The success story of a global trendsetter: Five generations of the BMW 3 SeriesThe BMW 3 Series established the compact sports sedan segment and laid the foundation stone for the world's most successful premium model series.
If there is such a thing as a typical BMW, then it is without a doubt the BMW 3 Series. In the medium-size class it is considered the embodiment of the sports sedan and has maintained this leading role for many years unchallenged at the top of the premium segment. Since debuting in the year 1975, more than 12 million customers worldwide have purchased a BMW 3 Series, even though the car cannot be associated with any typical customer segment. So the reasons for this remarkable success are manifold.
Then as now, the BMW 3 Series concept was unique – a compact and elegant body design, modern and efficient engines, a classic rear-wheel drive concept and a sporty suspension setup. The result was a maximum degree of driving dynamics and agility. Moreover, BMW demonstrated a strong sense for the spirit of the time and the individual wishes of potential customers. This in turn resulted in innovative body concepts and additional technical features that competitors were unable to offer. In this respect as well, the BMW 3 Series was the first to set the benchmark in the midrange sports sedan segment. The latest examples of this are the measures implemented within the framework of BMW EfficientDynamics, thanks to which the BMW 3 Series achieves the lowest fuel consumption and emission levels in its class.
The BMW 3 Series Convertible, the BMW 3 Series Touring, the BMW 3 Series Coupé and the BMW 3 Series Compact eventually followed the sedan – the best-selling model variant in the global market. In addition, BMW designed the high-performance sports sedan BMW M3. The success story of the world's most widely sold premium car began 36 years ago with a two-door version.
1975: The first generation.
With the presentation of the first BMW 3 Series in July 1975, BMW opened a new chapter in the history of the automobile. Right from the start, the two-door sedan with compact dimensions and a sporty character has its very own distinctiveness. The kidney grille dominates the front end and with a length of 4355 mm, a width of 1610 mm and a height of 1380 mm, the new car has a compact but at the same time ‘grown-up' appearance. Track widths of 1364 mm at the front and 1377 mm at the rear provide the car with a powerful look. This is complemented by state-of-the-art, sporty suspension technology with a McPherson front axle as well as independent wheel suspension on trailing arms and spring struts at the rear.
The car is powered by four-cylinder engines with a displacement of 1573, 1766 and 1990 cc respectively. The model designations are 316, 318, 320 and 320i. With the exception of the fuel-injected engine, all power units are designed to run on regular petrol.
An absolute novelty is the interior design with a cockpit inclined towards the driver, this remaining a typical feature of the BMW interior for many years.
Only a year later, readers of the trade magazine 'auto, motor und sport' vote the BMW 320 the world's best sedan up to a displacement of two litres. In 1977, the BMW 3 Series features the segment's first six-cylinder engine, the models 320 and 323i being fitted with disc brakes all round especially for this purpose.
The BMW 323i in particular soon gains a reputation as a supreme, athletic model, which – with a power output of 105 kW/143 bhp – accelerates effortlessly to a speed of 190 km/h. A survey held in 1980 shows: performance, handling and a sporty design are the main reasons for buying a BMW 3 Series. Four out of five customers would buy the car again. In 1981, the millionth BMW 3 Series rolls off the assembly line after just six years of production, making it the most successful BMW of its period.1982: The second generation.
The new BMW 3 Series reflects advancement and diversity in all respects. A new design, optimised aerodynamics, more space and comfort, higher power output as well as additional body and engine variants. BMW has consistently extended its most successful model range, offering bespoke solutions to suit customer tastes. This generation celebrates the debut of a family-friendly four-door car (1983), the BMW 3 Series Convertible and the BMW M3 sports car (both 1985). Today, the first BMW 3 Series Convertible is a classic car that is extremely popular with many fans of the brand. With the attractively styled 1987 touring version, BMW proves that driving fun and high utility value as well as space and functionality need not contradict each other. Furthermore, the first diesel and the first four-wheel drive models are incorporated into the BMW 3 Series. The successful result of this strategy: With more than 2.3 million units sold, sales of the predecessor model is even exceeded by a million.
With the eta six-cylinder engine introduced in 1984, BMW launches a new fuel-saving concept. The 325e is powerful, economical – and clean: the first BMW 3 Series that is available exclusively with a catalytic converter. Those responsible demonstrate courage with the 324d, the first premium sports sedan based on the 3 Series. In addition, the ultra-powerful 325i makes its debut. As a 325iX, the car is equipped with permanent four-wheel drive. The transfer gearbox with viscous clutch facilitates the use of ABS, which is fitted as standard on both models. 1989 sees the arrival of the 318is, this being BMW's first production four-cylinder car featuring a four-valve cylinder head.1990: The third generation.
