Best BMW Series generations

Interesting, Others | August 2nd, 2015 by 5
bmw E30 3 Series 1900x1200 01 750x500

Read any single article on the internet about BMWs and you’ll be sure to find at least one sentence in it where the author talks …

Read any single article on the internet about BMWs and you’ll be sure to find at least one sentence in it where the author talks about the good ole days in one form or another. It’s either about how BMW’s steering isn’t as pure as it used to be or how BMWs have gotten too heavy or whatever it may be, people are always comparing BMWs to the ones of the past. But are the oldies really that much better?

Well, I decided to ask you kind folk. See, I was thinking about this question and it’s harder to answer than one might think. The old BMWs, like say an E30 M3, are fantastic as they have incredibly pure steering and dynamics and aren’t weighed down my modern luxury amenities. However, those modern luxury amenities are wonderful to have. Sure, the E30 M3’s steering is better than that of the new M3’s, but it’s also more uncomfortable, doesn’t have heated leather seats and satellite navigation and automatic climate control. Those things are nice to have and it’s not like the current M3 is a dog around corners. It’s quite fantastic, actually. So is the E30 actually the better car just because you can feel the road through the steering a bit more?

Concorso dEleganza Villa dEste 2015 BMW M3 E30 02 750x497

But it isn’t just the M3 that gets this comparison. Read a review of a 6 Series or 7 Series and there will still be a reference to the way things used to be and why they were better back then. But again, were they? Or are we just looking through rose-tinted specs? Would the people of the 1980s prefer their version of the M5 to our current one? Or would they appreciate the supreme comfort it now comes with, while also delivery mighty performance?

So this leads me to my question. Which BMWs were actually better back then, which BMWs would you actually prefer an older model over the newer one or vice versa if you had to pick just one generation from each Series model? I’ll start to give examples.

1 / 2 Series – 1 Series: But only because of the 1 Series M. I actually prefer the 2 Series to the standard 1 Series models. Though the M2 might change my mind.

Valencia Orange BMW 1M On VMR Wheels 1 750x500

3 / 4 Series – E36: but I’m biased because I have one. I do love the way it drives, though, and it’s comfort and practicality are fantastic. I actually love all 3 Series models, but I have to go with my home team on this one, over even the E30 and its mighty M3.


5 Series – E28: But This one’s tough, because I do like the current model a lot and the E39 is fantastic as well. But I actually love the way the E28 looks and that’s the deal breaker for me and the E28 has the original M5 which is just so damn lovely.


6 Series – F06: I know it’s the Gran Coupe, but it still counts as a 6 Series and it’s the 6er I’d choose out of all of them.


7 Series – E38: This one’s easy for me, go for the Frank Martin special. The E38 is hands down my favorite 7er, but in fairness, I haven’t yet driven the new G11 obviously so I can’t really say until I drive that. Maybe it changes my mind.


So these are the generations I’d choose out of each BMW Series model. Now you go and let us know which you think is best.

5 responses to “Best BMW Series generations”

  1. Giom says:

    It’s an interesting article Nico. One I’ve pondered many times. My conclusion is a little different tho. When the ‘old’ cars came out, I was young and a new BMW was very few and far between. Nowadays, new models arise fairly consistently and I can only describe my pov as being watered down.

    Still, old vs new? My memories from the early models are fond. But driving any of them today serves only as a reminder of how technologies have changed over the years. Get into a new BMW and you simply can’t resist the progress.

    For me, if I had the means, I’d always be upgrading to the latest model while remembering where the came from.

    • Tom D says:

      For me, if I had means, I’d always buy old ones (E34 M5, E30 M3…) while stating that new bimmers are fat and give less feedback…

  2. Andy Byers says:

    I have been working on BMW’s for >20 years, so I get to drive them all. I have driven the M1 and Z8, and just about everything in between. I personally still find the E30 by far the most enjoyable on any road that is not a straight line, and even then I just anticipate the next curve.

  3. syedhoda1 says:

    i think the E30 and E8X 1-series are easily my favourite 2 car lines. Both captured the exact same feeling in different decades. Small, enjoyable, german, taut, functional, and minimalist and beautiful in their own way. The E30 was like a box, literally….but somehow captured the imagination of people. The E8X was like a bent box with angles and twists and turns and still captured the imagination. The E30 M3 and 1M are, in my opinion, easily THE BEST M cars ever made, bar none. I think it took years for the E30 325i to become so desirable but i think even the 128i and 135i will be desirable for a long time by younger buyers trying to find cars made by BMW from a time when they actually gave a crap about driving.

  4. Senne says:

    I actually love them all… but if I had to choose a generation of each BMW Series model, I’d go every single time for the newest. Because even though “the feedback” may be not as good as they used to, they still give way more feedback than their competitors. But you have all the luxury and goodies of a modern BMW. That’s why I love BMW so much: they used to be the best in terms of sportiness in every segment, and now they are also as luxurious and comfortable as the competition, without forgetting their past. Just look at the 7 Series: a top end luxury saloon is all about luxury, but because it’s a BMW, the best position is still behind the wheel. If it were 20 years ago or so, they would probably not be able to compete with Mercedes in terms of luxury. Now they do. BUT the 7 Series is also the lightest in the segment and the sportiest. And that goes for not only the 7 Series.

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