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BMW SUV and car model range explained

Do you want your next car to be a BMW but aren’t sure which model is best for you? Our extensive guide takes you through every car in BMW’s lineup

BMW is a popular, desirable brand and with good reason. Whether you pick a compact hatchback or a luxurious limousine, you’ll get a posh, tech-stuffed interior and a dynamic driving experience – and, of course, that desirable blue-and-white badge on the nose.

But BMW’s range is bigger than ever before, with a dazzlingly wide selection of cars – and powertrains. BMW now has a burgeoning electric car range, as well as numerous SUVs and a whole host of performance cars. We wouldn’t be at all surprised if you found it a bit overwhelming to find the one for you.

BMW SUV range explained


BMW’s entry-level SUV is an excellent introduction to the BMW X range. It’s really spacious, drives brilliantly, has a big boot and all the infotainment tech that you get in BMW’s high-end cars. There are petrol, diesel, hybrid and – as you’ll read later – now a fully electric version too. It’s a really talented all-rounder, a great family SUV, and it in no way feels like an entry-level BMW.

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The previous BMW X2 (pictured) resembles a squashed X1, while the latest one has grown into a different-looking model that’s more in line with the bigger X4 and X6. Both versions of the X2 are positioned as a sportier alternative to the X1. Practicality takes a little bit of a hit versus the X1, but all of its other qualities are there.

Shop used BMW X2 cars for sale or read our BMW X2 review


BMW X3 driving

BMW’s midsize SUV gives you everything the X1 does, but more of everything. There’s more space and a bigger boot, more powerful engines and more street presence. The latest one is easily mistaken for an X5, which is no bad thing.

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BMW X4 M40i driving

A coupe version of the X3, with a sloping roofline instead of a more conventional SUV shape. It loses a little bit of practicality in pursuit of a more stylish appearance, but from the front door forwards it’s exactly the same as the X3. It misses out on the plug-in hybrid and fully electric options you get in the X3, but the remaining engines should appeal to the majority of X4 buyers.

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The BMW X5 was one of the first SUVs that didn’t solely focus on off-road chops, and it’s still one of the best and most luxurious choices. It’s imperious and stately but still rewarding when the road gets twisty – high-tech but highly practical too. There’s even a seven-seat option.

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BMW X6 M60i driving

Just like the X4, but bigger. The X6 is a swept-back version of the X5, albeit with no third-row option – you can imagine how limited the headroom would be. It’s a pretty niche offering, but there are plenty of customers who like the extra exclusivity of the X6.


BMW X7 driving down hill

BMW’s X7 is a vast thing that almost takes up its own postcode. This is family transport, oligarch-style – the X7 has seven opulently trimmed seats and plenty of space. There are very few cars on this list that don’t get an M Performance range-topper, and the X7 is no exception – the M60i has 530hp and a sub-five-second 0-62mph time. Which is about as long as it’ll take for your kids to tell you they’re feeling sick.


BMW XM Label Red

Lipstick, pig, six-figure price tag. These kind of sum up the XM, a whopping plug-in hybrid performance SUV that’s the first M-specific car since the M1 supercar. This, obviously, is a totally different beast, and maybe one that won’t get the purists excited in the same way as the M1.

BMW hatchback range explained

BMW 1 Series

The entry point into the BMW range actually shares more with the Mini than with most BMW models, not that that’s a bad thing. The 1 Series has agile handling and a planted feel, and there are a couple of hot hatch versions that offer exciting performance at a fraction of the cost of other BMW M cars. It still boasts leather and lots of screen real estate as standard, so it certainly feels like a BMW when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat.

Shop used BMW 1 Series cars or read our BMW 1 Series review

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

A more practical version of a less practical version of a BMW 3 Series. Still with us? The logic of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe might not immediately stack up, but the actual product is, thankfully, more convincing. It combines coupe looks with easier rear-seat access and a hatchback tailgate, which makes the Gran Coupe more versatile than the 3 Series it was originally based on.

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BMW saloon range explained

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

Despite the name, this is essentially a 1 Series saloon. All the oily bits and screens are the same as the 1 Series hatchback – but most of its parts are completely different to the ‘normal’ 2 Series coupe. Using the 1 Series as a base means the 2 Series Gran Coupe is economical to run, reasonably practical and still quite entertaining on a back road.

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BMW 3 Series

Think of a BMW and the 3 Series will probably be one of the first that pops into your head. It’s BMW’s classic saloon, which has taken on the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class for the top honours in the motorway-munching junior executive car class for decades. The 3 Series has always been the sportiest of the trio, and that’s still the case – it’s fantastic to drive, but also very spacious and techy.

Shop used BMW 3 Series cars for sale or read our BMW 3 Series review

BMW 5 Series

New BMW 5 Series driving

The bigger 5 Series has always been a real weapon on motorway journeys, too – it’s designed to sit on the derestricted German autobahn at over 100mph for hours on end. It’s even plusher and more comfortable than the 3 Series, and is usefully bigger for people and luggage.

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BMW 7 Series

New BMW 7 series driving

BMW’s most luxurious saloon is the 7 Series – a limousine that’s destined to spend its life chauffeuring high-ranking individuals. It has flagship tech – both in terms of connectivity and driver assistance. The latest 7 Series even comes with a 31-inch ‘Theatre Screen’ that turns the back seats into your own private cinema. No popcorn dispenser, unfortunately.

