Guide to BMW Models: Explore the Differences Among BMW Series Cars


Buying a BMW is an exciting prospect and, admittedly, it’s an experience with a slight learning curve. The number-centric naming convention BMW uses on its vehicles can be a bit bewildering to the BMW newcomer, but don’t fret! We’ve all been there and we’d like to help take some of the intimidation out of buying a new BMW with our guide to BMW models and what those numbers mean.

Understanding the BMW Vehicle Series

There is a wide variety of BMW vehicles for sale at a wide range of prices. With BMW sedans and coupes, as the series number rises, generally so does the performance, available features and starting MSRP. Here’s another helpful tip: odd numbered series are sedans and even numbered series are coupes. Currently, BMW offers the 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, 6 Series, and 7 Series, as well as X models, the Z4, M models and the BMW i line.  

The badge on the trunk of a BMW vehicle will show a three-number distinction starting with the vehicle series number. The next two numbers provide a general idea of the vehicle’s performance as compared to other vehicles within the series.

Breaking Down a BMW Model Number

Let’s start with the 2018 BMW 5 Series as an example. The BMW 5 Series is a mid-size four-door sedan that’s available in multiple trims. Starting with the BMW 530i, this lowest BMW 5 Series trim offers a 248-horsepower 2-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline four-cylinder engine. The next trim up, the BMW 530e iPerformance is powered by a 2-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline-four engine and an eDrive 111-horsepower motor, putting out a total of 248 horsepower. The BMW 540i contains a 3-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo inline-six engine that puts out 335 horsepower. At the top of the line, the BMW M550i uses the powerhouse BMW 4.4-liter M Performance TwinPower Turbo V8 that produces 456 horsepower.

Each 5 Series trim, except for the M550i, is available with xDrive all-wheel drive and sDrive rear-wheel drive. The M550i is only available with xDrive. The BMW 5 Series also is available as a Gran Turismo variant that offers a higher driving positon and a trunk that opens like a wagon.

Here’s how the model number breaks down for the BMW 540i xDrive:

5 series (Car size, type): This vehicle is a sedan, so the series uses an odd number. The 5 Series is near the upper end of the line in terms of spaciousness.  

40 (Performance): 40 is larger than 30, but smaller than 50, so you can correctly assume that the performance of the 540 is somewhere between the 530i and the M550i.

i (Engine type): This vehicle is fuel injected.

xDrive (Drivetrain): This vehicle is all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel-drive drivetrains are called sDrive.

We’re also looking forward to the upcoming 2018 M5 that will bring an even bigger powerplant to the 5 Series platform. Details are hard to confirm at this stage of development, but signs are pointing to a 600 horsepower engine that will give the car a 4-second 0-60 time. Come visit Yark Auto and BMW of Toledo to test drive this vehicle as soon as we take delivery! 

Compare BMW Coupes: The 2 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series

BMW’s line of coupes starts with the BMW 2 Series. The 2 Series is a modestly priced and modestly sized luxury coupe that’s available with either the 2-liter TwinPower Turbo inline four-cylinder engine in the 230i or the 3-liter BMW TwinPower inline six-cylinder engine in the M240i. The 2 Series also is available as a convertible.

The BMW 4 Series includes the 2-liter 430i and the 3-liter 440i, available as rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The BMW 4 Series is available as a coupe, a convertible or a Gran Coupe, which has four doors. The 4 Series has a lower-profile appearance than the 2 Series and is slightly longer. The extra length of the 4 Series means you’ll have more interior space.

The largest coupe BMW makes is the 6 Series. This palace of a car is not only spacious, but very powerful. The base model, the BMW 650i, is powered by a 4.4-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo V8 that produces 445 horsepower. The 6 Series convertible model is available as the 3-liter 640i and the turbo V8 650i. You can also find the 6 Series as a four-door Gran Coupe.

Compare BMW Sedans: The 3 Series, 5 Series and 7 Series

The BMW 3 Series is offered as a Gran Turismo (330i, 340i), a Sports Wagon (330i, Diesel 328d) and a Sedan (320i, 330i, Diesel 328d, 330e iPerformance and 340i).  

If you’re looking for a BMW 5 Series, you’ll find this vehicle as in Gran Turismo and Sedan variants. The Gran Turismo can be had in either the 3-liter 535i trim, or the 4.4-liter turbo V8 550i trim. You have the choice of four trims with the BMW 5 Series: The 2-liter 530i, the gas/electric 2-liter BMW TwinPower and eDrive 111-horsepower electric motor, the 3-liter 540i, or the powerful M550i V8.

At the top, the full-size 7 Series offers you the choice of the 3-liter 740i, the gas/electric 740e iPerformance, the 4.4-liter 750i or the ultra-powerful M760i with a 601-horsepower 6.6-liter V12.

Come Test Drive a BMW in Toledo at a Yark Automotive Group Dealership!

Learn more about BMW’s flagship coupes and sedans when you visit our dealership in Toledo, OH! At Yark Automotive Group and BMW of Toledo, we’ve got a wide selection of BMW coupes and sedans ready for you to test drive. We’ve got friendly and knowledgeable staff members who can answer your questions about BMW vehicles for sale near Perrysburg, OH. We’ve also got a well-trained team of technicians who can keep your new BMW running in top shape with high-quality auto service. If you’re looking for a new BMW near Sylvania, OH, visit our BMW dealership today!

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