Which BMW Model Do I Have?

Agata Przewozna
Oct 20, 2020

In this article we will outline all the BMW series and model information you might need. Understanding the letters and numbers BMW uses to refer to its vehicles is easier than you think.

Which BMW model do I Have?

Why do I need to know my BMW model? 

Stating the obvious: BMW series, models and model years of vehicles differ from one another when it comes to their safety features, engine size, body and chassis style and transmission type, as well as in terms of the OEM equipment they're kitted out with. BMW's current model lineup is grouped in 18 different series, with some series being modern versions of their older predecessors. However, there is far more to it, considering the overlapping BMW model terminology, and we admit it can get a little confusing.   

So why would you need this complex knowledge? 

  1. You should be fully aware of a specific model's features before you buy the car of your dreams. For some of us a vehicle is like a second home, and you should feel this way while driving. 
  2. After you make a buying decision, you have to take into account that at some point your BMW will require repairs or replacement parts. Whichever garage or shop you choose — whether it’s physical or online — you will definitely be asked about your series, model and the year of production.

We're pretty sure you will eventually feel the need to retrofit your BMW with some juicy upgrades. For that, knowledge on your model, and therefore original OEM equipment, is indispensable. 

BMW model numbers explained

Basic information — what do BMW model numbers mean?

The most basic information about your model is quite easy to find. You just need to take a look at the back of your car:

BMW model numbers explained

This car is a 335i, but it could also be a 320d or similar. What information we can get out of this? The first digit, ‘3’, stands for the series (so 3 Series in this case) and the last two numbers in a model name refer to the engine. These numbers used to match the engine’s capacity, i.e. 320i stood for 2.0 l while 335d meant a 3.5 l engine. Due to downsizing over the decades as engine technology has developed, this is no longer the case. 

What BMW model is the fastest then? Within one engine type (e.g. gasoline), we can say that a higher number means a better performing engine, though not necessarily bigger. The sixth-generation 330i's engine is considerably more powerful than the 320i's, with far more horsepower, even though they're both 2.0 engines. So a higher number is a signal of better performance.

Comparing across engine and fuel types is a bit more complicated given the different performance of gas and diesel engines. For example, a sixth-generation 335d does have a bigger engine than a 320i, but on the other hand, a 316d has a 2.0 l engine compared to the 1.5 l engine of the 318i. A 325d, meanwhile, also has a 2.0 l engine, the same capacity as the 316d (and 330i).

We can say that a _40d and a _40i are both going to have pretty high-performance engines relative to other diesel and gasoline engines in the same model generation, and _18d and _18i are both going to be comparatively low-performance for what they are. 

Basic information — what do BMW model numbers mean?

SUV, Roadster or M Sport

Instead of the pattern outlined above (330i, 540d etc.), some vehicles carry names like X3, Z4 or M1, which we can also decipher. In this case ‘X’ means an SUV or crossover, ‘Z’ is a roadster and ‘M’ is associated with the cult M Sport series manufactured by BMW's motorsport division, with special tuning and styling (e.g. F83 M4). Nonetheless, in many cases this kind of model knowledge still isn't enough. 

E, F and G series — what are BMW model codes?

Now we're getting into more serious territory, letting us discover much more precise information about a vehicle. First, it's important to understand the differentiation between three series BMW uses internally: E, F or G. What are they then? Starting in the late 1960’s, all BMW models were assigned to the ‘E’ Series, paired with a number (like E9, E12 or E21) to identify a specific chassis. ‘E’ stands for the German Entwicklung, or development. When the ‘E’ numbers started going into high double digits, the company decided in 2008 to introduce the ‘F’ Series. And what is the newest BMW model? Another development step saw the introduction of the ‘G’ moniker in 2016. ‘G’ is used for the latest BMW models, manufactured after 2016.

Find out about the F series F30 in this blog post.

BMW model comparison and differences

Let’s assume you have an F30. The BMW internal model code F30 refers to the sixth-generation 3 Series sedan, produced between 2011 and 2019. This model code differentiates it from 3 Series vehicles from other BMW generations, like the E90, E46 and E36, as well as 3 Series vehicles from the same generation with different body styles, like the F31 Touring or the F34 Gran Turismo. BMW uses this internal model code to differentiate body styles of various models, yet all 3 Series models of a given generation have many features in common, including engine options. 

Your car series and model may also include this abbreviation: LCI. It stands for Life Cycle Impulse (in e.g. E92 LCI or F30 LCI) and it is a facelifted version BMW tends to introduce around 3 or 4 years into a model's production run. This refresh often updates body style, electronics, chassis but also head units. 

