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 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.
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.
1 Series is the smallest Luxury car available as Hatchback or Coupe/Convertible.
218d, 220d, 220i, 225d,
2 Series is Compact Luxury car available as Coupé and Convertible.
7 Series is a Full-size Luxury car available in 4-door Saloon with Short & Long Wheelbase, as well as High-Security body style.
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 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.
B3-GT3 is a badge-engineered version of BMW 3 series 335i launched as limited edition GT3 by Alpina.
B7 is a High-Performance version of 745i, BMW’s flagship 7-Series under Alpina brand with badge-engineering.
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.
M4 is a High-Performance version of the BMW 4-Series Compact Luxury car available in Sports Coupe body shape.
M5 Series is High Performance (Sports) version of the BMW 5-Series Mid-size Luxury car available in Sedan body shape.
M6 Series is High Performance (Sports) version of the BMW 6-Series Luxury Sports car available in Coupe, Convertible & Gran Coupe body shape.
X1 is a Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)
X3 is a Compact Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)
X4 is an Entry-Level Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)
X5 is a Mid-Size Crossover SUV/Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)
X6 is a Luxury Sports Activity available in Coupe.
1, 3, 4, 8, 9
Z4 is a Rear-Wheel Drive Sports car available in Two-Seater Roadster body shape.
i3 is an Urban Electric car which is available in 5-door hatchback shape.
i8 is a Plug-in Hybrid Grand Tourer Sportscar
Some BMW models have letters at the end of the model such as “i”, “d”, “x”, “L”.
These letters provide additional information of the variant.
Letters used at the end of the model:
Indicates Coupé in earlier models, Cabriolet in current models
*** 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 2.0Lpetrol engine, which produces 240 bhp coupled to the 8-speed automatic transmission, whereas; 335i having a 3.0-liter petrol engine which produces 300 bhp.
The 335i’s engine is a 3.0Ltwin-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.