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

BMW 8 Series Gran Coupe

Another four-door model at the lofty end of the BMW lineup is the 8 Series Gran Coupe. It’s long and low, giving an imposing stance but surprisingly limited headroom. Perhaps not the best choice for regularly carrying tall adults in the back seats – they might be happier in a 7 Series.

BMW estate range explained

BMW 3 Series Touring

If you don’t really fancy an SUV but need lots of space, BMW still offers several big-booted estate cars. The 3 Series Touring is the smallest, but it’s still more than capacious enough for most families’ needs. It drives brilliantly and feels plush, but boasts more cargo space, a bigger tailgate and even an independently opening rear windscreen – handy if you need to chuck something small in the boot without having to open the whole tailgate.

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BMW 5 Series Touring

New BMW 5 Series Touring driving

This is the brand-new 5 Series Touring, which can be ordered as a fully electric model for the first time (more on that in a bit). There’s also a plug-in hybrid, but you’ll need to plump for the last-generation 5 Series Touring if you want a normal diesel or petrol engine.

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BMW coupe and convertible range explained

BMW 2 Series

BMW’s junior sports car is one for the purists. Unlike the other 2 Series models, the coupe and convertible are still rear-wheel drive for better handling and balance. There’s no hybrid or electric version here, just one diesel engine and a range of increasingly powerful petrol engines.

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BMW 4 Series

Divisive, bold styling hides sensible 3 Series underpinnings, which makes the 4 Series a very well-rounded sports car – as long as you’re sat inside! Compared with the Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class Coupe, the 4 Series is more fun to drive, although it still offers just enough space for four adults and a glossy iDrive infotainment system.

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BMW 8 Series

BMW 8 Series coupe driving

As with the 8 Series Gran Coupe above, the 8 Series coupe and convertible are BMW’s flagship offerings if practicality isn’t a top concern. Imposing looks and a long bonnet make the 8 Series really stand out, while powerful engines and serious luxury means the big BMW goes as well as it looks.

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The convertible-only BMW Z4 balances wind-in-your-hair thrills with most of the poise and balance of BMW’s other sports cars. It was developed in tandem with the Toyota GR Supra but it’s all BMW inside and under the bonnet. Several powerful petrol engines are available.

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BMW MPV range explained

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer/Gran Tourer

These people carriers are a bit of a break from the BMW norm, but they’re still worth considering. The five-seat Active Tourer and the elongated seven-seat Gran Tourer both provide family-friendly practicality in spades, yet with the leather trimmings and fancy infotainment screen that you get in other BMW models. This is the latest 2 Series Active Tourer – you’ll have to look on the used market for a Gran Tourer as it’s no longer sold new.

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BMW electric car and SUV range explained

BMW i3

The BMW i3 arrived way ahead of its time, and still looked fresh when its production run ended. With a carbon-fibre chassis – like a McLaren supercar – an airy cabin and super-skinny tyres, the i3 was a masterpiece of clever design and thinking. Range stands at about 170 miles from the later 42kWh battery.

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BMW i4

BMW i4

BMW’s answer to the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 is a fully electric version of the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Despite weighing considerably more than a petrol 4 Series, the i4 is still fantastic to drive and fast off the line. The range-topping M50 can nearly keep pace with proper supercars.

BMW i5

BMW i5 saloon

The i5 is the first-ever electric 5 Series. Chiselled looks hide an 81kWh battery pack which, in the rear-wheel-drive eDrive40 model, returns a maximum range of over 350 miles. The i5 is a lot more expensive than the regular 5 Series, mind.

BMW i5 Touring

An estate version of the i5, the i5 Touring adds a bigger boot. At 570 litres, it’s the same size as the boot in fuel-powered 5 Series Tourings. As we write this, the i5 Touring has no direct rivals – there are very few electric estates and the Audi A6 e-tron Avant isn’t out yet.

Read more about the i5 and i5 Touring here

BMW i7

BMW i7 driving

If you think a luxury car should still be a vast three-box saloon, the i7 hits the spot – as long as you don’t mind looking at it. Electric power is perfect for a luxo limo as it’s serenely quiet and the immense power available is underneath your right foot at all times. The i7 offers a range of up to 384 miles, a 195kW fast-charging rate and breathtaking acceleration.


BMW iX1 driving

BMW’s experience with electrification is paying dividends with cars like the new iX1, which is really impressive in a number of areas. Entry-level models are said to manage up to 4 miles per kWh, which enables a maximum range of 293 miles. Not only that, the iX1 boasts quick acceleration, a quiet ambience and plenty of cabin space.


BMW iX2 driving

Everything that’s good about the iX1 also applies to the iX2, although its styling is more rakish than the conventionally styled X1. Its 130kW fast-charging capacity means that the battery can be topped up to 80% in as little as half an hour, while a home charge from an AC wallbox takes just six and a half hours


BMW iX3 driving

As we mentioned above, the X3 is a brilliant family SUV and, if your lifestyle allows an electric car, the iX3 should surely be even better. Its quietness, smoothness and speed is everything a premium midsize SUV should be, and you still get plenty of space.


BMW’s flagship electric car is designed to be noticed, although people might recoil at the looks before they’ve experienced the iX’s qualities. Its cabin is first-class – a symphony of future tech in the present day with thoughtful materials including bronze accents and unique upholstery choices. The powertrain and practicality are worth writing home about, too.