Alex Kersten profile picture Alex Kersten 2 months ago 8
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It Turns Out The New BMW 3-Series Is The Same Size As My E34 525i

The new BMW 3-series is almost identical in size and mass to the 5-series of yesteryear. Here's how they compare...

Remind me later
BMW - It Turns Out The New BMW 3-Series Is The Same Size As My E34 525i - Blog

This is my BMW E34 525i Non-Vanos Touring. It’s slow, heavy, needs a lot of work and feels like a barge. And despite it not being born with airbags, it’s a car that I feel safe driving. The reason for that is because of its size; it feels massive.

So it might come as a surprise to learn that the E34 5-series is almost dimensionally identical as the new 3-series, a car which has been upscaled so much it’s larger than a whole host of already big BMWs.

BMW - It Turns Out The New BMW 3-Series Is The Same Size As My E34 525i - Blog

In fact, if we look at the numbers, the old E34’s 4720mm length, 1751mm width and 1412mm height makes it only 11mm longer than a modern-day 3-series Touring, while the 5er’s width and height is actually 76mm and 28mm narrower and shorter; so while the E34 is slightly longer, it is now smaller overall versus the new 3-series.

As for weight, a 330i Sport Touring tips the scales at 1650kg, while my E34 Touring weighs in at, you guessed it, 1650kg…

BMW - It Turns Out The New BMW 3-Series Is The Same Size As My E34 525i - Blog

Of course, the driving experience between both models - old and new - is completely different. You can read more about the new 3-series Touring here, but suffice it to say it craps all over my old 5-series in every respect except noise, because a BMW M50 engine with stainless pipes is hard to rival. Yep, BMW’s ‘30i’ engine - effectively the modern equivalent to the 25i - might be in another league in performance terms, but its inline-four soundtrack isn’t that great.

An E34 and E39 Touring. Not much seems to have changed between these generations
An E34 and E39 Touring. Not much seems to have changed between these generations

Getting back to car sizes, it’s clear that bigger is better from generation to generation. If only our roads were following suit, we might actually be able to fit our X5-sized BMW 1-series on our streets in a few years’ time…