Once upon a time, you could look at the back of a trunk lid of a BMW and come up with a pretty fair idea of what sat under its hood. For example, a 320i was a 3 Series with a fuel-injected, 2.0-liter engine, a 328i was a 3 Series with a fuel-injected, 2.8-liter engine and a 328Ci was a two-door 3 Series with the same engine. Those were good days.

Today, though, that simplicity is dead and gone. A 328i now has a 2.0-liter engine, just like the 320i, while the simple "C" designation that was affixed to two-door models has been replaced with a "4," so we have a 428i and a 435i. It gets worse, though. A 550i uses a 4.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 (it should be a 544ti, although we'd be willing to hear an argument for "tti") and a 740i uses a 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder, which is the same engine found in a 535i. It's madness.

And, well, it's about to get madder, if a post on a BMW enthusiast forum is to be believed. According to f30post.com, we could see a shakeup in at least the 3 and 4 Series nomenclature, thanks to an impending refresh that will see the addition of new, turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines, codenamed B48 and B58, respectively.

The B48 will take the place of the current 2.0-liter turbo found in the 320i and 328i/428i. In this case, the higher output models will be rechristened as the 330i and 430i. Meanwhile, the six-cylinder 335i and 435i will evolve into the 340i and 440i. There will also be a plug-in hybrid variant that will carry the title of 330e.

We reached out to BMW regarding this latest change in the brand's naming conventions, although all we were able to get was the standard (and unsurprising) line that the company wasn't "in a position to comment."