To give your own car a refresh, you might also want to learn more about the head unit upgrade options for different Series.

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With series, year and body style, it's easy to figure out what your vehicle’s E series is (i.e. your vehicle's internal model code). Knowing the E series will be crucial when it comes to upgrade your vehicle or replace a few parts. Let’s say you want to exchange the headlights — as you can see below, they can be very different even within the same series, therefore we need precise knowledge of our BMW model to be sure we get the right part for our car. 

BMW headlights

It's the same story for the retrofits. Say you want to upgrade your vehicle with the BimmerTech Power Trunk Release. Compatibility of this product will mostly depend on your car’s body style.   

How to identify BMW model?

How to identify BMW model?

The below table is a BMW & MINI models list for all cars manufactured after 1997, to help you check your vehicle's model code:

1 series body style 2 series body style 3 series body style
E81 (2006-2011) hatchback F22 (2012-2019) coupé E46 (1997-2018) 4-door sedan/saloon
2-door coupé
2-door convertible
5-door wagon/estate
3-door hatchback
E82 (2004-2011) coupé hatchback F22 LCI (2016-2019) coupé E90 (2004-2008) sedan
E87 (2003-2007) hatchback F23 (2014-2017) convertible E90 LCI (2007-2012) sedan
E87 LCI (2006-2011) hatchback F23 LCI (2016-2019) convertible E91 (2007-2012) wagon
E88 (2006-2013) convertible F44 (2019) gran coupé E92 (2005-2010) coupé
F20 (2010-2015) hatchback F45 Active Tourer (2013-2018) active tourer E92 LCI (2008-2013) coupé
F20 LCI (2014-2019) hatchback F45 Active Tourer LCI (2017-2019) active tourer E93 (2005-2010) convertible
F21 (2011-2019) hatchback F46 Gran Tourer (2014-2018) gran tourer F30 (2011-2016) sedan
F52 (2015-2019) sedan F46 Gran Tourer LCI (2017-2019) gran tourer F30 LCI (2014-2019) sedan
  F87 M2 LCI (2016-2019) coupé F31 (2011-2015) wagon
  F31 LCI (2014-2019) wagon
F34 GT (2012-2016) gran turismo
F35 (2011-2015) sedan
F35 LCI (2015-2019) sedan
F80 M3 (2012-2015) sedan
F80 M3 LCI (2015-2018) sedan
G20 (2017-2019) sedan
4 series body style 5 series body style 6 series body style
F32 LCI (2016-2019) coupé E60 (2001-2009) sedan E63 (2002-2010) coupé
F82 M4 (2013-2017) coupé E60 LCI (2005-2010) sedan E63 LCI (2006-2010) coupé
F82 M4 LCI (2016-2019) coupé E61 (2002-2007) wagon/touring E64 (2002-2010) convertible
F33 (2013-2017) convertible E61 LCI (2005-2010) wagon/touring E64 LCI (2006-2010) convertible
F33 LCI (2016-2019) convertible F07 GT (2008-2013) gran turismo F06 Gran Coupe (2011-2015) gran coupé
F83 M4 (2013-2017) convertible F07 GT LCI (2012-2017) gran turismo F06 Gran Coupe LCI (2014-2018) gran coupé
F83 M4 LCI (2016-2019) convertible F10 (2009-2016) sedan F12 (2009-2015) convertible
F36 Gran Coupé (2013-2017) gran coupé F10 LCI (2012-2016) sedan F12 LCI (2014-2018) convertible
F36 Gran Coupé LCI (2016-2019) gran coupé F11 (2009-2013) wagon/touring F13 (2010-2015) gran coupé
  F11 LCI (2012-2017) wagon/touring F13 LCI (2014-2017) gran coupé
F18 (2009-2013) sedan G32 GT (2016-2019) gran turismo
F18 LCI (2012-2017) sedan  
G30 (2015-2019) sedan
F90 M5 (2016-2019) sedan
G31 (2016-2019) wagon
G38 (2016-2019) saloon
7 series body style 8 series body style MINI body style
E65 (2000-2008) sedan G14 (2017-2019) gran tourer R50 hatchback
E66 (2000-2008) sedan G15 (2017-2019) gran tourer R52 convertible
E67 (2002-2008) sedan G16 (2017-2019) gran tourer R53 hatchback
E68 (2001-2008) sedan   R56 hatchback
F01 (2007-2012) sedan R56 LCI hatchback
F01 LCI (2011-2015) sedan R57 convertible
F02 (2007-2012) sedan F55 hatchback
F02 LCI (2011-2015) sedan F56 hatchback
F03 (2008-2012) sedan F57 convertible
F04 Hybrid (2008-2012) sedan Clubman R55 wagon
G11 (2014-2019) sedan Clubman R55 LCI wagon
G11 LCI (2018-2019) sedan Clubman F54 wagon
G12 (2014-2019) sedan  
G12 LCI (2018-2019) sedan
X1 series body style X2 series body style X3 series body style
E84 (2008-2015) SUV F39 (2016-2019) SUV E83 (2003-2006) SUV
F48 (2014-2019) SUV   E83 LCI (2006-2010) SUV
F49 (2014-2019) SUV F25 (2009-2017) SUV
  G01 (2016-2019) SUV
G08 (2017-2019) SUV
X4 series body style X5 series body style X6 series body style
F26 (2013-2018) SUV E53 (1998-2006) SUV E71 (2007-2014) crossover SUV
G02 (2017-2019) SUV E70 (2006-2013) SUV E72 Hybrid (2008-2011) crossover SUV
  E70 LCI (2009-2013) SUV F16 (2013-2019) crossover SUV
F15 (2012-2018) SUV M F86 (2013-2019) crossover SUV
M F85 (2013-2018) SUV  
G05 (2017-2019) SUV
X7 series body style i3 series body style i8 series body style
G07 (2017-2019) SUV I01 (2013-2017) hatchback I12 (2013-2018) coupé
  I01 LCI (2017-2019) hatchback I12 LCI (2016-2019) coupé
    I15 (2017-2019) roadster
Z4 series body style Z8 series body style
E85 (2002-2008) roadster E52 (2000-2003) roadster
E86 (2005-2008) roadster  
E89 (2008-2016) roadster
G29 (2017-2019) roadster

