An Idiot's Guide To The Confusing New BMW Line-Up

With yet another confusing addition to the BMW range - the 2-Series Active Tourer - we've put together this guide to BMW's niche-tastic range

jackie chan meme bmw 3

You'd be forgiven for finding the current BMW range ludicrously complicated. Coupe models are now given even numbers and various names like Gran Turismo, Active Tourer and Gran Coupe now grace the range. So what the hell does all of this mean? Here's a quick guide to understanding the BMW range madness.



The BMW numbering system has been given a big shake up recently. Previously, the last two digits (mostly) used to refer to the engine displacement in cubic centimetres divided by 100. These days, however, the numbers refer to performance index, as an ever increasing amount of Beemers use turbocharging to get extra power. Case in point; the M550D is actually a 3.0-litre with a bucket load of turbo boost.

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Also gone are the days of having 1-series coupe and 3-series coupe variants, which are now dubbed 2-series and 4-series respectively. That's why we've got two replacements for the old E90 M3: the M3 saloon, and the M4 coupe. The system already fits in nicely with the 5-series and its coupe equivalent, which has been called the 6-series for years. Sounds simple enough, until you get to the 4-series and 6-series Gran Coupes, which both have four doors, not two. That brings us neatly onto our next point...

Gran Coupe


There was once a simple time when a coupe meant a car with two doors. Thanks to the likes of BMW, those times are behind us. You can now buy a 4-series or 6-series in Gran Coupe form. This means you get four doors, while still retaining the swoopy, sleek lines of the two-door coupe.

Gran Turismo

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

So, you have the 4-series and 6-series Gran Coupes, but the 3-series and 5-series saloons aren't alone in having confusing special versions. For these, you can have Gran Turismo versions too, which look like SUV/saloon mishmashes. The idea is that you get a higher driving position (59mm higher in the 3GT) and lots of headroom like in an X3 or X5, but in a saloon body.

i (electric and hybrid)


BMW has now moved into the world of electric and hybrid vehicles, all of which start with the letter 'i'.

We currently have the i3, a five-door fully electric city car, which gets the option of a petrol-powered range extender. Joining the i3 later this year will be the i8, a plug-in hybrid sports car that kicks out a combined 357bhp from a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-pot petrol engine and electric motor. It'll do 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and 155mph, while still being able to achieve 113mpg.

Active Tourer

BMW 2-Series Active Tourer

Finally, we have the latest addition to the BMW fleet. The name only applies to one model at present, the front-wheel drive, MPV-styled 2-series Active Tourer. This is confusing because even numbers are now supposed to refer to BMW coupes. The justification for this car's name is that the 2-series AT is both bigger and more expensive than the 1-series, so BMW is adamant that it deserves an extra digit on the name.

In summary

  • 1-Series: three and five-door hatchbacks
  • 2-Series: two-door coupe
  • 2-Series Active Tourer: five-door, FWD hatchback
  • 3-Series: four-door saloon
  • 3-Series Touring: five-door estate
  • 3-Series Gran Turismo: five-door SUV/saloon combination
  • 4-Series: two-door coupe
  • 4-Series Gran Coupe: four-door with coupe styling
  • 5-Series: four-door saloon
  • 5-Series Touring: five-door estate
  • 5-Series Gran Turismo: five-door SUV/saloon combination
  • 6-Series: two-door coupe
  • 6-Series Gran Coupe: four-door with coupe styling
  • 7-Series: four-door luxury saloon
  • Z4: two-door coupe convertible
  • X1: five-door compact crossover
  • X3: five-door crossover
  • X5: five-door SUV
  • X6: five-door SUV with coupe styling
  • i3: five-door electric city car
  • i8: two-door hybrid sports car


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