Evolution of the BMW 3 Series (1975 – present)

The BMW 3 Series is one of the best-known and most popular models, with more than 15 million units sold by 2019 and accounting for 30% of the BMW brand’s total annual sales. This is how it has evolved over time.

First generation 3 Series (E21, 1975-1983)

The BMW E21 went on sale in 1975 as a replacement for the 02 Series. It was initially available as a 2-door coupé.

At the time of its launch, all models were equipped with 4-cylinder engines, and later 6-cylinder engines were added. The cabrio model, manufactured by Baur, was available from 1978 until 1981.

Second generation 3 Series (E30, 1982-1994)

Initially, the E30 was produced only in the two-door sedan body style. Four-door sedan models were introduced in 1983, convertibles were introduced in 1985 and touring models were introduced in 1987.

It was the first 3 Series to offer a diesel engine, and all-wheel drive was introduced into the 3 Series range with the 325iX model.

The second generation 3 Series, the E30, was the first generation to feature the sporty M3 version.


Third generation 3 Series (E36, 1990-1997)

The third generation 3 Series E36 was available as a sedan, coupé, convertible, wagon (marketed as “touring”) and hatchback (marketed as “3 Series Compact”).

The BMW Z3 roadster and coupé models were based on the E36 platform.

Fourth generation 3 Series (E46, 1998-2006)

The fourth-generation E46 3 Series was available as a sedan, coupé, convertible, wagon (marketed as “touring”) and hatchback (marketed as “3 Series Compact”).

Fifth generation 3 Series (E90 E92 E92 E93 2005-2013)

In 2006, the 335i became the first 3 Series model to be sold with a turbocharged petrol engine.

The E90 / E92 / E93 M3 is powered by the BMW S65 v8 engine. It was launched in 2007 and was produced in sedan, coupé and cabriolet styles.


Sixth generation 3 Series (F30, 2012-2018)

The F30 / F31 / F34 has been produced in sedan, station wagon and 5-door hatchback (“Gran Turismo”) body styles.

For the F30 / F31 / F34 series, the coupé and convertible models were split from the 3 Series and sold as the BMW 4 Series. A hatchback or Gran Turismo version was also available.

Seventh generation 3 Series (G20, 2019-Present)

It is the seventh and current generation of the 3 Series and was unveiled at the 2018 Paris Motor Show.