Request A Callback


The history of the new BMW 3 Series Saloon.

Discover how the six generations of the BMW 3 Series Saloon have evolved over time and, in doing so, created one of the most iconic BMW driving experiences.

BMW 02 Series, 1966 - 1975.

More inspiration, less generation.

Before there was a BMW 3 Series, there was the BMW 02 Series. It can’t technically claim to be a generation of the BMW 3 Series, but it did serve as the inspiration for what would be become the original E30 BMW 3 Series. This is where design elements such as the elongated hood, an upright A-pillar and shorter front overhang were first seen.

The original BMW 3 Series, 1975-1983

With a relatively steeper A-pillar and an increase in size from the BMW 114, the first BMW 3 Series (E21) was a bold statement and was quickly regarded as a car with sporty flair. Notable design features that we still know and love today are the double round headlights, the iconic twin kidney grille and the Hofmeister kink.

E30, 1982 - 1993

The second generation BMW 3 Series adopted several design features from the predecessor, such as the three-box design and the elongated hood. New features include the choice of a 2-door and 4-door saloon, as well as the convertible and touring models.

E36, 1990 - 1997

Thanks to a greater leaning towards a coupé-like design, the third generation BMW 3 Series was seen as a huge leap for the brand. Standout developments include the chrome covered kidney grill and glass-plate covered headlights.

E46, 1998 - 2005

With fresh interpretations of some classic design elements, the BMW 3 Series E46 has a distinct look and feel. Overall, the fourth generation is less rigid in its design language, while being slightly larger than previous models, with a raised roofline for increased headspace.

E90, 2005 - 2011

In 2005, BMW launched a new design philosophy that would lead to a giant leap in form and function for the BMW 3 Series. Contoured elements were introduced, which were inspired by the BMW Z4, but applied in a manner befitting of a saloon.

F30, 2011 - 2018

The sixth generation of the BMW 3 Series boasted a modern interpretation of the three-box design. The iconic kidney grille and headlights were merged together to create a strong visual front, which complemented the more contoured bonnet, while double crease lines added a sense of movement to the side profile.