A Comprehensive Guide: The Different Types Of BMW Cars

Welcome to our comprehensive BMW guide; an in-depth look at the brand, the different types of BMW cars available and the pros and cons of each. 

Whether you already know which car you want, are just starting your search, or find yourself somewhere in between, we’ll guide you through the essentials you need to know. 

Skip To The Section You Want To Read

The History Of BMW

BMW Series Overview

BMW Terminology

1 Series

2 Series

3 Series

4 Series

5 Series

6 Series

7 Series

8 Series

Z Series

X Series (SUV)

i Series (Original Electric & Hybrid)

PHEV Series (Hybrid)

The History Of BMW

BMW was founded in Munich in 1916. At the time, it was known as Rapp-Motorenwerke (Rapp Engine Factories), and it wasn’t until 1922 it officially became Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Engine Works), or BMW to you and I.

BMW 502 V8

According to the company themselves, BMW stands for “driving pleasure”. But the German automotive giant didn’t always make cars. In fact, it didn’t make its first car until 1928. 

Up until that point, BMW focussed their efforts on building plane engines. Their founding company, Rapp-Motorenwerke, supplied the German Empire’s airforce during the First World War. And it’s BMW’s tie to the aerospace industry which has paved the way to the self-propagating urban myth which surrounds the company to this day.  

BMW Logo History

Many believe the BMW logo (above) is a depiction of a propeller spinning. However, that’s not the case. In fact, it’s simply an inverted tribute to the Bavarian coat of arms – white and blue. 

The reason for the inversion is that at the time the logo was registered with the German Imperial Register of Trademarks – in 1917 – it was against local law to use any sovereign symbol or state’s coat of arms for commercial branding. 

So, where did the myth come from? Well, oddly, BMW themselves. After producing a piece of marketing in 1929 which portrayed the logo as a plane’s propeller, the harmless mistruth was born and it continues to be spread today. 

BMW Series Overview

From the city-centric 1 Series up to the luxurious 7 and 8, each BMW is purposeful and striking in design.

The naming of each model follows a similar alphanumeric trend (using both letters and numbers) to that of its German competitors, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, as well as other car manufacturers around the world. 

However, a bigger Series number doesn’t always mean a bigger car. It does where the odd numbers are concerned – 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, 7 Series, all of which ascend in size – but that’s not the case with the evens. The evens are usually an adaptation of the odds. 

BMW Range

The alphanumeric combination after the first number also tells its own story. They used to depict the size of the car’s engine – for example, BMW 520 would mean a 5 Series with a 2-litre engine – but that’s no longer the case. 

Instead, nowadays it’s used as a rough power guide. So even though a BMW 520 may still have a 2-litre engine, a BMW 530 won’t necessarily have a 3-litre engine. It’s just more powerful than a 520. 

The letters also hold meaning, too. A ‘d’ after the numbers, for example, the BMW 530d, means the car has a diesel engine. If you see a ‘T’ it means it’s a Tourer, or what we’d usually call an estate. And ‘xDrive’ means it’s all-wheel-drive. 

The ‘i’, however, has two meanings. If it’s before the numbers, the vehicle belongs to BMW’s electrified range. Whereas if it comes after, it means the vehicle is fuel injected. 

BMWs also follow similar design traits. For instance, the synonymous kidney-shaped grille at the front of the car, which was first seen on the BMW 303 at the Geneva International Motor Show in 1933, has remained a prominent feature since.

Another shared feature is the crease line which runs along the side of the bodywork, on which the door handles sit, which gives each model a distinctively tapered shape. And to accentuate the Bimmer’s typical rear-wheel-drive, as well as “emphasise the dynamic forward thrust of the vehicle”, there’s a forward curve at the lower corner of each rear window. 

This is known as the Hofmeister kink – named after the former head of BMW body design, Wilhelm Hofmeister – and has been seen on almost every BMW since its inception in 1961. It’s also been adopted by nearly every other car manufacturer in the world.

BMW Terminology 

ALPINA: Alpina is a separate vehicle manufacturer that modifies BMWs. Unlike the M series, where BMW takes its car’s mechanical parts and replaces them with more racetrack-centred components, Alpina makes changes across the board. So, instead of just improving the engine, they’ll upgrade the interior and other parts, too.