In 1990, the four-door sedan marks the launch of the third generation. The car boasts a high level of elegance and innovative technology. It has also become significantly larger and more spacious. The two-door version follows in 1992, but this time as an extremely elegant coupé. Just a few months later, BMW adds two further highlights – the new convertible and the new BMW M3. With the BMW 3 Series Compact of 1994, BMW designers succeed in realising yet another conceptual innovation. It appeals predominantly to fans that attach importance to economy, without wishing to forego dynamics and comfort. The tailgate of the 4.21-metre long BMW is a particularly practical feature.
The new six-cylinder models are equipped with two camshafts and four valves per combustion chamber. The power units in the coupé version feature for the first time VANOS variable camshaft control, a new technology that enhances the torque curve, lowers fuel consumption and emission levels and allows engineers to increase compression. Two further newcomers are the 325tds featuring a six-cylinder diesel engine including turbocharger and intercooler as well as the first four-cylinder turbo diesel under the bonnet of the 318tds. At the turn of the year 1994/95, BMW also adds a lightweight aluminium crankcase to the six-cylinder engines. 1998: The fourth generation.
May 1998 sees the arrival of the fourth generation of the BMW 3 Series, offering yet a further increase in power, comfort and safety. The new model is four centimetres longer and wider than its predecessor, the interior also having grown accordingly. At the end of 1999, the BMW 3 Series climbs to third place in the registration statistics, something a car in this class has never achieved before.
The brand's first diesel direct injection engine makes its debut in the 320d and the 318i is equipped for the first time with two balance shafts. The technically most prominent measure implemented on the six-cylinder petrol engines is the introduction of double VANOS. Along with the intake and exhaust camshaft, this fully automatic and infinitely variable adjustment technology provides the engine with a ‘beefier' torque curve and further reduced emissions. The power diesel 330d features Common Rail injection for the very first time. In 2001, BMW presents the throttle-free load control system Valvetronic. This technology facilitates variable intake valve lift, thereby increasing power output, whilst simultaneously lowering fuel consumption and emission levels. Only a short time later, Valvetronic goes into large-scale production.
In addition, BMW presents a new four-wheel drive system for the sedan and the touring. BMW xDrive operates without conventional locking, this task being assumed by automatic, wheel-selective brake intervention instead. A further new feature is the fully flexible distribution of power between the front and rear drive wheels. Moreover, fourth-generation trendsetters include the BMW 3 Series Coupé and the 3 Series Convertible, which are now available with a diesel engine and cleverly combine driving fun, styling and practicability.2005: The fifth generation.
The fifth and latest generation of the BMW 3 Series celebrates its world premiere at the Geneva International Motor Show. The new combination of powerful engines, dynamic and refined handling characteristics, a distinctive design and innovative equipment features is well received all over the world. The BMW Efficient Dynamics development strategy is now demonstrating how the pleasure of driving a BMW 3 Series can be brought into line with exemplary fuel economy and low emission levels.
For example, all petrol engines feature direct injection technology High Precision Injection, which is utilised in the six-cylinder models 330i and 325i and in the four-cylinder versions 320i and 318i in fuel-efficient lean-burn operation. In the BMW 335i, the injection system is combined with TwinPower Turbo technology and fully variable valve control Valvetronic. In order to optimise weight, BMW utilises an aluminium crankcase or an even lighter magnesium-aluminium composite.
In the model year 2010, all engines fulfil the EÚ5 emission standard. The BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition proves to be by far the most efficient medium-class car.
The Common Rail direct injection engine of the third generation delivers 120 kW/163 bhp with an average fuel consumption of only 4.1 litres of diesel per 100 km in the EÚ test cycle. The CO2 emission level is around 109 grams per kilometre. Finally, all current BMW 3 Series models benefit from brake energy regeneration, the four-cylinder models with manual transmission also having an Auto Start Stop function.
During the course of the past 36 years, BMW has constantly continued to extend its lead in the midrange sports segment. The BMW 3 Series displays its sporting origins in various variants and performance classes more convincingly than any other vehicle in its class. At the same time, BMW again and again proves to be an innovative trendsetter and forerunner, not only with engines and drive technology. The success story will continue as the sixth generation will soon be in the starting blocks.
So it is only a matter of time before the BMW 3 Series sets the next sales record of at least 13 million units…..Source - BMW
BMW 3 Series sedan engines: fascinating drive technology spanning five vehicle generations. In 1975, the sporty midrange BMW 3 Series established a new vehicle category. Innovative engines rendered it a forerunner for state-of-the-art technology.
