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Performance Figures 1975?2000

BMW is conservative in its performance claims, referring to urban consumption statistics in Europe for its fuel consumption claims whenever independent figures are not available. Figures for the US feature all domestic measurements, including the US gallon. Figures for European specifications have been converted to UK Imperial measurement, which is divided by a factor of 1.2 to equal US mpg.

Taking the European figures generation by generation, we find that the original 3 Series only had enough straight-line performance to compare with its 2002 predecessors in European 323i guise. Then, it was at the cost of sub-20-mpg six-cylinder consumption.

The four-cylinders of the original series offer a better balance of fuel consumption to performance, and the 320i/4 also received plaudits for its 200,000-mile durability during our research. However, the American E21 and E30 four-cylinders were not notable performers; and it says a lot for the loyalty of US Bimmer owners (and the quality of the product) that they stayed with the Roundel when more tempting alternatives lurked in many rival showrooms. BMW owner loyalty, shown by repeat purchasing, is at its highest in the six-cylinder ranges worldwide in 1999.

Of the second (E30) edition, the performance interest will naturally center on the M3 and its various Evolutionary descendants. Still, we've noticed how quick the 325i was versus some M3 derivatives. Unfortunately, we still do not have figures from the 238 bhp/2.5-liter M3.

The European and American E36 325i/328i series, whether in coupe or sedan form, could be as fast as an original M3, according to some independent testers in the US. And they returned about the same mpg overall and had a similar maximum speed to all but the previous E30 Evolution/220-bhp M3. Yet the 325i or 328i of the 1990s did all this a lot more smoothly than an E30 M3 could ever do: that is true automotive progress.

The author is glad to acknowledge the weekly British magazine, Autocar (formerly Autocar & Motor) and Haymarket Motoring Publications Ltd. for providing us with 1975?99 statistics. Top European speeds come from two sources: those defined as ?best? by Autocar or those that the author obtained at private test tracks when testing with electronic or fifth-wheel devices for Motor Sport or Performance Car.

European fuel consumption figures include those from the test track; the average driver is unlikely to obtain worse consumption. Weights are those quoted as ?curb.? All the European figures quoted using Autocar's internationally respected test procedures are subject to copyright. In the US, we have averaged figures mostly from Automobile, Road & Track, and Car & Driver. We gratefully acknowledge the high standards of those three magazines in performing the independent tests that most US and UK magazines avoid. There were, however, such wide variations in US test results that averaging seemed the only fair way to give potential buyers an idea of anticipated performance.

US E21/E30 4-cylinder models, 1976?1983

Model 320i/E21 318i/E30
Quoted bhp 110@5,800rpm 101@5,800rpm
0-30 mph (sec) 3.5 3.4
0-60 mph (sec) 10.5 11.6
0-80 mph (sec) 19.5 ?
0-90 mph (sec) 29.8 32.0
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 17.6/77.4 18.3/74.0
Maximum mph 110 (4th) 111 (5th)
US mpg 22.5/27 26
Curb weight (lbs) 2,600 2,460
Quoted cost/date $9,085/1978 $16,430/1983

US E30 6-cylinder models, 1984?1991

Model 325e 325i/rear-drive 325iX/4x4
Quoted bhp 121 @ 5,800 rpm 168 @ 5,800 rpm 168 @ 5,800 rpm
0?30 mph (sec) 2.6 2.4 2.7
0?60 mph (sec) 9.5* 7.6 8.0
0?90 mph (sec) 21.3 16.9 17.4
0?100 mph (sec) 30.0 22.8 23.0
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 16.8/81.5 15.8/86 16.0/?
Maximum mph 115 128 128
US mpg 25/26 21/23 19/21
Curb weight(lbs) 2,780 2,830 2,980
Quoted cost/date $20,970/1984 $26,990/1987 $33,290/1988
*11.5 sec with automatic transmission

E30 Performance specials: US, UK, & South Africa

Model M3/4-cyl 333i/6-cyl* Alpina B6/6-cyl**
Quoted bhp 192 @ 6,750 rpm 197 @ 5,500 rpm 260 @ 6,000 rpm
0?30 mph (sec) 2.6 3.7 (0?37 mph) 2.1
0?60 mph (sec) 7.5 7.2 (62 mph) 6.0
0?90 mph (sec) 14.5 ? 12.2
0?100 mph (sec) 18.0 ? 15.8
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 16.1/88 28.1 (1 km or 0.62 mile)/115.6 14.4/96.3
Maximum mph 140 (estimated) 143.5 152
US/UK mpg 22/24 US 27.2 UK @ 75 mph 20.8 UK
Curb weight (lbs) 2,740 2,763 3,000
Quoted cost/date $34,000/1987 Rand 41,300/1986 35,000/1989
*South African 3.2-liter transplant factory special tested courtesy of Car South Africa Magazine. Ex-733i and 633Csi injection motor, Getrag 5-speed developed by BMW SA and Alpina **Anglo-German Alpina RHD model assembled in Britain around upgraded 3.4-liter (ex 635Csi /735i) & standard M3 gearbox. Sold by Frank Sytner Ltd, Nottingham, and tested by now-defunct Performance Car.

