5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

The new 3-series may be lighter than its predecessor, but it has grown again, and now its dimensions eclipse some pretty surprising cars from BMW's back-catalogue
5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

It’s pretty normal for an all-new car to be bigger than the one that went before. It’s an easy way to make it more spacious, give it a bigger boot or even switch it to a shared platform to cut costs. But as the years pass, it means that new ‘compact’ models end up being larger in one or more dimensions than older models from one or even two size classes above.

The G20 3-series, which was leaked and then fully unveiled earlier this week, has had a growth spurt (while, impressively, also dropping weight). The list of old - and not so old - BMWs it’s now longer, wider or taller than makes for interesting reading…

E28 5-series

5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

The second-generation 5-series, a full size saloon and a large family car at the time of its launch in 1981, was full of Bavarian charm with willing four- and six-cylinder engines, plus a lumpy diesel for the first time in a 5er. It measured 4620mm nose to tail but the G20 3-series has expanded to 4709mm; almost 9cm longer. In case you’re wondering, the E28’s successor, the E34, ballooned to 4720mm.

E39 5-series

5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

What is possibly the best-looking 5-series ever made was also the first one not to offer an all-wheel drive option. Its timeless proportions saw it span an 1800mm chunk of the road. The G20 3er, on the other hand, thanks to the current market trend for wider, more overtly muscular-looking cars, measures 1827mm across. The new 3-series is also only 66mm shorter - line these two side by side, and the ‘junior’ car will look damn near as long.

E53 X5

5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

Yep, the new 3 Series is bigger than the first X5; longer, to be precise. The X5 was considered to be a large and deeply obnoxious family car when it launched in 2000; an unnecessary, oversized lump that many people hated… and that many people secretly coveted, as today’s SUV boom proves. Its 4666mm length is trumped by the G20’s 4709mm. Hard to believe, isn’t it?

E32 7 Series

5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

BMW’s second 7-series was a wafty, comfortable and luxurious way to travel. It was also seriously well engineered. Sure, the panels rusted and the suspension gradually sagged, but the engines just kept going. Neighbours of mine ran a 1990 model from new for about 25 years before I moved areas. It was rusty as hell but ran like a dream. Anyway, despite being the largest and flagship four-door of its day, its 1400mm roof height is actually lower than the new 3-series’ 1442mm.


5 BMWs The New 3-Series Is Unexpectedly Larger Than

There is no way the new 3-series is longer than the i8, I thought to myself. Nope. Definitely not. I’ll look up the figures and prove that wro-ohmygod, it actually is longer and the world has turned inside out. The low, long-looking hybrid sports car measures 4689mm front to back; 20mm shy of the new 3er’s overall length. It seems like the 3-series, however good it’s going to be thanks to its extra space and weight cut, isn’t really all that compact any more…


ShadowHuayra (HemiPower)

Obesity isn’t just a people problem, it’s a car problem too

10/06/2018 - 14:43 |
236 | 0

Absolutely. A current VW Up is the size of a Mk1 Golf.

10/06/2018 - 18:01 |
88 | 2

but it’s lighter

10/06/2018 - 19:32 |
12 | 2

The new 3 series is bigger than a Flagship luxury SUV and the old 7 series?

Just woah

10/06/2018 - 14:49 |
32 | 0


10/06/2018 - 23:01 |
0 | 0

There’s probably going to be big M3 memes soon because of this

10/08/2018 - 07:23 |
4 | 0
Nishant Dash

Top 10 Reasons why I’ve given up on modern BMWs (except the M2) and why you should too:

10/06/2018 - 14:50 |
92 | 8

But yet people still buy em

10/06/2018 - 15:39 |
0 | 0

I don’t know and I will never understand why people get so hanged up on the outside dimension of the car. Upsizing is a general trend in automotive industry, and not a problem that is limited to one or two manufacture, and consumer still have plenty of small size option anyway when they are car shopping.

10/06/2018 - 18:52 |
2 | 2
RodriguezRacer456 (Aventador SV) (Lambo Squad)

In reply to by Nishant Dash

I immediately do the opposite of whatever people on the internet tell me I should or shouldn’t do

10/06/2018 - 19:31 |
0 | 0

For such a big car it’s pretty light.

10/06/2018 - 19:50 |
0 | 0
Marco Q (hi)

That’s why I don’t like new cars, if you were to take this to a track you couldn’t even take a great line because of the thing’s size smh

10/06/2018 - 14:56 |
2 | 12

Why on earth would you take it to a track?

It’s not an M3

10/06/2018 - 21:24 |
0 | 0

Remember the M8 at Le Mans? Wait the m4/m3 in dtm

10/06/2018 - 15:05 |
2 | 2

As long as people wanted more room, cars will be going bigger

10/06/2018 - 15:05 |
0 | 0

Unpopular opinion: i think that’s a good evolution, because with it comes space for technology and safety equipment. There is a reason why cars get bigger; stuff the nice, comfortable interior together with all the technology and safety measures into an old, small car and you have about 0 space for a human.

10/06/2018 - 15:07 |
26 | 4

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I don’t give a f about tech, All I want in a car is A/C and electric windows(with the latter being optional).

10/06/2018 - 16:04 |
14 | 4
James 33

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah well I disagree with you completely

10/06/2018 - 17:01 |
8 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

For a 5 or 7 series that would be understandeable. But the 3 is meant to be the SMALL car.

10/06/2018 - 18:01 |
8 | 0
🎺🎺thank mr skeltal

In awe at the size of this lad. Absolute unit.

10/06/2018 - 15:49 |
12 | 2

Fun fact: cars get bigger because the people WHO ACTUALY BUY THEM want bigger cars

10/06/2018 - 15:51 |
18 | 2
Elliot James

In reply to by Hydros

Good point, if anything its better value for money. People who want a large car for their family can now settle for a 3 series instead of shelling out money for a 5

10/07/2018 - 15:17 |
4 | 0

E32 is damn sexy.
As is the E34

10/06/2018 - 16:02 |
10 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

For sure!

10/08/2018 - 18:07 |
2 | 0



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