VIN — what is it and what do I need it for?

At BimmerTech we're frequently asked about car model, OEM options and available retrofits. Our customers are certainly aware what BMW they have but sometimes they need a little more help working out its features. We also often advise on available upgrades for their vehicles. This knowledge requires decoding the VIN first. VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, and is a string of 17 digits printed on your BMW’s dash or on the driver’s side door jamb. Identifying your VIN is extremely important to get detailed knowledge of your car’s OEM equipment, as well as on the available hi-tech upgrades BimmerTech offers. 

To help you find out more about your car, we've implemented a professional VIN checker for our customers. Click the banner below now and get all the information you need about your BMW's series, model, head unit, engine, power, transmission, color (in case you and your wife see it differently ;)), production date, upholstery and steering system. Last but not least, you can also learn about any OEM software and hardware your BMW is equipped with, which is essential for potential further upgrades. 

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Learn more about decoding the VIN number and where it can be found in your vehicle.

VIN versus available BMW upgrades

As said, knowledge of just the model or series is simply not enough to know exactly what OEM equipment your car is kitted out with, and hence which retrofits are available for your BMW. Your upgrade options depend on the combination of the series, model, year, head unit, OEM equipment version, software and many more factors. Therefore the BimmerTech upgrade options displayed for your VIN number may vary significantly between different vehicles, not only for ‘physical products’ but also when it comes to software modifications and our two types of iDrive coding options (USB and cable coding). You can retrofit your BMW with both compatible BMW OEM manufactured products and BimmerTech own innovative hi-tech solutions.

We offer a wide range of BMW coding software products which require no hardware installation. For example, BMW Apple CarPlay activation or our simple Enhanced Bluetooth and USB update. As for hardware upgrades, we offer a BMW CarPlay retrofit, Combox or devices that provide screen mirroring for iPhone and Android devices. More serious changes, like swapping the iDrive system for an NBT Evo ID5/ID6 navigation retrofit or installing a digital instrument cluster, are also possible. 

You may also want to read more about CarPlay MMI Prime.

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You can also order a BMW front view camera (with its Grill-Friendly Front View Camera variant dedicated for F30s), BMW backup camera or BMW Remote Control Parking System to make parking up easier. We will help you choose the best option for your car based on your preferences and your vehicle’s configuration. 

Should you want to check the available BMW speaker upgrade or BMW amplifier options for your vehicle, just go to this page and enter your VIN number. As each model is fitted with a different number of speakers from the factory, knowing your model helps ensure you get the right replacements when you upgrade.  

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Learn more about the BMW audio system upgrade.  

As you can see, deciphering BMW model numbers takes a little time and effort, but the benefits of this knowledge are obvious.



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