Types of BMW Cars

by Rob Wagner
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Germany's BMW A.G. manufactures a long line of automobiles and sport-utility vehicles. Its reputation for producing high-quality, superbly designed cars is perhaps unmatched by any other automaker except for perhaps Mercedes-Benz. BMW produces the 1, 3, 5, 6 and 7 Series cars and station wagons, the Z4 sports car, the X3 crossover and the X5 SUV.

1 Series

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Launched in late 2004, the 1 Series is a compact hatchback that sits between BMW's MINI line of cars and the 3 Series models. The MINI, based on the famed British-made Mini Cooper, is a separate line of vehicles owned by BMW since 2000. The 1 Series first debuted as a 5-door hatchback, with the 3-door model appearing in 2007. More than 149,000 1 Series models were sold in its first year.

3 Series

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The venerable 3 Series debuted in 1975 and has emerged as BMW's reliable compact executive car. It's offered as a station wagon, coupe, 4-door sedan or convertible. This mid-range priced vehicle has exceeded sales of other less expensive similar class cars in Europe because of its durability. It's BMW's best seller.

5 Series

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Up a notch from the 3 Series is the 5 Series. It was launched in 1975 as a mid-size executive car and offered today only as a 4-door sedan and station wagon. It's equipped with several engine options including the 282-horsepower 4.4-liter V-8, the 225-horsepower 3-liter straight-6 and the 400-horsepower 4.9-liter V-8. The M5 Motorsport version is equipped with a 507-horsepower V-10 that can hit about 155 mph.

6 Series

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The grand touring sport coupe, BMW's high-end luxury line, had a production run from 1976-89, and then returned in 2003. The sports car-style 6 Series is offered as a coupe and convertible. In addition to the straight-6 and V-8, it also comes equipped with the 507-horsepower V-10 and the 286-horsepower 3-liter Twin Turbo Diesel.

7 Series

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The ultra-luxury 7 Series executive sedan is the flagship vehicle of BMW. Launched in 1977, the 7 Series' most ambitious model is the Hydrogen 7, which runs on gasoline and hydrogen. Drivers are allowed to switch what fuel they want to use. However, only 100 Hydrogen 7 cars have been manufactured for testing purposes.

X3 and X5

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The X3 crossover, a passenger car with truck-like qualities, was launched in 2003. It's an all-wheel drive vehicle that is powered by either a gasoline or diesel 4-cylinder engine or the larger straight-6 also found in the 3 Series. The X3 perhaps possesses more truck characteristics than a crossover usually offers with a stiff ride and somewhat plain interior. The X5 is BMW's mid-size luxury SUV that was launched in 2000 and powered by a 253-horsepower fuel-injected 4.8-liter engine among other options.


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The popular 2-seater sports roadster Z4 succeeded the Z3 in 2002. Since its introduction more than 100,000 Z4s have been built. By 2008, a retractable hardtop was offered. The 258-horsepower 3-liter version Z4 has a top speed of 155 mph and can hit 62 mph from a standstill in 5.1 seconds.

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