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BMW's compact line, the 3-Series, covered a broad range by juggling engines and body styles on a rear-drive chassis. It was the entry-level of all BMWs since the beginning of time through 2004 in Europe and 2007 in North America.

During the E30 generation (1984-1991), there were originally two engine sizes for the coupe (318i and 325e) and one for the sedan (325e). In 1985, the smaller 318i was made available for the sedan as well.

In 1986, the 318i engine size was increased to a 325 for both the coupe and sedan, while the 325e coupe was renamed as "325es".

A convertible was added to the lineup in 1987, containing a new 325iC engine size, which was also made available as the "325i" for the coupe and sedan at that time.

In 1988, the 325 and 325e merged to just one engine size (325). Plus, the coupe got two new ones: 325iX (all-wheel drive) and M3.

The 325 engine was dropped for 1989, leaving behind just the rear-wheel drive 325i. A new 325is coupe and all-wheel drive 325iX sedan were also released.

Year-to-year changesEdit

1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 Discontinued
N/A 318ti 1999
318i 4DR Sedan 323i 4DR Sedan 2000
318is 2DR Coupe 323is 2DR Coupe 1999
318i 2DR Convertible N/A 318i 2DR Convertible N/A 323i 2DR Convertible
325i 4DR Sedan 328i 4DR Sedan 2000
325i 2DR Coupe 325is 2DR Coupe 328is 2DR Coupe 1999
325i 2DR Convertible 328i 2DR Convertible
M3 2DR Coupe N/A M3 2DR Coupe 1999
N/A M3 4DR Sedan N/A 1998
N/A M3 2DR Convertible 1999
N/A Z3 1.9L 2DR Convertible Z3 2.3L 2DR Convertible 2000
N/A Z3 2.8L 2DR Convertible

1991Edit

The least expensive 318i sedan (entry-level until 1995) was powered by a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and competed with other compact sedans like Honda's Accord, Toyota's Camry and Infiniti's G20. The same car with upgraded suspension, fancier interior and a 2.5-liter inline Six was the 325i. It competed with Volvo's front-drive 850 and the Mercedes-Benz C280.

There was also a more expensive 2-door coupe built on the same wheelbase that sacrificed rear headroom for style, and a convertible version of the coupe. The convertible was available with either the Four (318iC) or the 2.5-liter Six (325iC). The coupe was had with the 4-cylinder as the 318iS and M3, or with the 6-cylinder as the 325iS. A bigger 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine with 192 horsepower, called the M3, was also made for the coupe.

The 3-series was very highly rated by car enthusiasts and quite sophisticated, but despite its high price, such expected features as limited-slip differential, metallic paint, and even cruise control were options on many models. Also optional was AST traction control. The convertible was available for ordering with an optional rollover protection system featuring dual roll bars that shoot up behind the rear seats if the car threatens to flip over.

The 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine was introduced this model year for all three body styles, replacing the 325 for the coupe and sedan.

1992Edit

The M3 and all-wheel drive 325iX were dropped when the E36 generation began starting this model year.

1993Edit

The 318iC convertible was temporarily unavailable in the U.S. market for this year.

1994Edit

A new 189-horsepower 325iC was introduced in 1994.

1995Edit

In 1995, two new models were introduced: the 318Ti and the M3.

The M3 was a high-performance model that featured a fancy leather interior, heavy-duty suspension, racy bodywork, 17-in. alloy wheels with 235/40ZR17 tires and a top speed of 137 mph at a price $3600 more than a regular 325i. It competed with the Mazda RX-7, Lexus SC 300, Mustang GT, Camaro Z-28 and other high-performance sport coupes.

The 318ti, released in Spring 1995, became the new least expensive car of all BMWs since that time.

1996Edit

In November 1995, the BMW 3-Series was updated with new engines for every body style -- a 1.9-liter 4-cylinder and 2.8-liter 6-cylinder, respectively.

Also introduced was the BMW Z3, a compact roadster convertible.

1999Edit

The 318ti was the last model available within the E36 generation.

As for all the other models, they began a new generation of the 3-Series, called the E46. Each body style got a same bigger engine than the 1998 models, the 323i, replacing the 318i. All engines remained mostly unchanged through 2000.

Retail pricesEdit

4DR SedanEdit

Model year(s) Engine size Drive List price Effective date
1991 1.8L RWD $19,900 February 10, 1991
1991 2.5L RWD $26,400 February 10, 1991
1991 2.5L AWD $31,900 February 10, 1991
1992 1.8L RWD $22,900 October 13, 1991
1992 2.5L RWD $27,990 October 13, 1991
1993 1.8L RWD $23,710 December 1, 1992
1993 2.5L RWD $29,650 December 1, 1992
1994 1.8L RWD $24,675 Q1 1994
1994 2.5L RWD $30,850 Q1 1994
1995 1.8L RWD $24,975 October 1, 1994
1995 2.5L RWD $31,450 October 1, 1994
1995 1.8L RWD $25,600 May 22, 1995
1995 2.5L RWD $32,450 May 22, 1995
1996 1.8L RWD $25,680 November 1, 1995
1996 2.8L RWD $32,900 November 1, 1995

2DR CoupeEdit

Model year(s) Engine size Drive List price Effective date
1991 1.8L RWD $21,500 February 10, 1991
1991 2.5L RWD $25,600 February 10, 1991
1991 2.5L AWD $31,100 February 10, 1991
1991 2.3L (M3) RWD $35,900 February 10, 1991
1992 1.8L RWD $23,600 February 9, 1992
1992 2.5L RWD $29,100 February 9, 1992
1993 1.8L RWD $24,810 December 1992
1993 2.5L RWD $30,950 December 1992
1994 1.8L RWD $25,800 Q1 1994
1994 2.5L RWD $32,200 Q1 1994
1995 3.0L (M3) RWD $35,800 June 19, 1994
1995 1.8L RWD $26,675 October 1994
1995 2.5L RWD $32,850 October 1994
1995 1.8L (318ti) RWD $19,900 December 8, 1994
1995 1.8L RWD $27,200 May 22, 1995
1995 2.5L RWD $33,500 May 22, 1995
1995 3.0L (M3) RWD $37,950 May 22, 1995
1996 1.8L (318ti) RWD $20,560 November 1, 1995
1996 1.8L RWD $27,700 November 1, 1995
1996 2.8L RWD $32,990 November 1, 1995

2DR ConvertibleEdit

Model year(s) Engine size List price Effective date
1991 2.5L $34,550 February 10, 1991
1992 1.8L $28,870 October 13, 1991
1992-1993 2.5L $36,320 October 13, 1991
1994 1.8L $29,900 Q1 1994
1994 2.5L $38,800 Q1 1994
1995 1.8L $31,050 October 1994
1995 2.5L $39,600 October 1994
1995 1.8L $32,000 May 22, 1995
1995 2.5L $40,900 May 22, 1995
1996 1.8L $32,750 November 1, 1995
1996 2.8L $41,390 November 1, 1995
1996 1.9L (Z3) $28,750 November 1, 1995

GalleryEdit