Bimmer: A slang phrase for a BMW. It’s pronounced “Bee-mer”, but that spelling, as well as ‘Beamer’, typically refers to a BMW motorcycle. 

Competition: A type of BMW specification that comes with increased power and suspension and handling improvements as well as some interior aesthetics. Usually only found on the M Series. 

Coupe: A fixed-roof, two-door vehicle with a sloped rear.

Gran Coupe: A four-door version of a coupe. Despite the increase in the number of doors, the styling remains the same.

Gran Turismo: A four-door saloon that has a higher driving position and a bigger boot. 

Gran Tourer: A seven-seater family vehicle. Only features in the 2 Series. 

Hoffmeister Kink: A forward curve at the rear corner of each rear window.

i: ‘i’ has two meanings. If it sits before the vehicle series, i.e. ‘i3 and i8’, the vehicle belongs to BMW’s electrified range. If it sits after, for example, 520i, it means the vehicle is fuel injected. 

M: Different from M Sport. The M range is BMW’s track-based, sportier, harder and more aggressive upgrade package to their standard cars.

BMW M Badge

M Sport: A specification available across almost all BMW models, often binging styling tweaks and increased engine performance. 

PHEV: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Meaning you are powered by both the internal combustion engine and batteries. The batteries are replenished by plugging the vehicle into a power outlet. 

Roadster: A sport-centric, two-seater, open-top car.  

s: Sport. Not to be confused with the Sport specification available on most models. Only applicable to the i3. 

sDrive: BMW’s two-wheel-drive system.

Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV): BMW’s own terminology for Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), also known as their X range. 

xDrive: BMW’s all-wheel-drive system. 

X: BMW’s SUV range. 

Z: BMW’s two-seater roadster. 

The Different Types Of BMW Cars

1 Series

BMW 1 Series

The 1 Series is BMW’s city-friendly hatchback. It comes in three model types; the entry-level SE, the Sport and M Sport. 

As standard, the 1 Series comes with keyless entry and start, SatNav, cruise control, Apple CarPlay and parking assist. Further up the specs, you’ll jump between 16”, 17” and 18” alloy wheels, single and dual-zone aircon, upgraded suspension and different styling options. 

The 1 Series is available in a range of 10 different colours, including several shades of black, white, grey and blue, as well as a single burnt orange. 

Although there’s no definitive M version of the 1 Series, you can upgrade the engine to a more powerful 306bhp variant.  

Body Styles

  • Hatchback

Models

  • 118i 
  • 116d 
  • 118d 
  • 120d 
  • 120d xDrive
  • M135i xDrive

Advantages Of 1 Series

  • Well equipped interior
  • Wide range of powertrains to choose from
  • Practical
  • Fun to drive
  • Spacious for a city car

Disadvantages Of 1 Series

  • No rear-wheel-drive option
  • No M1 super-hatch available

2 Series

BMW 2 Series

The 2 Series is BMW’s most varied range. It comes in six different styles; Coupe, Convertible, Gran Coupe, Active Tourer, Gran Tourer and the M2 Competition. 

Following the same specification pattern as the 1 Series, the Coupe comes with the option of SE, Sport and M Sport trim lines, with the latter two also available in the Gran Coupe. 17” and 18” alloy wheels are available depending on spec, while Sat Nav, keyless start and rear park assist are standard across the Coupe range. 

In the more family-orientated Active and Gran Tourers, you have the choice of five or seven seats and four different trim options.; SE, Luxury, Sport and M Sport. The SE – the entry-level spec – offers a high level of standard equipment and a great driving dynamic for an MPV. 

If, however, you’re keen to bring the racetrack to the road, the M2 Competition delivers a huge 450bhp through its 19” rear wheels from a 3-litre, straight-six, turbocharged engine. It’ll reach 62mph from a standing start in four seconds and features either a manual or twin-clutch paddled gearbox. 

