How Does BMW Name Their Models?

North Bay Bavarian has been providing exceptional BMW service, BMW repair and BMW maintenance to Santa Rosa since 1987. Our crew has taken the time to learn every nuance and subtlety that makes BMW the world’s Ultimate Driving Machine. Our knowledge of BMW isn’t stagnant. Our mechanics are constantly on the lookout for new information about BMW models, so we can always provide our customers with outstanding service. We learn everything about BMW so you don’t have to. In this article we’d like to share some of the knowledge we’ve acquired by explaining the naming conventions BMW uses for their different models.

BMW Naming Conventions | BMW Nomenclature | BMW Series Numbers

BMW naming convention graphicBelieve it or not, BMW has a method for naming their models. Here, we briefly break down the method to their madness.

BMW uses what is known as an alpha-numeric system for naming its models. These systems combine letters and numbers to denote the identity of the model.

At present, BMW has eight different series with sub-models included in each. Each series is denoted by the number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8.

The odd numbers – 3, 5, and 7 – are used to denote 4-door sedans. The even numbers – 2, 4, 6 and 8 – are used to denote 2-door coupes and similar set-ups.

There is a correlation between the series number and the cost and quality of the series. The 1-series is the least expensive BMW, and 8-series models have the most bells, whistles and the highest price tags.

Most models use a name consisting of three numbers followed by one to two letters.

  1. The first number represents the model series
  2. The last two digits represent the engine displacement in cubic centimeters divided by 100
  3. The letters at the end provide additional information on the model variant such as body style and platform.

BMW Naming Convention Variant Key

  • d = diesel engine
  • i = fuel-injected petrol engine
  • L = long wheelbase- sometimes the L is the first letter (eg 750Li), and sometimes it is the last letter (eg 750iL)
  • td = turbodiesel
  • x / xDrive = all-wheel drive – sometimes the x is the first letter (eg 325xi), and sometimes it is the last letter (eg 325ix)
  • C = coupé/convertible (only used on E24, E46 and E63 models)
  • e = eta (from the Greek letter ‘η’) a model tuned for fuel efficiency (E30 325e, G30 530e, G11 740e)
  • s = sport, this can represent either upgraded interior/cosmetic options or increased engine power depending on the model.
  • T = Touring (wagon/estate)
  • t = hatchback (only used on some 3 Series Compact models)

Did BMW Stay Consistent With Their Conventions?

It’s important to note that BMW has not remained 100% consistent with their naming conventions.

Even for non-turbo engines, the number of cylinders cannot be determined from the model name.

For example, the 1987-1991 530i uses a six-cylinder engine. The 1992-1996 530i uses a V8 engine. The 2000-2016 530i uses a six-cylinder engine. To add to the confusion, just prior to the 1992 V8 530i being introduced, the 535i model used a six-cylinder engine.

Until 2009, the model name for X Series and Z Series vehicles was the engine size in liters, followed by an “i” for petrol engines or a “d” for diesel engines

Examples of this naming convention are “X5 3.0d” and “Z3 1.8i”. Sometimes an “s” was added after the engine size for higher performance models (for example, “Z4 3.0si” and “X5 4.8is”).

Since 2009, a revised model naming system has been used. The model names are as follows: “sDrive” for rear-wheel drive or “xDrive” for all-wheel drive.

North Bay Has Your Back, Regardless of Model

For more than 30 years, North Bay Bavarian has been Santa Rosa’s BMW specialty service shop.

Our professionalism and know-how are unparalleled. Many clients ask us what Bavarian Service means. Bavarian Service from North Bay Bavarian is our way of providing the same high-end service you would find at the BMW factory or at a BMW dealership.

As a certified dealership alternative, we would be honored to work on your BMW whether you’re looking for a smooth commute or a race-ready beast.

Contact North Bay Bavarian today!