BMW ActiveHybrid 7 (Photo courtesy: BMW)

BMW Nomenclature

BMW uses complex Alpha-Numeric Nomenclature for its models:

BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, is one of the "German Big 3" luxury automakers; which in English means Bavarian Motor Works. BMW nomenclature has adapted complex Alpha-Numerical combinations for its models. BMW models use slightly different combination than Audi’s.

In some cases, BMW Nomenclature uses numbers e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8; followed by some alphabets like “i”, “d” & “x” for some of its models. In other cases, BMW nomenclature also uses alphabets, such as “M”, “X” & “Z”; followed by a number in case of certain models. We tried to decode these numbers & alphabets.



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BMW Nomenclature has reserved the odd numbers (3, 5, and 7) for 4-door sedans and even numbers (2, 4, 6, and 8) for 2-door coupes and similar cars. The 1-Series is the smallest and cheapest BMW car available, either as Hatchback or Coupe/Convertible in either a 3-door or 5-door option; whereas the 8 series is the biggest and costliest BMW Luxury car.



BMW Nomenclature for BMW 750Li
BMW Nomenclature for BMW 750Li

BMW Nomenclature for SUVs:

The letter “M” denotes MotorSports segment in BMW nomenclature. BMW uses letter “X” in BMW nomenclature, which is used for the crossover / SUV body shape. The “X” represents “Cross-over” or a “Four-Wheel-Drive”. BMW offers five SUVs starting from the X1 to X6. The X1 & X3 are the Compact SUVs, while X4 is a Compact Entry-level and X5 is Mid-Size Luxury SUV. The X6 is a Luxury Sports Activity Vehicle available in Coupe.

BMW X6 (Photo courtesy: BMW)

The letter “Z” in BMW nomenclature represents the “Roadster”. BMW Z4 is a Rear-Wheel Drive Sports car, which is available in Two-Seater Roadster body shape. The small letter “i” in BMW nomenclature represent the electric/hybrid cars. The i3 is an Urban Electric car, which is available in 5-door hatchback shape; whereas i8 is a Plug-in Hybrid Grand Tourer Sports car.

BMW i8 Hybrid car

BMW Nomenclature for its cars starting with numbers:

The numbers at the start/beginning represent the “Series” of BMW cars. As a thumb-rule, higher the number denotes bigger is the car.

Brand

Numbers

Letters

Car Type

BMW

1

118i, 118d

1 Series is the smallest Luxury car available as Hatchback or Coupe/Convertible.

2

218d, 220d, 220i, 225d,

2 Series is Compact Luxury car available as Coupé and Convertible.

3

316i, 318i, 320i, 323i, 325i, 325xi, 328i, 328xi, 330i, 330xi, 335i, 335is, 335xi, 320d, 320xd, 325d, 330d, 330xd, 335d

3 Series is an Entry-Level Compact Executive car available as a Saloon (Sedan), Estate (Wagon), Coupé and Convertible

4

428i, 435i, 420d, 420i, 420i xDrive, 420d xDrive, 430d, 435d xDrive

4 Series is a Compact Executive car available in Coupé, Convertible and also in Gran Coupe body shape.

5

520i, 523i, 528i, 530i, 535i, 518d, 520d, 525d, 530d

5 series is a Mid-size Luxury car available in Sedan and Touring and Gran Turismo Hatchback body styles.

6

640i, 650i, 640d

6 Series is a Luxury Grand Tourer car available in Coupe, Convertible & Gran Coupe body shape.

7

730d, 740d, 750i xDrive, 750Li xDrive, 760i, 760Li

7 Series is a Full-size Luxury car available in 4-door Saloon with Short & Long Wheelbase, as well as High-Security body style.

8

840Ci, 850i, 850Ci, 850CSi, 860i

8 Series is a Luxury Grand Tourer (Now discontinued) with a higher price-tag and better performance.

BMW Nomenclature for BMW M5
BMW Nomenclature for BMW M5

BMW Nomenclature for its cars starting with Letters:

If the letters are used at the start/beginning of the model such as “M”, “X”, “Z” and “i”, they represent the Series. The “M” series denotes MotorSports segment – the Sports version of existing models, “X” series denotes the Crossover / SUV segment whereas, “i” series denotes Hybrid / Electric technology.

BrandLetters NumbersCar Type
 Alpina

B

3 (GT3)

B3-GT3 is a badge-engineered version of BMW 3 series 335i launched as limited edition GT3 by Alpina.

B

7

B7 is a High-Performance version of 745i, BMW’s flagship 7-Series under Alpina brand with badge-engineering.
 BMW

M

3

M3 Series is High Performance (Sports) version of the BMW 3-Series was earlier available in Coupe, Saloon, and Convertible body styles. Now with BMW new nomenclature, the M3 is available in Sedan shape only.