Body Styles

  • Coupe 
  • Convertible
  • Gran Coupe
  • Active Tourer
  • Gran Tourer

Models

  • 218i
  • 220i
  • 218d
  • 220d
  • 220dx (Sport Active Tourer & Gran Tourer)
  • M235i xDrive (Gran Coupe)
  • M240i
  • M2 Competition (M2)
  • M2 CS Coupe (M2)

Advantages Of 2 Series

  • Wide range of design styles to choose from
  • All styles provide an excellent driving experience
  • Rear-wheel-drive as standard
  • Efficient engines

Disadvantages Of 2 Series

  • Rear less spacious than 1 Series in the coupe
  • More expensive than 1 Series

3 Series

BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is arguably the most iconic saloon car in the world. Available in four specs; the Sport, M Sport, M Sport Pro and M340i & M340d xDrive; the 3 Series is driving personified. 

Since its inception in the mid-1970s, the 3 Series has been BMW’s constant. It’s the company’s highest-selling car across the globe, and following the latest incarnation, the 7th generation, that shows no signs of changing. 

Available in both saloon and Tourer, you have the choice between a comfortable five-door or the same sterling ride with even more space. 

However, there’s also the head-turning M3, too. A monstrous 3-litre, twin-turbo, straight-six powertrain produces an eye-watering 425bhp, or 444bhp with the Competition spec, and comes with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox. The top-level M3 breezes its way to 62mph in under four seconds and will top out at 174mph. 

Body Styles

  • Saloon
  • Touring

Models

  • 318i
  • 320i
  • 320i xDrive
  • 330i
  • 318d
  • 320d
  • 320d xDrive
  • 330d
  • 330d xDrive
  • M340i xDrive
  • M340d xDrive
  • M3 CS

Advantages Of 3 Series

  • Engine range
  • Handling
  • Design
  • High levels of standard equipment
  • Low road noise

Disadvantages Of 3 Series

  • Lower fuel economy to some rivals
  • More powerful models can be challenging to drive in wet conditions

4 Series

BMW 4 Series

You’d be forgiven to believe that the 4 Series is simply a 3 Series Coupe. However, you’d be wrong. 

While it shares the 3 Series’ success in drive, grit and feel, the 4 Series is very much its own beast. Stunningly designed, the 4 Series comes in three forms; the Coupe, Convertible and Gran Coupe. 

Depending on your choice of engine, of which there are several – from the entry-level 420i to the 440i xDrive – you can either have a six-speed manual gearbox or BMW’s eight-speed auto, which comes as standard on all but two models.

Of course, there’s also the M Series, which packs an atomic punch. Spurred on by a 4-litre, turbocharged, straight-six, the M4 is available in both hard and soft top and will smash 62mph from nothing in less than four seconds. 

Body Styles

  • Coupe
  • Convertible
  • Gran Coupe

Models

  • 420i
  • 430i
  • 420d
  • 420d xDrive
  • 440i xDrive
  • M4 Competition

Advantages Of 4 Series

  • Stunning styling
  • Excellent handling
  • Fun to drive
  • Great engine choice

Disadvantages Of 4 Series

  • A smaller amount of cabin technology compared to some rivals

5 Series

BMW 5 Series

Since its birth in 1972, the 5 Series has always kept the same philosophy; a luxury five-door saloon which delivers a premium driving experience. 

The latest reincarnation is no different. Coming in three trim options; the SE, M Sport and M Sport Edition. A choice from 17” to 20” alloy wheels span the range as well as a plethora of aesthetics and two engine options – either a six or four-cylinder.

There is also, of course, the track-focussed M5, which combines practicality and performance like no other car in its class. It’ll conquer 0-62 in 3.3 seconds despite being littered with technology, offering a 530-litre boot – which given its all-wheel-drive system is very impressive –  and has more than enough space for five adults. 

Body Styles

  • Saloon
  • Touring

Models

  • 520i
  • 520d
  • 520d xDrive
  • 530d xDrive
  • M5
  • M Competition

Advantages Of 5 Series

  • Excellent driving experience
  • Economical engines
  • Stunning attention to detail 
  • Very well equipped

Disadvantages Of 4 Series

  • No manual gearbox available

6 Series

BMW 6 Series

BMW bill the 6-Series as “timeless elegance”, and it’s hard to disagree. The newest version comes only in the shape of a four-door Gran Turismo coupe, has two different trim options – the SE and M Sport – and provides an appealing mix of luxury and sports styling. 

