BMW ActiveHybrid 7 (Photo courtesy: BMW)

BMW Nomenclature: How BMW Names its models?


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BMW uses complex Alpha-Numeric Nomenclature for its models:

The term 'BMW' stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, is one of the "German Big 3" luxury automakers, which in English, means Bavarian Motor Works. The BMW nomenclature has adapted complex Alpha-Numerical combinations for its models. BMW models use a 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.



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 750 Li
BMW 750 Li

BMW Nomenclature for SUVs:

The letter “M” denotes MotorSports segment in BMW nomenclature. BMW uses the 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)
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 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.

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