The E90 also saw the introduction of run-flat tires to the 3 Series range. Consequently, cars with run-flats are not equipped with a spare tire.

The E90/E92/E93 M3 was powered by the BMW S65 v8 engine. It was released in 2007 and was produced in sedan, coupe and cabriolet body styles.

Sixth generation (F30/F31/F34; 2011–present)[edit]

F30 sedan
F30 sedan

The F30/F31/F34 has been produced in the sedan, station wagon and 5-door hatchback ("Gran Turismo") body styles. A long wheelbase sedan is also available in China.

For the F30/F31/F34 series, the coupe and convertible models were split from the 3 Series and sold as the BMW 4 Series. A new body style was introduced into the 3 Series range: the 3 Series Gran Turismo, a long-wheelbase hatchback.[12][13][14]

The F30/F31/F34 was the first time that the entire 3 Series range used turbocharged engines. In 2016, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain was first used in the 3 Series, in the 330e model.[15] Also in 2016, a 3-cylinder engine was used for the first time in a 3 Series.

The M3 version (designated F80, the first time an M3 has used a separate model designation) was released in 2014 and is powered by the S55 twin-turbo straight-6 engine.

Seventh generation (G20; 2018–present)[edit]

G20 sedan
G20 sedan

The BMW 3 Series (G20) was unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show on October 2, 2018. The official images of the vehicle were revealed a day prior to its unveiling.

M version[edit]

F80 M3
F80 M3

The M3 is the most powerful version of the 3 Series, developed by BMW's in-house motorsport division, BMW M.

M3 models have been derived from the E30, E36, E46, E90/E92/E93, and F30 (designated F80) 3 series, and sold with coupe, sedan and convertible body styles. Upgrades over the "standard" 3 Series automobiles include more powerful and responsive engines, improved handling/suspension/braking systems, aerodynamic body enhancements, lightweight components, and interior/exterior accents with the tri-colour "M" (Motorsport) emblem.

The last M3 coupe was produced in Germany on 5 July 2013, replaced by the F82/F83 M4 Coupe and convertible starting with the 2015 model year,[16][17] but the M3 name remains in use for the sedan version.

Awards and recognition[edit]

The 3 Series has been on Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list 22 times, from 1992 through 2014, making it the longest running entry in the list.[18] In their December 2009 issue, Grassroots Motorsports magazine named the BMW 3 Series as the second-most important performance car built during the previous 25 years.

Production and sales[edit]

Calendar year Total production US sales
1995 54,720[19]
1996 50,248
1997 337,800[20] -
1998 376,900[20] -
1999 454,000[20] 77,138[21]
2000 509,007[20] 89,681
2001 533,952[20] 103,227[22]
2002 561,249[20] 115,428
2003 528,358[20] 111,944[23]
2004 449,732[20] 106,549[24]
2005 434,342[20] 106,950[25]
2006 508,479[20] 120,180
2007 555,219[26] 142,490
2008 474,208[27] 112,464
2009 397,103[28] 90,960[29]
2010 399,009[30] 100,910
2011 384,464 94,371[31]
2012 406,752 99,602[32]
2013 500,332[33] 119,521*[33]
2014 480,214[34] 142,232*[35]
2015 444,338[36] 140,609*
2016 411,844[36] 106,221*
2017 99,083*
2018 366,475 [37]

* includes 4-series


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  5. ^ "1998 10Best Cars - 10Best Cars". Retrieved 6 January 2017.
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  21. ^ "BMW Delivers Strongest Sales Success Ever in 2000. – Free Online Library". 3 January 2001. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  22. ^ "BMW Group Ends Best Year Ever With Record Month; December Sales Up 43 Percent; Year-to-date Sales Up 20 Percent. – Free Online Library". 3 January 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
  23. ^ "BMW Group Shatters All Past Annual Sales Records in 2004". Retrieved 25 September 2009.
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  33. ^ a b LLC, BMW of North America,. "BMW Group U.S. Reports December and 2013 Sales". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
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  35. ^ LLC, BMW of North America,. "BMW Group U.S. Reports December and 2014 Sales". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  36. ^ a b
  37. ^

External links[edit]