US E36, 1991?97*

Model 318is/4-cyl 325is/6-cyl 328i/6-cyl
Quoted bhp 138 @ 6,000 rpm 189 @ 5,900 rpm 168 @ 5,800 rpm
0?30 mph (sec) 3.0 2.8 2.5
0?60 mph (sec) 9.5 8.5 7.2
0?90 mph (sec) 22.0 17.0 ?
0?100 mph (sec) 28.0 ? ?
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 17.0/82 16.0/87 15.0/94
Maximum mph 123 128 (estimated) 128 (estimated)
US mpg 23/28 20/23.5 20/22
Curb weight (lbs) 2,900 3,100 3,120
Quoted cost/date $23,975/1992 $29,100/1992 $32,900/1997
*US 6-cyl 3.0-liter and 3.2-liter M3s are listed in following chart

E36 M3s at work in US & Europe: 1993?1997*

Model European 3.0-liter M3 US 3.0-liter M3 3.2-liter M3 Evo US 3.2-liter M3 3.2-liter Lightweight
Quoted bhp 286 240 321 240 240
Maximum mph 155** 137 158 137 137
0?30 mph (sec) 2.5 2.3 2.2 ? ?
0?60 mph (sec) 5.6 6.4*** 5.3 5.9 5.3
0?100 mph (sec) 13.5 16.0*** 12.0 15.5 14.0
0?120 mph (sec) 20.0 ? 18.5 ? ?
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 14.0/101 14.6/97 13.8/104 14.5/98 13.9/100
Overall mpg 24/26 Imp 24/25 US 23/25 Imp 22/24 US 21/23 US
Curb weight (lbs/kg) 3,344/1,520 3,230/1,468 3,236/1,471 3,170/1,441 2,950/1,341
*Average of independent magazine sources. US residents, multiply by 1.2 if you want to convert an Imperial mpg result into US mpg. **Famously timed by Autocar at 162 mph with European 155-mph speed-limiter obviously inoperative! ***Car & Driver ran both their routine and extended (35,000) mile 3-liter M3s through their test procedures and returned much quicker results than the rest of the American hack pack. The average figures quoted are fairer for the private buyer's expectations today, but for the record, C&D recorded 0?60 mph in 5.5 seconds in both sessions. They recorded 0?100 mph in a staggering 14.6 seconds and went an unsurprising 14.2 seconds at 98- or 99-mph terminal speeds for the standing 1/4 miles. Car & Driver was the only magazine we could find that ran an automatic-transmission 3-liter M3 through the strip procedures and returned 0?30 mph in 2.6 seconds, 0?60 mph in 6.7 seconds, 0?100 mph in 17.1 seconds, and a 15.3-sec/95-mph ;-mile pass. Both top speed (137 mph) and average fuel consumption (24 US mpg) were reportedly unaffected. Curb weight was up 72 lbs, at a reported 3,304 lbs.

European BMW E21 3 Series, 1975?1982

Model 316 320/4-cyl 320i 320/6-cyl 323i
Quoted bhp 90 109 125 122 143
Maximum mph 102 109 114 114 126
0?30 mph (sec) 3.8 3.1 3.2 3.3 2.6
0?40 mph (sec) 6.3 5.0 5.3 5.3 4.3
0?50 mph (sec) 8.8 6.9 7.3 7.3 6.2
0?60 mph (sec) 12.9 10.2 9.6 9.8 8.3
0?70 mph (sec) 18.1 13.6 13.6 13.9 11.8
0?80 mph (sec) 24.4 18.3 17.6 18.5 15.7
0?90 mph (sec) 37.1 25.7 23.1 24.6 20.2
0?100 mph (sec) N/A 36.8 33.2 37.3 28.1
0?110 mph (sec) N/A N/A N/A N/A 41.6
Standing 1/4 mile/400 m (sec) 19.0 17.3 17.3 17.4 16.7
50?70 mph, top (sec) 13.3 8.5 10.1 13.7 9.3
Overall mpg 23.2 21.2 25.0 24.5 19.7
Curb weight (kg) 1,036 1,036 1,051 1,090 1,190
Data publication date 1/76 9/75 9/76 11/77 5/78

