How does BMW name its vehicles

Understanding what the numbers and letters on the back of a BMW represent

While the badge on the back of a BMW might just seem like a random combination of numbers and letters, they do actually mean something. In fact, BMW has an internal department under the moniker Strategic Naming and Vehicle Identification, who are responsible for maintaining their well-established naming convention. A new model name is the result of an extensive naming process, in order to make the name understandable for customers across the globe.

The first number in the three-digit combination of a BMW represents the model series or segment. This indicates at what end of the size spectrum the car is located and generally the larger the number, the larger the car. In addition even numbers are normally given to sportier body shapes, such as coupes.

The next two digits indicate the vehicles displacement, its performance in kilowatts or its virtual displacement, with bigger numbers representing more powerful models.

The last part of the model name includes a lowercase letter that represents the drive technology. For example i, for petrol vehicles and a d for diesel vehicles. An e in the name represents a plug in hybrid.

All wheel drive vehicles have XDrive attached to their name. SDrive represents front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, but that is only utilised on X and Z models.

The sub brand BMW i, is being consistently expanded with fully electric models. The designation for the type of engine has been removed from the badging of vehicles that are powered by batteries and replaced by i.

Models of the sub-brand BMW M have stood for performance since the early 1970s. M performance vehicles have the M prominently placed in their name. In both X and Z models, the M comes before the model name and after the vehicle name, such as on the X5 M50i.

M high-performance vehicles such as the BMW M2, do not bear the model name or information about performance, drive technology or drive variations, with the focus solely on M and the model series. BMW M models with even sportier design have the word competition added to their name.

Additional lettering is also utilised throughout the line up to distinguish anomalies to the regular naming convention. GT, which stands for Gran Turismo indicates a hatchback model such as the BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo. CSL stands for Coupe Sport Lightweight and is reserved for M models that feature lightweight technology.  Ti stands for Turismo Internazionale, which when translated means Touring International Injection and adorns the latest BMW 128ti.