BMW 3 Series Compact

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
BMW 3 Series Compact
BMW 316i Compact (5446240517).jpg
Body and chassis
ClassSubcompact executive car (C)
Body style3-door hatchback
LayoutFR layout
SuccessorBMW 1 Series

The BMW 3 Series Compact is a 3-door hatchback version of the BMW 3 Series, which was produced from 1993 through 2004. Initially based on the E36 platform, it switched to the E46 platform in 2001.

The launch models were powered by four-cylinder petrol engines, with the range expanded over the years to include a four-cylinder compressed natural gas engine,[1] four-cylinder diesel engines and six-cylinder petrol engines. Unlike most hatchback competitors, the 3 Series Compact uses rear-wheel drive (instead of front-wheel drive).

The title 'Ti' (Turismo Internazionale), was unique to the Compact range and was used on the more powerful versions, harking back to the BMW New Class 'Ti' models of the sixties.[citation needed]

In 2004, the 3 Series Compact was replaced by the 1 Series. The 3 Series GT, introduced in 2013, is not a successor to the 3 Series Compact, despite also using a hatchback rear opening.

E36/5 (1993-2000)[edit]

95 318ti.jpg
Body and chassis
PlatformBMW 3 Series (E36)
1.6-1.9 L M43 I4
1.8 L M42 I4
1.9 L M44 I4
2.5 L M52 I6
1.7 L M41 I4
1.6 L M43 I4
Wheelbase2,700 mm (106.3 in)
Length4,210 mm (165.7 in)
Width1,698 mm (66.9 in)
Height1,393 mm (54.8 in)
Curb weight1,175 kg (2,590 lb)−1,290 kg (2,840 lb)

Launched in 1993, the E36 3 Series Compact (model code E36/5), was BMW's first hatchback since the 2002 Touring model was discontinued in 1974.

From the front bumper to the A-pillar, the E36/5 is identical to the E36 saloon.[citation needed] From the A-pillar rearwards, the E36/5 is unique from others in the E36 range. Although the overall length of the E36/5 is approximately 200 millimetres (8 in) shorter than the rest of the E36 3 Series range, the length of the wheelbase is the same.

A large sunroof, covered by a folding canvas roof was available from mid-1995.[2] This model was known as either the California Top Edition or the Open Air Edition.[3][4]

In September 1996 (model year 1997), the 3 Series compact received a facelift. Changes included revised tail-lights, grille, bumpers and mirrors.[5]


The front suspension uses the E36's MacPherson strut design, while the rear suspension uses a semi-trailing arm from the previous generation E30 models (instead of the Z-Axle multi-link suspension used by the rest of the E36 range). This rear suspension arrangement - which is also used on the Z3 - is more compact and cheaper to produce.[5] Some reviewers believe that this arrangement causes the E36/5 handling to be prone to oversteer.[6][7]


BMW 316g logo

The interior is mostly similar to the E36 saloon models, apart from the folding rear seats and dashboard which shares some elements with the previous generation E30 3 Series.[5]


Name Power Torque Engine Acceleration 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) (seconds) Top speed Years
316i 75 kW (101 bhp)
at 5,500 rpm
150 N⋅m (111 lb⋅ft)
at 3,900 rpm
12.3 188 km/h (117 mph) 1994–1999
77 kW (103 bhp)
at 5,300 rpm
165 N⋅m (122 lb⋅ft)
at 2,500 rpm
11.9 190 km/h (118 mph) 1999–2000
316g* 60 kW (80 bhp)
at 5,500 rpm
127 N⋅m (94 lb⋅ft)
at 3,900 rpm
15.6 - 1995–2000
318ti 100 kW (134 bhp)
at 6,000 rpm
175 N⋅m (129 lb⋅ft)
at 4,500 rpm
9.9 209 km/h (130 mph) 1994–1995
106 kW (142 bhp)
at 6,000 rpm
180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft)
at 4,300 rpm
9.9 209 km/h (130 mph) 1995–1998
323ti 130 kW (174 bhp)
at 5,500 rpm
245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft)
at 3,950 rpm
7.8 230 km/h (143 mph) 1997–2001
66 kW (89 bhp)
at 4,400 rpm
190 N⋅m (140 lbf⋅ft)
at 2,000 rpm
I4 turbo
13.9 175 km/h (109 mph) 1995–2001

* Bivalent drive: The 316g can run either on gasoline or compressed natural gas(CNG). 75 kW (101 bhp) when running on gasoline.

Prototype models[edit]

M3 Compact
In 1996, to celebrate the 50th birthday of the German automobile magazine Auto, Motor und Sport, BMW M hand-built one M3 Compact.[8] The car embodied all the technical and optical characteristics of the stock E36 M3, but in the compact body, and more. Quad exhaust tips, Recaro sports seats, four-point seatbelts and an Alcantara steering wheel and gear lever were specific for this model.[9] The car was widely regarded as a test mule for the Z3 M Coupe.[citation needed] The car was donated to the automobile magazine,[which?] and currently resides in the M GmbH headquarters in Garching, Munich.[10]

5-door version
During 1993, BMW built several prototype 5-door hatchback cars,[citation needed] which looked outwardly even more similar to the saloon right back to the C-pillar. However, following the initially disappointing sales response to the Compact (in comparison to the Saloon & Coupe models) BMW decided not to offer a 5-door liftback variant.[citation needed] The prototypes were stripped and the bodyshells disposed of.[citation needed]

North American models[edit]

In North America, the sole model available was the 318ti, initially powered by a DOHC 1.8 litre, 138 bhp (103 kW; 140 PS) inline-four BMW M42 engine.[11] In 1996, to make the car compliant with OBD-II, the M42 was replaced by the 1.9 litre M44 engine.

