No other BMW model has exemplified the evolution of the company’s engineering, design, and technological advancements more than the 3 Series. For over 40 years, the 3 Series has undergone many changes, with each one reflecting important moments and hallmarks throughout the history of BMW. Take a look and see how the 3 Series has evolved these past decades.
First generation (1975–1983)
- Initially available as a 2-door coupe
- All models used carbureted 4-cylinder engines
- Fuel injected models were later introduced in late 1975 and 6-cylinder engines were added to the lineup in 1977.
- A cabriolet body style was also available, but only from 1978–1981.
Second generation (1982–1994)
- Four-door sedan models were introduced in 1983, while convertibles were introduced two years later and Touring models were introduced in another two years.
- The second generation marked the first 3 Series model available in both a wagon and four-door sedan body style configurations.
- 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.
Third generation (1990–2000)
- Sold in the following body styles: saloon, coupé, convertible, wagon (marketed as “Touring”) and hatchback (marketed as “3 Series Compact”).
- 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.
Fourth generation (1998–2006)
- Various electronic features started with the 3 Series, including satellite navigation, electronic brake-force distribution, rain-sensing wipers and LED tail-lights.
- All-wheel drive was reintroduced and was available for the 325xi and 330xi sedan/wagon models.
- The fifth-generation 3 Series was also the first to feature an engine with variable valve lift (“valvetronic”).
Fifth generation (2004–2013)
- In 2006, the 335i became the first 3 Series model sold with a turbocharged engine.
- The fifth generation 3 Series also saw the introduction of run-flat tires to the 3 Series range.
- 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 (2011–present)
- The coupe and convertible models were split from the 3 Series and sold as the BMW 4 Series.
- The 3 Series Gran Turismo was introduced, which features a long-wheelbase hatchback design.
- This generation also marks the first time the entire 3 Series lineup used turbocharged engines.
- In 2016, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain was first used in the 3 Series, in the 330e model.
- Also in 2016, a 3-cylinder engine was used for the first time in a 3 Series.
Want to learn more about the BMW 3 Series? The 2019 year model was recently unveiled by the company and we can’t wait to show you what it looks like at our Edmonton dealership. In the meantime, click here to learn more about all the exciting changes that are in store for the model.