BMW 3 Series, then and now

Author: Dipti Parmar     Date: 21-05-2015

The BMW 3 Series is one of the world’s most popular compact executive cars designed and manufactured by BMW since 1975. The 3 Series has gone through six different generations and five different body styles. But what do you most love about the BMW 3 Series?

Look at the history of BMW 3 Series:

The 3 Series story started 40 years ago in May 1975 and became the best selling model in the BMW range, accounting for around 30% of total sales and many awards for BMW over the last 40 years

First generation: E21 (1975 - 1981)

BMW 3 Series first generation model

The first generation 3 Series model was launched as a two-door saloon only and was built by Baur, coach worker in Germany. Initially all the models used to have only one M10 four cylinder engine, however in 1977, BMW added M20 six cylinder engine.

Its cockpit design of the E21 marked the introduction of a new design concept for BMW and this feature became part of BMW’s interior design philosophy for many years.

Second generation: E30 (1982 - 1993)

BMW 3 Series second generation model

The E21 was replaced by the E30 in 1982. The second generation 3 again featured an evolutionary design which was sold in coupe, saloon, convertible and five-door touring body styles which made it markedly more aerodynamic and more modern-looking than the E21.

The E30 was most remembered as the first four-door 3 Series which was available in four and six cylinder petrol engines. BMW have produced its first all-wheel drive 3-Series in 1986, called the 325iX.

Third generation: E36 (1991 - 1998)

BMW 3 Series third generation model

The third generation model of the 3 Series was known as the E36 was introduced in 1990 and was significantly bigger than the E30, breaking all visual ties with its predecessors thanks to a sleek silhouette and a more rakish C-pillar.

The E36 had many different versions and engine options including four and six cylinder petrol engine and maximum displacement was increased from 2.5 litres to 2.8 litres.

Every year, the 3 Series has crossed its limit and the E36 was named as one of the “10 Best Cars” in Car and Driver Magazine.

Fourth generation: E46 (1998 - 2006)

BMW 3 Series fourth generation model

The Fourth generation model was called the E46 and was bigger than the E36. It went from largely evolutionary style and gained L-shaped tail lamps. It was the first time; E46 was ordered with a long list of high tech features including rear side airbags, rain sensing wipers, navigation and a multi-function steering wheel. E46 was sold with four and six cylinder engine and benefited from a maximum displacement increased from 2.8 litres to 3.0 litres.

Fifth generation: E90 (2005 - 2011)

BMW 3 Series fifth generation model

The 3 Series E90 fifth generation model revealed at Geneva Motor Show in 2005 with a striking new look for the first time. The E90 was bigger than its predecessor E46 in all directions and designed with lightweight materials. The E90 started selling as a saloon and touring in March 2005, while the Coupe and convertible joined the range in August 2006. The fifth-gen 3 got the world’s first regular-production twin-turbocharged straight-six engine, and the E90-based M3 turned the dial up to 11 with a brutal 420-horsepower V8.

Sixth generation: F30 (2012 - Present)

BMW 3 Series sixth generation model

The current sixth generation 3 Series hit the market in 2012. For the first time ever, the 3 Series is available as a family friendly hatchback called Gran Turismo and its Coupe and Convertible have been included in the 4 Series.

It has been 40 years of 3 Series, but it’s still moving on and on! In its glory years, the 3 Series accounted for over 14 million sales worldwide and became the hottest selling compact executive car in the world. The 3 Series has continued to win awards and won our hearts.

Tempted by BMW 3 Series? 

Are you looking to get yourself behind the wheels of the ultimate 3 Series? Then take a look our business and personal contract hire deals available on BMW 3 Series or simply call our friendly sales team on 0118 920 5130 for more details. 

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Select Car Leasing is a trading style of Select Contracts (UK) Limited and the firm is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN 670832. Select Car Leasing are a credit broker and not a lender. VAT Registration No 181 874674. ICO Registration ZA076253. Company Number 06569098. Select Car Leasing are proud to be a member of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), No 1846. Registered address: Atlantic House, Imperial Way, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 0TD

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