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

The first generation of 3 Series was only available as a 2-door coupe, however the model range has since expanded to include a 4-door sedan, 2-door convertible, 5-door station wagon and 5-door hatchback body styles. In 2013, the coupe and convertible models started to be badged as 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 1988.[2]


File:E30 E36 E46 schmal.jpg

BMW released its E21 in the wake of the 1973 oil crisis, nearly doubling BMW's worldwide auto sales figures in three years.Template:Citation needed

The model codes for the six generations of the 3 Series are:

  • E21: 1975–1981 Coupe and Cabriolet
  • E30: 1982–1991 Coupe, Sedan, Cabriolet and Touring (also called Sports Wagon)
  • E36: 1992–1998 Coupe, Sedan, Cabriolet, Compact and Touring
  • E46: 1999–2005 Coupe, Sedan, Cabriolet, Compact and Touring
  • E90: 2005–2011 Sedan. E91: 2005–2011 Touring. E92: 2006–2013 Coupé. E93: 2007–2013 Convertible
  • F30: 2012–present Sedan. F31: 2012–present Touring. F34: 2013–present Gran Turismo


E21, First generation, 1975–1981 Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (E21)
File:1978 BMW 320 (8733841249).jpg

The E21 was released as 316, 318 and 320 models,[3] to replace the 02 Series.

Most E21s were sold as 2-door compact sedans, however a Baur cabriolet was also available. Initially, the E21 was powered by a 4-cylinder engine, with a straight-6 engine added to the line-up in 1977. Template:Clear

E30, Second generation, 1982–1991 Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (E30)
File:1990 BMW 318i (E30) 4-door sedan (2015-07-09) 02.jpg

The E30 was initially produced in the 2-door sedan body style. In following years, the 4-door sedan, convertible and estate ("touring") body styles were added. The E30 models were powered by a range of 4-cylinder and straight-6 engines, and for the first time a diesel engine was used in the 3 Series.

The BMW M3 was first introduced on the E30 platform. The E30 M3 was fitted with the high-revving S14 4-cylinder engine, which produced Template:Convert in its final iteration.[4]

The 325iX model was the first 3 Series to use all-wheel drive.

The saloon version of the E30 was replaced in late 1990, but the estate and cabriolet models weren't replaced until 1993. Template:Clear

E36, Third generation, 1993–1998 Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (E36)
File:1994 BMW 318is (E36) coupe (23805534193).jpg

The E36 was produced in sedan, coupe, convertible, station wagon ("Touring") and hatchback ("Compact") body styles.

The hatchback body style, known as the BMW Compact, was introduced in 1994 starting with the 318ti, being very popular in Europe but largely unsuccessful in North America. The "Touring" estate was sold in Europe from 1995, but was not available in the United States. Even though the BMW factory was producing its own E36 convertibles, the Baur "Top Cabriolet" conversion was also available.

BMW's first sequential manual transmission ("SMG") debuted in the E36 M3.

The E36 was a successful model which laid strong foundations for the E46's success in subsequent years.[5] For every year of its production, the E36 was named in Car and Driver Magazine's "10 Best Cars" list (see Car and Driver Ten Best). Additionally, the E36 M3 was named Car and Driver's best handling car for over $30k in 1997.[6] Template:Clear

E46, Fourth generation, 1998–2005 Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (E46)
File:2001-2005 BMW 318i (E46) sedan 02.jpg

The E46 was produced in sedan, coupé, convertible, wagon and hatchback body style.

All-wheel drive ("xDrive") was re-introduced in the 3 Series, after a break of 18 years. It was available for the six-cylinder 325xi and 330xi sedan/wagon models.[7][8]

The E46 was considered the performance benchmark of its class[9] and experienced success in many markets. The record selling year for the E46 chassis was 2002, when 561,249 vehicles were sold worldwide.[10] The main competitors during the E46's production run were the Renault Mégane, Volkswagen Bora, Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Saab 9-3 and the Volvo S40.

The M3 version of the E46 was powered by the BMW S54 straight-six engine. The M3 was released in 2001 and was available in coupé and convertible body styles. The transmissions available were a 6-speed manual or the 6-speed "SMG-II" sequential manual transmission.Template:Clear

E90/E91/E92/E93, Fifth generation, 2006–2011 Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (E90/E91/E92/E93)
File:2005-2008 BMW 320i (E90) sedan (2011-07-17) 02.jpg

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 tyres to the 3 Series range. Consequently, cars with run-flats are not equipped with a spare tyre.

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. Template:Clear

F30/F31 Sixth generation, 2012–present Edit

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Main article: BMW 3 Series (F30/F31)
File:BMW 320d EDE F30 (7719208974) (cropped).jpg

The F30/F31 has been produced in the sedan, station wagon, long wheelbase sedan (Chinese market only) and 5-door hatchback ("Gran Turismo") body styles.

For the F30/F31 series, the coupe and convertible models were split from the 3 Series and sold as the BMW 4 Series. There are two additional 5-door body styles: a tall hatchback marketed as the 3 Series Gran Turismo (F34), and a lower liftback called 4 Series Gran Coupe (F36).

The F30/F31 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.[11] 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. Template:Clear

2018 Edit

The G20 version is scheduled for introduction in 2018, based on a BMW CLAR platform (cluster architecture) introduced on the 2016 BMW 7 Series. Engine range starts with 1.5-litre three-cylinder.[12] A 90kWh battery-electric 3 series can come around 2020.[13]

3 Series Wagon Discontinuation in USEdit

The BMW 3 Series Wagon apparently will be discontinued around 2017 or 2018 in the United States due to poor sales.[14]

M versionEdit

File:BMW M3 F80 (15608871427).jpg
Main article: BMW M3

The M3 is a high-performance 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 3 series, and sold with coupe, saloon 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,[15][16] but the M3 name will remain in use for the saloon version.

The BMW M3 remains the only car ever to have earned more titles than the venerable Porsche 911 in Motorsport, and also is the most successful touring, and grand touring car ever to have participated in racing.

Awards and recognitionEdit

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.[17] 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 salesEdit

Calendar year Total production US sales
1995 54,720[18]
1996 50,248
1997 337,800[19]-
1998 376,900[19]-
1999 454,000[19]77,138[20]
2000 509,007[19]89,681
2001 533,952[19]103,227[21]
2002 561,249[19]115,428
2003 528,358[19]111,944[22]
2004 449,732[19]106,549[23]
2005 434,342[19]106,950[24]
2006 508,479[19]120,180
2007 555,219[25]142,490
2008 474,208[26]112,464
2009 397,103[27]90,960[28]
2010 399,009[29]100,910
2011 384,46494,371[30]
2012 406,75299,602[31]
2013 500,332[32] 119,521*[32]
2014 142,232*[33]

* includes 4-series

References Edit

External linksEdit


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