You have the choice of both petrol and diesel ranges, as well as rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive. 

There’s no new M6 available – yet anyway, there may be in the future – but you can get hold of a pre-owned version if you want a sports-focused injection. 

Body Styles

  • Gran Coupe

Models

  • 630i
  • 640i
  • 640i xDrive
  • 620d
  • 620d xDrive
  • 630d
  • 630d xDrive

Advantages Of 6 Series

  • Excellent engine range
  • Stunning styling
  • Great to live with day-to-day
  • The option of rear and all-wheel-drive

Disadvantages Of 6 Series

  • Less space than the 5 Series
  • Only two rear seats

7 Series

BMW 7 Series

The 7 Series is BMW’s flagship luxury saloon. No craftsmanship too fine, no material too expensive; it’s truly an automotive paradise. 

It makes sense then that the 7 Series comes with features such as full HD touchscreens, a panoramic roof – which BMW label the “Sky Lounge” – and massage seats. 

The 7 Series comes in two variants; the standard saloon and the long-wheelbase model, which adds around an extra 200mm for added comfort. 

Body Styles

  • Saloon
  • Saloon LWB

Models

  • 740i
  • 750i
  • 730d
  • 730d xDrive
  • 740d xDrive

Advantages Of 7 Series

  • Driving at its most luxurious
  • Surprisingly powerful 
  • Excellent experience behind the wheel

Disadvantages Of 7 Series

  • Only two rear seats
  • Divisive styling

8 Series

BMW 8 Series

It’s hard not to look at the BMW 8 Series and think naughty things. It’s absolutely stunning from every angle, no matter which version you choose. 

Both the Coupe and Gran Coupe and verging on explicit, but the convertible passes that line. 

The exterior is made up from a mixture of metal and carbon fibre – as is the case with the 7 Series – and inside provides luxury and space. 

Unlike the 6 and the 7, the 8 Series does come with an M version. BMW say it raises the bar of their whole M division. Within it, not only do you have access to more than 500bhp, but an instinctive differential, compound brakes, a racetrack cooling system and you can even enhance the exhaust noise. 

Body Styles

  • Coupe
  • Gran Coupe
  • Convertible

Models

  • 840i xDrive
  • 840d xDrive
  • M8

Advantages Of 8 Series

  • Sensational driving performance
  • Exceptional quality
  • Features Apple’s iDrive in-car system

Disadvantages Of 8 Series

  • Can be expensive to own

Z Series

The BMW Z Series is the company’s line of roadsters. Starting out in 1989 with the Z1, the German automakers have dipped their toe in and out of the drop-top sports car market over the years. But with their latest incarnation; the Z4, they look as though they could be here to stay. 

Z4

BMW Z4

The Z4 is BMW’s only option when it comes to an out-and-out petrol-powered sports car. Yes, they have the M range, but they’re hot versions of cars that already exist. The Z4 starts and lives life with one goal; enjoyment. 

Stunning with both the roof up and down, the Z4 comes with two trims to choose from; the Sport and M Sport. There are three engine options available – all of which are turbocharged six-cylinder powertrains – producing between 197bhp and 340bhp. 

At the top end, you’ll reach 62mph from a standing start in 4.5 seconds. With the entry-level spec, it’ll take you a little over two seconds more. 

Stunning with both the roof up and down, inside the cockpit is awash with plush leather and easy-to-use technology, all displayed in a minimalist modern styling. 

Body Styles

  • Roadster

Models

  • sDrive 20i
  • sDrive 30i
  • M40i

Advantages Of Z4

  • Superb top-end engine
  • Offers both sportiness and comfort
  • Great infotainment system

Disadvantages Of Z4

  • Less aggressive drive compared to others in its class
  • Low power entry-level engines

X Series

The BMW X Series is the company’s Sports Activity Vehicle, or SAV, range. 

Based loosely on their hatchback, saloon and coupe counterparts, the X Series adheres to the growing public desire for bigger, more aggressive vehicles. 