For 36 years now, the BMW 3 Series has profited more than almost any other model series from its fascinating drive technology. During a period spanning five generations, BMW 3 Series engines have time and time again been pioneers of innovative technology and milestones in engine construction. As a result, the four and six-cylinder power units, each of them having been the most modern of their time, have created the basis for the success of the internationally coveted, sporty midrange series. And what's more: with its dynamic and consistently highly efficient drive technology, the BMW 3 Series became the founder of a new category of sports-oriented vehicles and, at the same time, a bestseller within the premium segment. With each new model, the series was able to expand this position even as more and more competitors began to adopt the concept of sporty, compact premium segment sedans.
In addition to excellent handling and thanks to coherent rear-wheel drive technology and steering free from negative influences, the character of the BMW 3 Series is marked by powerful and superior engine technology. Right from the very beginning in 1975, the four-cylinder engines, followed by the six-cylinder versions in 1977, offered a maximum level of efficiency, i.e. high performance coupled with low fuel consumption. Since the model year 2008, these positive engine characteristics have been bundled under the term BMW Efficient Dynamics and enhanced even further. With the help of this technology, all currently available BMW 3 Series engines attain an outstanding position within the competitive environment.In the beginning there was the powerful four-cylinder engine.
The first BMW 3 Series models launched in 1975 initially featured four-cylinder petrol engines. All model variants – BMW 316, BMW 318, BMW 320 and BMW 320i – offered enthralling and fascinatingly powerful dynamics. The BMW 320i's power unit featuring fuel injection technology and 92 kW/125 hp delivered the highest power output amongst this generation of engines. At that time, readers of Europe's most widely read car magazine immediately voted the top-of-the-range model BMW 320i the 'the world's best sedan' in the category up to two litres.From 1977 with six cylinders: BMW 320/6 and BMW 323i.
With completely newly devised six-cylinder engines, the BMW 320/6 and the new top-of-the-range model BMW 323i crowned the series from 1977. Both models convinced not only through performance alone (BMW 323i with electronically controlled engine management and transistor ignition, 105 kW/143 hp), but also through elasticity and running smoothness. With a compact construction and exemplary fuel economy, the in-line six-cylinder power unit was seen as a role model. During the late seventies, the BMW 323i enjoyed cult status with sports oriented drivers. Tuners, fitters and conversion specialists alike were in great demand and virtually all suppliers were involved with this BMW 3 Series top model. Along with the revised four-cylinder engines, a new entry-level model, the BMW 315 with 55 kW/75 hp, was added to the range during the second half of the life cycle.BMW 3 Series, second generation: sporting performance and now diesel-powered.
Even the entry-level model of the second generation launched in 1982, the four-cylinder BMW 316 with 66 kW/90 hp and electronically controlled carburettor, signalised a sporting ambition. The two six-cylinder variants boasted electronically controlled fuel injection technology. The top-of-the-range model BMW 323i with 102 kW/139 hp offered superior performance and, thanks to a five-speed transmission with overdrive characteristics, achieved an average fuel consumption of 8.9 litres/100 km. BMW engineers also took a sporting approach in terms of fuel economy. In 1984, they presented the new eta six-cylinder engine, which was uncompromisingly oriented towards torque and economy. The BMW 325e delivered 90 kW/122 hp from a 2.7-litre displacement and made do with a modest 8.4 litres of regular petrol per 100 km. Furthermore, it was the first BMW 3 Series model to be supplied exclusively with a catalytic converter. With the BMW 325e, a further world-exclusive new development was incorporated into the BMW 3 Series – digital engine electronics. This technology optimises fuel injection and mixture preparation. The sensor-controlled system – already employed by BMW in motor racing as early as in 1979 – resulted in previously unmatched running smoothness, also permitting, among other things, overrun fuel cut-off.
1985 saw the arrival of the first diesel powered BMW 3 Series, the BMW 324d, its 63 kW/86 hp six-cylinder in-line engine combining athletic driving performance uncharacteristic of a diesel with typical diesel fuel consumption of less than 7.0 l/100 km. Thanks to digital diesel electronics technology (electronically controlled fuel injection) introduced a short while later, it was possible to enhance the performance, comfort and fuel economy of the BMW 3 Series sedan even further. 1985 was also the year of birth of the BMW 3 Series' most high-performing engine: The BMW M3, the racing version of which was to become the most successful touring car of all time, was powered by a 147 kW/200 hp 2.3-litre 4-valve engine.Third generation: high performance, lower fuel consumption and VANOS.