M

4

M4 is a High-Performance version of the BMW 4-Series Compact Luxury car available in Sports Coupe body shape.

M

5

M5 Series is High Performance (Sports) version of the BMW 5-Series    Mid-size Luxury car available in Sedan body shape.

M

6

M6 Series is High Performance (Sports) version of the BMW 6-Series Luxury Sports car available in Coupe, Convertible & Gran Coupe body shape.

X

1

X1 is a Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)

X

3

X3 is a Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)

X

4

X4 is an Entry-Level Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)

X

5

X5 is a Mid-Size Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)

X

6

X6 is a Luxury Sports Activity available in Coupe.

Z

1, 3, 4, 8, 9

Z4 is a Rear-Wheel Drive Sports car available in Two-Seater Roadster body shape.

i

3

i3 is an Urban Electric car which is available in 5-door hatchback shape.

i

8

i8 is a Plug-in Hybrid Grand Tourer Sportscar

BMW Nomenclature for its cars:

BMW Z4 Coupe

The letters positioned at the end of the model such as “i”, “d”, “x”, “L”, provide additional information of the variant.

BMW Nomenclature for Letters used at the end of the model:

SL.

Code

Meaning

1“C”Indicates Coupé in earlier models, Cabriolet in current models
2“GT”Gran Turismo
3“d”Indicates car models with diesel engine
4“e” (eta)The engine tuned for economy rather than power
5“h”Hydrogen powered car
6“i”injection (fuel injected engine)
7"Ci"

indicates It’s a Coupe/Convertible with a petrol injected engine

8"Cd"

indicates that It’s a coupe with a diesel powered engine

9"Ci"

indicates that it’s a 2-door Convertible with a petrol injected engine

10"iT"

"T" in "iT" stands for "Touring", “i” indicates that it’s a petrol injected engine

11"t"indicates it’s a hatchback
12“L”Long Wheelbase
13“M”

Indicates the Sports version of the existing model e.g. X5 M, X6 M.

14“s”

This represents Sport, either with upgraded interiors / cosmetic options or increased engine power.

15“sDrive”Rear-Wheel Drive car
16“T”Touring (Wagon/Estate) body Shape
17“td”Turbo diesel engine
18“x” / xDriveBMW xDrive / All-Wheel Drive

BMW Nomenclature for its cars:

BMW Nomenclature for BMW Z4 Roadster
BMW Nomenclature for BMW Z4 Roadster

Some examples of configuration are as below:

Model

First Digit

Last Two Digits X 10

End Letters

Chassis type / Series

Engine Capacity

Additional information on Variant

320i

3

20

i

3 Series car

Engine Capacity = 20 X 100 = 2000 cc OR 2.0 Litres

i = Fuel Injection

520d

5

20

d

5 Series car

Engine Capacity = 20 X 100 = 2000 cc OR 2.0 Litres

Diesel engine

330xi

3

30

xi

3 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 30 X 100 = 3000 cc OR 3.0 Litres

All-Wheel Drive & Fuel Injection

760Li

7

60

Li

7 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 60 X 100 = 6000 cc OR 6.0 Litres

Long Wheel Base & Fuel Injection

Z4sDrive23i

Z4 sDrive

23

i

Z Series Car version 4 with Rear-Wheel Drive

Engine Capacity = 23 X 100 = 2300 cc OR 2.3 Litres

Fuel Injection

524td

5

24

td

5 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 24 X 100 = 2400 cc OR 2.4 Litres

Turbo Diesel

316g

3

16

g

3 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 16 X 100 = 1600 cc OR 1.6 Litres

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

318is

3

18

is

3 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 19 X 100 = 1900 cc OR 1.9 Litres

Fuel Injection Car with Sports Options

323Ti

3

23

Ti

3 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 23 X 100 = 2300 cc OR 2.3 Litres

Turismo Internazionale

645Ci

6

45

Ci

6 Series Car

Engine Capacity = 45 X 100 = 4500 cc OR 4.5 Litres

Coupe / Convertible with fuel injection

BMW Nomenclature for its cars:

*** Note: The BMW engine nomenclatures shown here are general examples. There are, however, some exceptions to this convention. The 2007 BMW 328i and also the 2007 BMW 335i both are the 3-Series cars. The 328i has a 2.0L petrol engine, which produces 240 bhp coupled to an 8-speed automatic transmission, whereas; 335i having a 3.0-liter petrol engine which produces 300 bhp.

The 335i’s engine is a 3.0L twin-turbocharged, and the number 35 could possibly translate to the Turbocharged (5) version of the 3.0L engine; making it 35. So, in that context, could the number 28 in 328i possibly mean that the 2.0L naturally aspirated engine mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox? Only BMW would know.

Read more: Audi Nomenclature>>

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