However, as opposed to the standard Series, where there are eight cars, the Sports Activity Vehicle range only has seven, starting from the X1 up to the X7. 

X1

BMW X1

The X1 is BMW’s most compact off-roader. But despite its size, versatility is still a strong point, and it’s a lot more spacious inside than you might think. 

On the spec front, you have four trim options; the SE, X-Line, Sport and M Sport, as well as power up to 192bhp in the petrol-powered xDrive20i. Although it’s billed as an off-roader, you can still have front-wheel-drive only, albeit there is an all-wheel-drive option at all spec levels. 

Body Styles

  • SAV

Models

  • sDrive18i
  • sDrive20i
  • xDrive20i
  • sDrive18d
  • xDrive18d
  • xDrive20d

Advantages Of X1

  • Strong vehicle performance
  • Excellent balance and handling
  • Lots of cabin space
  • Great styling

Disadvantages Of X1

  • Interior not as up to date as other models
  • More expensive than most competitors

X2

BMW X2

The X2, much like the 2 Series to the 1, is a sportier take on the compact SAV range. BMW calls the X2 a Sports Activity Coupe, rather than a vehicle. And given its slightly more contemporary styling compared to a standard off-roader, it’s hard to say they’re wrong. 

Setting its sights firmly towards the success of the Range Rover Evoque, the X2 is lower, sleeker and more nimble to drive than the X1. The X2 features adaptive suspension, meaning it’ll adjust to the terrain it’s tackling automatically, a double-clutch paddled sports gearbox and the option of a new generation four-cylinder twin-turbo 2-litre petrol engine. 

Again, when choosing your trim you have four options; the SE, Sport, M Sport and M Sport X. This was the first vehicle BMW chose for it’s M Sport X styling, and for your money, you get an improved aerodynamics package, more prominent wheel arches and sills, chunkier alloys and a Dakota leather interior. 

Power wise, the entry-level X2 engine produces around 140bhp, while you can choose to upgrade that to 192bhp in both front and all-wheel-drive. 

However, for ultimate performance, BMW also provides a 306bhp version in the form of an M-inspired power unit which will take you to 62mph in under five seconds. 

Body Styles

  • SAC

Models

  • sDrive18i
  • sDrive20i
  • xDrive20i
  • sDrive18d
  • xDrive18d
  • xDrive20d
  • M35i

Advantages Of X2

  • Excellent powertrains
  • Stand-out styling
  • Modern interior
  • Fun to drive

Disadvantages Of X2

  • Less space than X1
  • More expensive than X1

X3

BMW X3

The BMW X3 was once the forgotten child of BMW. It was there just to be there. But that’s no longer the case. 

This latest incarnation of the X3 is actually bigger than the original X5, and BMW has certainly taken advantage of that space. Three specs to choose from; the SE, xLine and M Sport, as well as a range of petrol and diesel powertrains make this a standout in its class on driving alone. 

On the inside, BMW appears to have spared no expense. An airy, light cockpit is complemented by the company’s latest infotainment system. With its size, the cabin remains comfortable off-road or on long motorway journeys. And although it’s bigger than it ever has been before, smart manufacturing has made the X3 lighter than its predecessor, meaning it’s more fun in the corners and more responsive when you put your foot down. 

The X3 also comes with a hardened M model. This 510bhp brute takes its momentum from a 3-litre, six-cylinder, twin-turbo engine which blasts from 0-62mph in a little over four seconds. 

Body Styles

  • SAV

Models

  • xDrive20i
  • xDrive20d
  • xDrive 30d
  • M40i
  • M40d
  • M Competition

Advantages Of X3

  • Stunning interior
  • Excellent handling
  • Lots of high-tech options
  • Strong engines
  • Big boot

Disadvantages Of X3

  • Although strong, a lower number of engines to choose from than other models
  • Top-end petrol engines can be uneconomical

X4

BMW X4

Like the standard Series, the X4 provides a sportier, more nimble offering than the X3. And like the X2, BMW labels the X4 as a Sports Activity Coupe, rather than a more conventional off-roader. 