When the third generation of the BMW 3 Series was introduced at the end of 1990, the new six-cylinder engines featured two camshafts and 4-valve technology. Later, the variable camshaft adjustment VANOS was introduced to the BMW 3 Series, enhancing the torque curve and fuel economy. A further new six-cylinder engine made its debut in the sedan – the 2.5-litre, 85 kW/115 hp power unit featured in the BMW 325td, which took the series of victories of the sports diesel to the next highlight in 1993: Únder the bonnet of the 325tds, a new six-cylinder oil burner with turbocharging and intercooler delivered a power output of 105 kW/143 hp and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in 10.4 seconds. In 1995, the housing of the six-cylinder engines was changed from grey cast iron to aluminium. The BMW 328i with 142 kW/193 hp assumed the role as the top-of-the-range model – with a fuel consumption of 8.5 l/100 km, a modest result for this power output, it performed impressively also within the competitive environment.
Even better efficiency in the fourth generation.
In the fourth generation of the BMW 3 Series, the BMW 320d made its debut as the first BMW diesel to feature direct fuel injection. It delivered 100 kW/136 hp and reached a top speed of 207 km/h with an average fuel consumption of just 5.7 l/100 km. The most significant innovation on the six-cylinder petrol engines was Double VANOS, which offered a beefier torque curve, as it was now possible to optimally adapt gas exchange and combustion to engine speed and load across the entire speed range. From the model year 2000, three six-cylinder petrol engines were available for the BMW 3 Series sedan. (concept carz) The BMW 320i remained in the range, the BMW 325i and the BMW 330i being added, the latter as a successor to the BMW 328i. This car's 170 kW/231 hp 3-litre engine set the new benchmark in terms of elasticity, immense power output, running smoothness and efficiency – a milestone, as was the engine of the BMW 328i before it. The diesel was also consistently improved: The construction principle used on the new six-cylinder in the BMW 330d with 135 kW/184 hp and 4-valve technology, direct fuel injection, turbocharger with variable turbine geometry and intercooler corresponded largely to that of the four-cylinder engine employed in the BMW 320d. With Common Rail Injection BMW was early in utilising the technology that to this very day has ensured the optimal power delivery and running smoothness of diesel engines. With an average fuel consumption of 6.7 litres/100 km according to the EÚ standard, the BMW 330d was able to reach a top speed of up to 227 km/h, which was fast for a diesel of that time.
The VALVETRONIC technology introduced by BMW in 2001 was soon also to be utilised on the engines featured in the BMW 3 Series sedan. (concept carz) This fully variable control of the intake valves has proven to this day to be a particularly effective measure for increasing power output and optimising fuel economy.Generation 5: even higher performance, even better fuel economy.
The BMW current BMW 3 Series sedan: thanks to BMW EfficientDynamics each one a benchmark in its performance class.
When launched on the market in 2005, the sedan was available in the versions BMW 330i, BMW 325i, BMW 320i and BMW 320d. Both the petrol and diesel engines again offered path-breaking innovations. The four-cylinder oil burner in the BMW 320d with new Common Rail Injection of the second generation and a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry now delivered 120 kW/163 hp. Like the 110 kW/150 hp four-cylinder power unit, both six-cylinder petrol engines were now equipped with the throttle-free load control VALVETRONIC. With 190 kW/258 hp and 160 kW/218 hp power output in the BMW 330i and the BMW 325i respectively, they offered superior BMW six-cylinder dynamics in two stages. Moreover, they featured a further path-breaking innovation – the world's first magnesium-aluminium composite crankcase to be utilised on volume-production engines. This engine weighed only 161 kilograms.
The world's first in-line six-cylinder with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology, High Precision Injection and all-aluminium crankcase initially employed in the BMW 335i Coupé from 2007, was also featured in the sedan somewhat later. With 225 kW/306 hp from a three-litre displacement, it has since then offered a new dimension in driving dynamics, pulling power equal to an eight-cylinder naturally aspirated engine and remarkable efficiency, which is unsurpassed in this performance class. The fuel supply is effected using High Precision Injection technology, a second-generation direct injection system presented by BMW for the first time. The piezo injectors are located between the valves and are therefore in the immediate vicinity of the spark plugs, thus facilitating more efficient mixture preparation and combustion.
The engine range for the current BMW 3 Series sedan – from the BMW 316d with 85 kW/115 hp and the BMW 318i with 105 kW/143 hp to the BMW 335i – offers efficient dynamics and previously unequalled product diversity. Every BMW 3 Series sedan is the benchmark in its performance class when it comes to the best relation between driving fun and fuel economy. Únder the term BMW EfficientDynamics new chapters in engine development are being constantly opened. The latest outstanding milestone is known as the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics Edition and delivers120 kW/163 hp with an average fuel consumption of just 4.1 l/100 km.Source - BMW