BMW Naming Conventions

BMW Naming Conventions are easy – you just need to understand the basics. Awhile back we wrote an article that briefly went over the naming conventions, but we wanted to get into further detail.

North Bay Bavarian has provided an outline of the BMW Naming Conventions and is here to help clear up any confusion!

Beginning with the 1972 E12 5 Series, most models in the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Series have used a model name consisting of three numbers, usually followed by one or three letters.

So, how does it work? The first number represents the model series, the last two digits represent the engine size (displacement) in decilitres (litres times 10), and the letters provide additional information on the model variant.


  • 318is means a 3 Series with a 1.8 litre engine, with the “i” meaning a fuel-injected petrol engine and the “s” meaning that sport options are fitted.
  • 125d means a 1 Series with a 2.5 litres engine, with the “d” meaning a diesel engine.
  • 760Li means a 7 Series with a 6.0 litre, with the “L” meaning a long-wheelbase model and the “i” meaning a fuel-injected petrol engine.

#bmw #bmw3.0csi

The meaning of letters can change between models. The most commonly used letters are:

  • d = diesel engine
  • i = fuel-injected petrol engine[33]
  • 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)

Other letters include:

  • 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)
  • Note*

    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 and 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).

    X Series and Z Series

    Until 2009, the model name for X Series and Z Series vehicles was:

    • The engine size in litres
    • 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”.[34] 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.[35] The model names are as follows:

    “sDrive” for rear-wheel drive or “xDrive” for all-wheel drive.

    For more than 30 years, North Bay Bavarian became and has been maintained as one of the first BMW specialty service shops in the Santa Rosa area.

    There’s a reason our shop is still the foremost Bavarian service shop in the area–our professionalism and know-how. 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 in a Bavarian Motor Works factory.

    We want to instill a love of the BMW brand in you and show you how to take care of your car like a true BMW owner. As a certified dealership alternative, we are proud to work on the latest and greatest that BMW is cranking out, all while we keep up with our own education.

    Our team of talented mechanics is consistently going through trainings and certifications to remain up to speed with all new rollouts in BMW tech.

    Contact North Bay Bavarian today and let us quiz you!