Spec wise, instead of the SE and xLine, you have the choice of Sport, M Sport and M Sport X trim, really highlighting the are of the market BMW believes this car belongs. 

Aside from the M version, the X4 only comes with diesel powertrains, and there’s no option for two-wheel-drive. 

Speaking of the M, you have the choice of either a petrol or diesel engine, both of which will get you to 62 in under five seconds. 

Body Styles

  • SAC

Models

  • xDrive20d
  • xDrive 30d
  • M40i
  • M40d
  • M Competition

Advantages Of X4

  • Surprisingly spacious inside despite coupe label
  • Excellent equipment as standard
  • Modern interior

Disadvantages Of X4

  • Divisive styling
  • Less practical than X3

X5

BMW X5

The original BMW SAV, the X5 has been around for more than two decades. But don’t think it hasn’t evolved in that time. 

The most recent version focuses its attention towards luxury, connectivity and performance, while its styling has also taken on a new chapter. An enlarged one-piece kidney grille up front coexists with a more upright overall design; accentuating the X5’s stature both physically and in a motoring hierarchal sense. 

With the X5 you have two trims to choose from; the xLine and M Sport. The main difference between the two being an aerodynamic pack on the M Sport, more aesthetic alloy wheels and a sporty steering wheel. 

The X5 also brings with it an M variant, which houses a 4.4-litre powertrain which produces 625bhp and takes just 3.8 seconds to hit 62mph.  

Body Styles

  • SAV

Models

  • xDrive 40i
  • xDrive 30d
  • xDrive 40d
  • M50i
  • M50d
  • M Competition

Advantages Of X5

  • Great drive both on and off-road
  • Comfortable no matter the terrain
  • Strong engines
  • Rich, luxurious cabin

Disadvantages Of X5

  • Size difficult to manage in the city
  • Boot not as big as competitors’

X6

BMW X6

Following the trend, BMW’s X6 is a SAC spin-off of the conventional X5. But it certainly hasn’t been overlooked by the Germans. 

Stunning exterior design is matched only by the ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing interior, which doesn’t lose much space to the X5 despite its sloped roof. You’re provided two options in trim; the Sport and M Sport – the latter adding aerodynamic styling, a new braking system and an M steering wheel.

Under the bonnet, you’re provided three standard engine choices – one petrol and two diesel – all of which will get you to 62mph between around five and six seconds, as well as two M versions, as is the case with the X5. 

But the X6 does come with its own little party piece. It’s what BMW calls the Iconic Glow Kidney Grille. Essentially, a light-up grille which looks incredibly smart when driving at night. 

As you’d expect, there’s also an M version of the X6. Like the X5, it houses the most powerful engine on the BMW production line; a 4.4-litre, twin-turbo, eight-cylinder beast which produces 625bhp and 750Nm of torque. All this power gets you from 0-62 in just 3.8 seconds, which, for a car of this size, is madness. 

Body Styles

  • SAC

Models

  • xDrive 40i
  • xDrive 30d
  • xDrive 40d
  • M50i
  • M50d
  • M Competition

Advantages Of X6

  • Great drive both on and off-road
  • Comfortable no matter the terrain
  • Strong engines
  • Rich, luxurious cabin

Disadvantages Of X6

  • Size difficult to manage in the city
  • Slightly less space than the X5

X7

BMW X7

The BMW X7 rewrites the rule book on luxury vehicles. From its first inch to its last, the X7 is refined and relaxing, but on a massive scale. 

Alloys which measure up to a huge 21”, the choice of six or seven seats – depending on if you’d prefer two thrones or a plush three-seater bench on the second row – and an unmissable front grille, in the X7 you’re going to be noticed. But that’s the point. 

Inside, you’re greeted with ample space, sumptuous leather, all the technology you’ll ever need and a road-conquering driving position. And that final point contributes to how good the X7 is off-road. 

Too many technological systems to count litter the X7 behind the scenes to help it become more than capable of leaving the tarmac, while they also don’t spoil the ride on it. 

With the intimidating SAV, there are two engine choices – one petrol and one diesel – although you’ll have to spring for at least the M Sport to get your hands on the diesel, with the standard X7 coming only with petrol power. 