What do you think of these changes? Scroll down and have your say in Comments.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 94 Comments
      Tom Bombadil
      • 5 Months Ago
      It's simple. The designation corresponds to what size a naturally aspirated engine would have to be for comparable throughput.
        Spartan
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Tom Bombadil
        The problem with that is that BMW hasn't and wouldn't produce a N/A Inline 4.0L motor. Even if they did, it wouldn't produce the power of a 3.0L Turbo would.
          Papi L-Gee
          • 5 Months Ago
          @Spartan
          However, they did have a 4.0 V8 a generation ago... granted, it was an M engine.
      J.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Just divide by 3 and square the hypotenuse.
      urbansophistic
      • 5 Months Ago
      The enthusiasts are crying foul at the model designations because they driving dynamics have been watered down in tandem with the addition of new series. There's a proverbial slippery slope, and every new change BMW announces seems like yet another stake in the heart. It seems to make perfect business sense -- if people will buy it, BMW will build it. I wonder, though, if BMW will succeed at making the serial lessees into faithful buyers if there's nothing in the cars that makes them special. I've got plans to buy an E92 328i coupe since it represents the last analog BMW -- naturally aspirated straight-six, hydraulic steering, authentic engine exhaust note, etc.
        guinnessfanatic
        • 5 Months Ago
        @urbansophistic
        Got a '11 e90 328i sedan with a manual last Wednesday. It had sat on the lot for 6 months so was a steal. The fact that the last NA inlne six powered MT 3 went that long without interest says a ton about modern BMW customers. That thing would have been snapped up in a heartbeat in the late 90s. But hey, i got a deal and I'll pamper the poor orphan like she deserves.
        thrutheeyesofbry
        • 5 Months Ago
        @urbansophistic
        I am looking to go the same route but an E82 1er coupe. The turbos are nice but will be costly in the end. I did install the BMW performance exhaust recently on a E92 and it sounds incredible. If you can afford it, I would look into it.
      jonnybimmer
      • 5 Months Ago
      Here's my theory: Some idiot high up in BMW's product management has been recently obsessed with internet trends, looked up what SEO means and is now fixated on ensuring every car's search results are unique to the model they're currently selling. Search "328i" and multiple 3 series generations show up (even though the newest one would still show up first). Search 435xi on the other hand, and only the current model will show up, because it's the only model. It's a stupid theory, true, but it's the only way I can make sense on why BMW would take what was once a perfectly logical and efficient nomenclature (that NO ONE complained about I might add) and just toss it away for what is now undoubtedly the worst naming system in the automotive industry.
      Allan Leedy
      • 5 Months Ago
      440 badge comes off easier with dental floss than 435.
      19nomad56
      • 5 Months Ago
      I like the 320t, 320T, and 330T suggestion from above. Add the 320d for diesel. I believe even the "i" at the end was supposed to indicate fuel injection. Since all cars are FI these days, is it even necessary? I understand the history, but obviously BMW is not that interested in following historical precedents.
      cpmanx
      • 5 Months Ago
      I am utterly bored of these stories, and of the whole issue. BMW can run the numbers upside down, they can start using differentials and integrals, they can switch to Roman numerals, I really don't care. It's just their stupid naming system. If it gets stupid enough that it affects sales, they will stop. If it doesn't, they wont. Yes, it was nice for enthusiasts when the numbers had a pure designation indicating the size of the car and the displacement of the engine. But prior to the 1970s, BMW model names didn't indicate the model size, and prior to the 1960s they generally didn't indicate displacement either. The issue to me is not the naming system (really, it's not that hard to find out what engine is inside a BMW regardless of what the badge says) but the model proliferation, which is becoming just bizarre. Even there, though, so long as all those models sell and they can figure out a way to make money on them, they'll keep going in this direction.
        jonnybimmer
        • 5 Months Ago
        @cpmanx
        Personally what bothers me most about the new naming system isn't that it's different. Ok, things get confusing when they claim even numbers are only for 2 door vehicles and then give those designated names to some sedans and an MPV. But if BMW felt names like "535Xi" seemed unapproachable and disconnecting to today's crop of customers (most of which never knew what the numbers meant anyways) and wanted to freshen things up, that'd be understandable. The problem I have is that they haven't adopted any new naming system at all, they just took the current one and made it worse. In the 60's, BMW's nomenclature was basically based of the engine size of the vehicle alone. Needless to say, there was no way that method could continue while also trying to build up a product hierarchy, so they improved it by adding the class number and shortening the engine displacement. The old method was improved and there was a clear purpose for the change up. This new system, however, does not improved and has no purpose. Had BMW taken their route with the i3 & i8 and shortened everything up with just a letter for class type (i, X, M, etc.) and then a number for the "model level", dropping the engine displacement altogether, I could see that as a route for improvement. They're shorter, easier to both address and remember, and are certainly easier names to manage for the product lineup. Heck, even if they scrapped everything and just started labeling the cars by names of colors, whatever. It'd still be an effort to change to IMPROVE, not an effort to change just for the sake of changing which is what BMW appears to be doing right now. It's not the name changes themselves, it's the mentality behind those changes that's troubling.
      cadetgray
      • 5 Months Ago
      Well finally Lincoln is leading the way in at least one category in the luxury car sector.....idiotic nomenclature. See BMW's trying to play catch-up to Lincoln's masterful strategy...LOL.
      Dimas
      • 5 Months Ago
      The numbers should relate to something, not some arbitrary number that gets upped every time there is a new engine. I vote for peak torque or peak engine output (i.e. in horsepower or kilowatts). So BMW 535i would become 530i (it has 300 HP), 528i would become 524i.
      NMeng
      • 5 Months Ago
      ABCD XXX A=Cost Tier BC=First two digits of the power to weight ratio D=First letter of something that makes the car special in its price range. XXX - optional traits of the car which make it exciting. Even numbers can be 2-doors, odds get 4-doors. 278B 8M cost effective coupe, 7.8 lb/hp (hauls butt), boosted, 8 cylinder, M>>breathed on for performance 710L expensive sedan with a luxury bias. At this price range, nothing is outlandish, therefore no extra information is needed. 390D I4C - Up-market coupe, decent power, diesel, Inline 4-cylinder, Cross-plane crankshaft.
      • 5 Months Ago
      I do love BMW< always have as a loyal mechanic and owner. I have always known the first digit was the chassis and following were the engine. (same as Mercedes), however, I find it intentionally misleading and a way to cheapen quality. For a corporation that spends a million plus to designate the proper door ajar tone, I can see the only intent is for the buyer to not know what he/she is truly purchasing and a serious down fall for TRUE enthusiasts. As simple as it may seem they will make billions off of simple ignorance and for that I simply would not buy another.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Doesn't matter anymore a good percent of BMW owners don't even know how to drive or know what DSC stands for and what happens when it's switched off.
        • 5 Months Ago
        not true...good percent? 10, 20, 30%? I would say the good majority >50% still know how to drive a BMW and know what "DSC" means...
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