BMW Codenames Explained: Part 1

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When your company is making more than one car, it needs a way to easily distinguish between models, a way to make sure no mistakes are made. If you’re reading our website and our blog on a daily basis you might’ve noticed that the BMW lingo has some specific terms.
You can’t be a car enthusiast and never've heard of E30, E46, E39 and so on. All those codenames are used to identify certain BMW models, the ‘E’ standing for the German word Entwicklung that translates into ‘Development’.

They were used to designate possible prototypes of the cars some of which eventually were approved and given the green light. For example, between the E36 3 Series and the E46 3 Series models, up to 10 different variants were proposed to the board for approval, the E46 eventually being the choice they went with.

These codes go back to the late 1960s, when the first E3 model was created that marked the beginning of a new era for BMW, also called “New Six”.

Over the years, the number of various prototypes that had codenames that started with ‘E’ eventually passed the 100 mark and the Germans had to move on, starting a new set of names that, this time, started with ‘F’ instead.

If their predecessors are, by now, quite well known, cars that are using these new alphanumeric codes are not as popular so we thought we’d explain them.

  • 2011 - Present BMW 1 Series Hatchback

Launched in 2011, the second installment of the 1 Series is wearing the F20 codename for the 5-door version and F21 for the 3-door version.

  • 2013 - Present BMW 2 Series

Replacing the 1 Series Coupe, the 2 Series came forward using the same platform as the 1 Series Hatchback in 2013. The codename for the Coupe 2 Series Coupe is F22 while BMW’s first front-wheel-drive model, the 2 Series Active Tourer is known internally as F45. A convertible F23 model is now in the works and will be released this year.

  • 2012 - Present BMW 3 Series

For the current 3 Series the F30 code was used, defining the Sedan. The 3 Series range also includes the F31 Touring and F34 Gran Turismo.

  • 2013 - Present BMW 4 Series

Replacing the 3 Series Coupe, the 4 Series is known inside the BMW headquarters by the F32 codename for the Coupe, F33 for the Convertible and F36 for the Gran Coupe version.

  • 2010 - Present BMW 5 Series

For the 5 Series Sedan model BMW used F10 while the Touring is known as F11 with the Gran Turismo variation being called F07.

  • 2011 - Present BMW 6 Series

The GT of the BMW range used to be known as E63/64 in the Bangle butt era. Today we have three different models wearing the 6 Series moniker on their back: the F06 Gran Coupe, F12 Convertible and F13 Coupe.

  • 2010 - Present BMW 7 Series

The current 7 Series actually started the entire ‘F’ madness. Being at the forefront of technology, BMW wanted to emphasize the fact that the flagship they launched in 2010 is completely new and gave it the F01/F02 codenames. The first one is used for the normal 7er while the latter is used for long wheelbase models. F03 defines the armored version.

  • 2011 - Present BMW X3

The new SUV were also given new codenames. F25 defines the current X3 range that was previously wearing the E83 codename.

  • 2014 - Present BMW X4

This year BMW introduced its second Sport Activity Coupe in the shape of the X4. The codename they picked for the new car was F26, recognizing the shared platform with its X3 brother.

  • 2013 - Present BMW X5

The third edition of the popular BMW Sport Activity Vehicle is also known by its F15 codename. The upcoming BMW F16 X6 will be launched later this year.

Up until now, M cars used to have the same codenames as their ‘regular’ versions. For example, the last M3 Sedan used to be known as E90, the same as the normal 3 Series model. However, for a couple of new cars, BMW decided to used different codenames, to emphasize the fact that there is a big difference between the two varieties.

Therefore, the 2015 BMW M3, for example, is known as F80 unlike the F30 3 series. Furthermore, the F32 4 Series’s M version, the M4 Coupe, is known as F82.

  • Future models

M cars currently in development will also have different codes. The upcoming BMW X5 M will be differentiated from the ‘regular’ X5 by using the F85 code while the X6 M will follow the example, with F86.

The first front-wheel-drive BMW X1 that will replace the current generation in late 2015, will be known as F48, also hinting at the shared platform based on the UKL architecture, with the F45 2 Series Active Tourer.

BMW will also leave the alphanumeric codes starting with ‘F’ behind in 2016, when the new 7 Series model will be launched. The new G11/G12 flagship will start a new chapter and all future models will follow.
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