The E36 Compact was popular in its home market in Europe, which prompted BMW to market the car to North America in late 1994 (for the 1995 model year). BMW ceased importation of the BMW Compact to North America in 1999 after a very short 4-year run due to a combination of poor sales, and BMW's decision to phase out all 4-cylinder vehicles in the United States.[citation needed] The failure of the E36 Compact precluded the E46 Compact's entry into the North American market, and prompted BMW to reconfigure the BMW Compact's successor, the BMW 1 Series, from a liftback to a coupe before attempting to market the car in North America again.[citation needed]

Sales figures[edit]

The total production for 1993 to 1999 (ie excluding 2000, the final year of production) is 371,498.[12]

E46/5 (2000-2004)[edit]

BMW E46 compact front 20071104.jpg
Body and chassis
PlatformBMW 3 Series (E46)
1.6 L N40 I4
1.6 L N45 I4
1.8-2.0 L N42 I4
1.8-2.0 L N46 I4
2.5 L M54 I6
2.0 L M47 I4
Wheelbase2,725 mm (107.3 in)
Length4,260 mm (167.7 in)
Width1,751 mm (68.9 in)
Height1,408 mm (55.4 in)
Curb weight1,300 kg (2,900 lb)−1,405 kg (3,097 lb)
BMW 3 Series Compact (E46)

In 2000, the 3 Series Compact was redesigned using the then-new E46 platform. This updated Compact has the model code E46/5.

As per the rest of the E46 range, the wheelbase was increased by 25 mm (1.0 in). The overall length is also increased by 52 mm (2.0 in).[13]

The exterior styling has several differences to the rest of the E46 3 Series range, notably the distinctive headlights and tail-lights.[14] Mechanically, the Compact shares many elements with the rest of the E46 range, however the steering rack has a faster ratio.[15]

The E46/5 was not sold in North America.


The rear suspension uses a multi-link design, compared with the semi-trailing arm design used by its predecessor.[15][16]


Transmission options are mostly the same as the equivalent E46 coupe/sedan model.

From early 2003, the 325ti was available with a 6-speed SMG-II automated manual transmission.[17]


Petrol engines[edit]

Model Years Engine Power Torque
316ti 2002–2004 N40B16* 85 kW (114 bhp)
at 6,100 rpm
150 N⋅m (111 lbf⋅ft)
at 4,300 rpm
2004 N45B16 85 kW (114 bhp)
at 6,000 rpm
2001–2004 N42B18 85 kW (114 bhp)
at 5,600 rpm
175 N⋅m (129 lbf⋅ft)
at 3,750 rpm
2004 N46B18
318ti 2001–2004 N42B20 105 kW (141 bhp)
at 6,000 rpm
200 N⋅m (148 lbf⋅ft)
at 3750 rpm
2004 N46B20
325ti 2001–2004 M54B25 141 kW (189 bhp)
at 6,000 rpm
245 N⋅m (181 lbf⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm

* Used instead of the N42 engine in countries where vehicles tax charges favour smaller engines.
† Used instead of the N46 engine in countries where vehicles tax charges favour smaller engines.

Diesel engines[edit]

Model Years Engine Power Torque
318td 2003–2004 M47D20 85 kW (114 bhp)
at 4,000 rpm
280 N⋅m (207 lbf⋅ft)
at 1,750 rpm
320td 2001–2004 M47D20 110 kW (150 bhp)
at 4,000 rpm
330 N⋅m (243 lbf⋅ft)
at 2,000 rpm


  1. ^ "3' E36 316g Diagram Selection". Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  2. ^ "54112267291 COVER, FOLDING TOP SCHWARZ". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  3. ^ "1996 BMW 318ti California Top Edition Manual Transmission For Sale". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  4. ^ "E36 316i 1.9i Compact Individual – Open Air Edition/ California Model". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. ^ a b c "BMW 3 Series Compact (1994 - 2001) used car review". Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  6. ^ "BMW 3 Series Compact – The Ugly Duckling Of The Family". Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Guilty pleasures: why the 318ti is a baby BMW with potential". Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Did BMW ever build an one-off E36 M3 3.2 Compact?". Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  9. ^ "BMW E36 3-Series and M3 Club - 1996 BMW M3 Compact E36". Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Bimmerpost visits BMW M's Secret Underground Garage". Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  11. ^ "3'E36 Compact 318ti US model selection". Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  12. ^ Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990. 5. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 134. ISBN 3-613-02128-5.
  13. ^ "Review: BMW E46 3-Series compact (2001-05)". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  14. ^ "BMW 325ti". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  15. ^ a b "BMW 3 Series Compact (2001 - 2005) used car review". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  16. ^ "BMW 325ti Compact 2001 - Geneva Auto Show". Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  17. ^ "3' E46 325ti Manual gearbox GS6S37BZ (SMG)". Retrieved 11 September 2017.