Tips from Used Car Advisor

Car Advisor Tamotsu Todoroki

Hi, this is Tamotsu Todoroki. I am a car advisor of
I write an online column every week to take care of your vehicle. My column is all about something useful and practical for your vehicle. Please have a look once to keep your car in good condition.


The Differences Between The BMW 318 Series - Vol.175

In May of 1975, BMW premiered the 3 Series, serving as the heir-apparent to the important and popular New Class that had helped BMW break into the smaller, economy-class automobile market in the early 1960s. Not only had the New Class been a popular selling line of automobiles for the company, but it had also saved the company from financial ruin after World War II and several crises during the 1950s. With expectations high, the 3 Series had quite a set of shoes to fill if it wanted to follow in the footsteps of the New Class.

Prior to the New Class, BMW had been building larger cars with oversized, powerful engines; when they tried to break into a smaller class of automobiles, they used their famed motorcycle engines to power the vehicles. While this worked to a degree, the lack of a smaller car with good acceleration helped the company suffer, especially in the post-war years while all of German, including its industry, was trying to rebuild and rebrand themselves. The New Class of cars, however, featured smaller engines specifically designed for the automobiles. Having engines that belonged in cars helped the company assert itself as a world leader in quality and excellence, and it also helped them to steer through the murky waters of financial difficulty. Today, BMW is one of the world's largest and most stable corporations.

The designers and engineers clearly saw the challenges and met them successfully. The 3 Series has been produced over six generations and has been extended to five different body types. Winner of several awards, it is often in many top ten lists of the "year's best" models. Different body types are also highly-regarded and well-decorated within their categories. Far exceeding expectations, the 3 Series has become BMW's best-selling line of cars, accounting for nearly 30% of cars sold annually.

A model of German efficiency, even the naming accords of the 3 series fit the standard for which German automobile manufacturers have been renowned for years. The names of the different cars in the 3 series follow a standard pattern: the first number is indicative of the 3 series, and the second and third numbers describe the amount of displacement in the engines. Therefore, an automobile in the 318 series has 1.8 L engine, a 325 has a 2.5 L engine and so on.

The letters included in the name also have a specific meaning. All cars designated with "i" feature fuel-injected engines. The letters can then be combined in a way that will also describe the car, so "is" is the "sports" model; the sports model features better suspension, different sway bars and such. For models featuring the "ic" designation, this is a fuel-injected convertible. The station wagon model is designated "iT" for "touring." Inclusion of an "X" means all-wheel drive. A capital "C" indicates a coupe, and a "Csi" is a sports coupe. The designation "Ti" is used for touring (wagons) compact, while "Tii" was used on some early models and was meant to indicate a touring international model; this designation has since been suspended. Cars with the designation "M" are the hot rods of the BMW fleet; "M" itself stands for "motorsports." All of these designations are coupled with the letter i as BMW uses fuel-injection engines in the 3 Series. It should also be noted that BMW's engines all feature six-cylinders.

Notice that all of the model types use fuel-injection engines. During the 1980s, BMW experimented with some energy-efficient models. Though these are no longer produced, any 3 Series with an "e" designation was one of these efficiency-minded cars. BMW has announced plans to begin developing and selling hybrid vehicles, though no letter designation has been announced yet for incorporation into the BMW naming convention.