And although there’s no outright M version of the X7, you can enjoy the speed of one, with both a diesel and petrol M engine available.

Body Styles

  • SAV

Models

  • xDrive 40i
  • xDrive 40d
  • M50i
  • M50d

Advantages Of X7

  • Unadulterated luxury
  • Huge amounts of cabin space
  • Well-equipped
  • Refined and comfortable

Disadvantages Of X7

  • Size difficult to manage in the city
  • No diesel entry-level option

i Series

BMW’s i Series is its unique electric range. The German company does offer PHEV versions of other models, which we’ll come to later, but the i is for those cars specifically designed with the future in mind. 

This isn’t a new fad, though. BMW has been testing and developing electric cars since the Munich Olympics in 1972. And they’ve used that knowledge to create their two options of today; the everyday all-electric i3, and the sporty hybrid i8. 

i3

BMW i3

The i3 is BMW’s hatchback-sized battery-powered contribution to the world. Distinctive in style, the i3 comes in two styles; the original i3 and sportier i3s. 

They’re both powered by the same synchronous electric motor with a single gear drawing from a lithium-ion high-voltage battery with a capacity of 94Ah (33kWh). 

The green power source gives the original i3 170bhp, a range of 186 miles, a top speed of 93mph and a 0-62 time of 7.3 seconds. Meanwhile, the sportier s possesses an extra 14bhp, which may not sound a lot, but you can certainly feel the difference. 

The s also comes with a different roof, bumpers, lower sports suspension and upgraded alloy wheels. On top of that, you also get Dynamic Traction Control, which, as well as a few other driving improvements, gives you the ability to drift the i3. 

Body Styles

  • Hatchback

Models

  • i3
  • i3s

Advantages Of i3

  • Distinctive styling
  • Clean, spacious interior
  • No emissions
  • Fast acceleration
  • Fun to drive

Disadvantages Of i3

  • Small boot
  • Can be expensive

i8

BMW i8

The i8 is BMW’s answer to the hybrid sports car. With a small mid-mounted petrol engine producing 231bhp accompanied by an electric powertrain at the front churning out another 143bhp, the i8 tops out at an impressive 374bhp. 

With the combination, you’re afforded three driving styles. An all-petrol drive, which will roughly match the performance of an M4, a combined drive, where you’re using the internal combustion engine and batteries in unison, and an all-electric drive, which will take you up to 75mph.

To improve performance and efficiency, the i8 is also delicately styled and comparatively light when considering other cars of this style and size. Aerodynamic focus and plenty of carbon fibre ensure you get the most out of your fuel tanks, whether that’s petrol or electric. 

You can even enjoy this motoring experience without a roof thanks to the i8 Roadster. And despite a stiffer body and the addition of heavy roof mechanics, there’s very little to split the Roadster and original performance-wise.

Body Styles

  • Coupe
  • Roadster

Models

  • i8
  • i8 Roadster

Advantages Of i8

  • Distinctive styling
  • Modern interior
  • Excellent driving experience
  • No emissions
  • Fast acceleration
  • Fun to drive
  • Choice of driving styles

Disadvantages Of i8

  • Poor visibility
  • Slower than other petrol vehicles in its price range

PHEV Series

PHEV stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. And with the world trying to move more towards a greener driving experience, BMW offers the chance for you to swap out an all-combustion engine for one which is aided by batteries on several models. 

By choosing a PHEV model, only the way it’s powered is changed, so all of the above still stands. And so we’re not repeating ourselves, we’ll just list which models have the option and the power they produce. 

2 Series Active Tourer

Body Style

Active Tourer

Model

225xe

Power

224bhp

3 Series 

Body Style

Saloon

Touring

Model

330e

330e xDrive

Power

292bhp

5 Series

Body Style

Saloon

Model

530e

530 xDrive

Power

292bhp

7 Series

Body Style

Saloon

Model

745e

Power

394bhp

X1

Body Style

SAV

Model

xDrive25e

Power

220bhp

X3

Body Style

SAV

Model

xDrive30e

Power

292bhp

X5

Body Style

SAV

Model

xDrive45e

Power

394bhp