1982: the second generation - four-door, Convertible, Touring and BMW M3, plus the first diesel engine for the sports sedan

The new BMW 3-Series oozed progress and variety out of every pore, as its fresh new design, optimised aerodynamics, improved space and comfort, higher output and additional body and engine variants confirmed. BMW had consistently expanded the reach of its most successful model range and shown an unerring sense for what its customers wanted. This generation saw the arrival of a four-door family version (1983), the BMW 3-Series Convertible and the sporting BMW M3 (both 1985). Today the first BMW 3-Series Convertible is a prized "recent classic" among many fans of the brand. With the attractively styled Touring (launched in 1987), BMW showed that driving pleasure and practicality, and space and functionality need not be mutually exclusive in the sporty mid-size segment either. Moreover, the first diesel and first all-wheel-drive models were introduced into the BMW 3-Series range. It was a successful strategy: the second-generation car sold over 2.3 million units - one million more than its predecessor.

The introduction of the eta six-cylinder engine in 1984 heralded the development of a new economy-led concept. The 325e was powerful but also frugal and clean; this was the first BMW 3-Series model to be offered only with a catalytic converter. The powers-that-be in Munich also demonstrated considerable courage with the 324d, the first sporty diesel sedan in the 3-Series line-up. It was accompanied by the hugely powerful 325i, which came with permanent all-wheel drive in 325iX guise. The transfer case with viscous clutch allowed the use of ABS, which was duly fitted as standard on both models. 1989 saw the arrival of the 318is and with it the first volume-produced BMW four-cylinder engine with four-valve cylinder head.

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