European BMW E30 3 Series, 1983?90

Model 316i 4-dr 318i 2-dr 320i 2-dr 325i 2-dr * 325i Touring 5-dr 325i A Convertible M3 Convertible M3 Sedan Evolution I
Quoted bhp 102 115 125 171 170 171 200 200 220
Maximum mph 114 116 116 132 132 135 146 140 148
0?30 mph (sec) 3.1 3.0 2.7 2.6 2.9 2.7 2.1 2.8 2.5
0?40 mph (sec) 4.8 4.6 4.4 3.9 3.9 4.2 2.9 3.9 3.6
0?50 mph (sec)7.1 6.6 6.2 5.3 5.7 5.8 4.7 5.5 5.1
0?60 mph (sec) 10.1 9.3 8.0 7.4 7.6 8.1 6.0 7.1 6.6
0?70 mph (sec) 13.8 12.4 11.4 9.6 9.9 10.7 8.0 9.5 8.8
0?80 mph (sec) 18.5 16.9 14.6 12.1 12.7 13.4 10.7 11.9 11.0
0?90 mph (sec) 25.3 22.4 18.6 15.8 16.4 17.6 12.0 15.2 13.9
0?100 mph (sec) 38.6 31.9 25.2 19.9 20.7 22.3 16.6 19.0 17.8
0?110 mph (sec) N/A N/A 36.5 25.7 26.4 28.2 22.5 23.7 21.9
0?120 mph (sec) N/A N/A N/A 37.3 N/A 38.9 28.3 29.8 N/A
1/4 mile (sec) 17.4 16.9 16.4 15.4 15.9 16.1 15.8 15.7 15.2
50?70 mph, 5th (sec) 16.0 12.7 15.7 10.2 10.1 1.6 9.5 9.4 9.8
Overall mpg 25.3 27.4 26.0 24.6 24.1 26.5 22.2 20.3 26.0
Quoted curb weight (kg)1,109 1,085 1,103 1,048 1,258 1,169 1,411 1,252 1,274
Data publication date 3/89 12/87 2/83 10/85 5/88 9/86 2/89 4/87 9/88
*The UK 325i Sport, including CR gearbox, LSD, and 7 x 15-inch wheels, recorded 0?60 mph in 6.8 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.7 seconds, 0?100 mph in 18.8 seconds, 132 mph top speed, and 22.4 mpg in a brief test published by Autocar & Motor on February 25, 1987.

European BMW E36 3 Series, 1990-95

Model 318i 320i 325i 325i coupe 328i sedan
Quoted bhp 113 150 192 192 193
Maximum mph 123 133 141 144 146
0-30 mph (sec) 3.2 3.0 2.6 2.6 2.8
0-40 mph (sec) 5.0 4.7 3.9 3.8 3.5
0-50 mph (sec) 7.4 6.6 5.3 5.4 5.2
0-60 mph (sec) 10.2 8.9 7.3 7.2 7.2
0-70 mph (sec) 13.1 12.3 9.5 9.5 8.3
0-80 mph (sec) 17.7 15.5 12.0 12.0 11.3
0-90 mph (sec) 23.0 20.2 15.3 15.2 ?
0-100 mph (sec) 30.5 25.9 19.2 19.2 ?
<0-110 mph (sec) ? 34.0 24.0 23.8 ?
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 17.5/80 16.9/83 15.7/93 15.8/91 ?
Overall mpg 27.6 23.5 24 22.7 26.5
Curb weight (kg) 1,260 ? 1,346 1,380 1,400 (estimate)
Data publication date 4/91 8/91 11/91 4/92 1996*
*328i sedan 4-dr published 1996 by Complete Car using German auto motor and sport figures, with incorrect weight replaced by author's data.

European BMW E46 3 Series, 1998-2000

Model 318i SE 323i SE 328is 320d 330d
Quoted bhp 118 170 193 136 184
Maximum mph 125 141 148 128 141
0-30 mph (sec) 3.7 3.2 3.1 ? 2.7
0-60 mph (sec) 9.6 7.8 7.4 9.5 7.9
0-100 mph (sec) 36.0 30.5 18.5 ? 22.5
50-70 mph, top gear (sec) 10.7 8.1 7.9* ? 7.6
1/4 mile (sec/mph) 18.2/76 17.5/80 15.8/94 18.7/83 16.1/87
Overall mpg 27.8 23/28 22/27* 39/46 37/43
Curb weight (kg) ? ? 1,471 1,346 1,520
Data publication date 7/98 11/98 9/99 ?/99 5/00
*Averaged with figure for mechanically identical Sedan