BMW isn’t unique with its mid-cycle facelifts (“LCI” in BMW-speak); every car company on the planet gives each of its models a refresh halfway through their life-cycles. The reason for such facelifts isn’t to make drastic changes or fix unpopular designs (although both have happened in the past) but to keep cars looking fresh as newer competition comes out. However, sometimes the changes are drastic and sometimes they do massively improve a car’s looks. Throughout the decades, BMW has had some of these so-called LCI updates that have made huge differences. So which LCI has had the biggest impact over the years?

There are a few that immediately come to mind. The E65 BMW 7 Series received a facelift halfway through its life and it made a big difference. When it first debuted, the E65 was unloved, to say the least, and its design was half of its problem (reliability was the other half but that’s a neither here nor there). When BMW gave it a facelift, and fixed its funky looking headlights, it actually became a relatively handsome car, one that’s aged quite well over time.

Pre-LCI E65
Post-LCI E65


Ironically, this new G30 5 Series just received a facelift and while the pre-LCI car was already great looking, the post-LCI car made headlines for how handsome it looked, despite being the oldest car in the segment.

However, the car that always sticks out to me personally is the E90 3 Series. When the E90 first debuted, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I liked the car overall, but the grille and taillights really bugged me. The grille had these little chrome mustaches above them that I thought looked completely out of place. Its taillights were also these little blobby jobs that looked frumpy and out of place. So while the car as a whole was actually quite good looking, especially in profile, I never really loved it.

Pre-LCI E90
Post-LCI E90

After its LCI facelift, though, the E90 completely transformed. Its kidney grille ditched the tacky chrome bits and its taillights gained a now-traditional BMW L-shape. There were some other minor changes as well but those two things really always stood out to me, personally. Now, after the LCI, I think the E90 3 Series sedan is one of the best looking — if not the very best looking — 3 Series’ ever made.

So, for me, the E90 LCI facelift had the biggest impact but, as always, style is subjective, so you may think I’m nuts and that another LCI was far more impactful. So which LCI was best? Let me know in the comments below.