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BMW overview

Bayerische Motoren Werke Gmbh, or BMW, started out as an aircraft engine manufacturer. It was founded by businessmen Gustav Otto and Karl Rapp, who merged their companies to produce specialist engines. After the Treaty of Versailles stopped any German company producing plane engines, BMW pivoted to produce railway brakes and, by 1923, motorcycles and cars.

BMW is the namesake brand of the wider BMW Group, which now owns four global automotive brands. BMW is pronounced phonetically as bee + em + double-yoo in English and bee-em-vee in German. Using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), the pronunciation is bɪ́j ɛm də́bəljʉw in English or beː ɛm ˈve in German.

BMW is a luxury, performance-focused car brand, manufacturing everything from coupés to SUVs. The manufacturer is known as a premium choice for drivers who are looking for powerful engines, excellent handling and luxurious interiors.

BMW has developed a range of superior driving technology over the years. xDrive, its all-wheel-drive system, ensures drivers can enjoy their BMW’s powerful engines to their full potential in all weather conditions. Their EfficientDynamics technology also enhances fuel efficiency on high-performance models, so you can enjoy a powerful drive without compromising completely on fuel consumption.

Inside, clever tech like the iDrive infotainment system and ConnectedDrive services keep drivers safe, connected and entertained, with intuitive controls to boot. Other notable features available across the BMW range include LaserLight headlamps, which illuminate up to half a mile of road, and a comprehensive Active Assist suite of safety features.


Popular BMW models

Some of the most popular models offered by BMW include the 3 Series, which has been on the roads since 1975. It’s available in convertible, tourer and saloon body styles. The Mk3 1 Series is a subcompact car that’s considered one of BMW’s entry-level models, while the 2 Series is a nippy but more spacious coupé, convertible or hatchback.

The BMW 4 Series is a compact executive car that spawned from the coupé and convertible 3 Series variants. The larger BMW 5 Series is well-designed for long distances thanks to its practicality and efficiency. You can also opt for the performance focused M5 which is a hit with petrol heads, thanks to its driving dynamics and speed.

The BMW X1 is the brand’s line of luxury compact SUVs which are well-suited to those who want a large car that can still navigate city streets with ease. The roomier BMW X3 is another subcompact crossover SUV that’s been on the roads since 2003. This model is based on the 5 Series’ platform and is one of the larger SUVs offered by BMW. The X3 is known for spacious, practical, yet luxurious interiors, innovative technology and performance engines.


Manufacturer awards

BMW’s design and innovation has earned a vast range of automotive accolades across many decades. Notable awards include the title of Best Manufacturer (AutoCar Britain’s Best Car Awards 2022), Best Electric Executive Car (Top Gear Electric Awards 2022), Best Coupé and Best Electric SUV to Drive (WhatCar? Car of the Year Awards 2022).

BMW’s innovation has also extended into hybrid and electric vehicles. It introduced the fully electric i Series range in 2013, becoming the first mass-produced car to use lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic in its cabin. Since then, the fully electric and hybrid range has been expanded to include everything from a fully electric SUV, the iX, to the plug-in 330e Saloon.

If you’re in the market for a used BMW for sale, you’ll find a wide selection of BMW models at Arnold Clark. Browse our range of BMW cars right here.


BMW nomenclature

The badging on BMW models, for example, ‘320d’, ‘M140i’, ‘530e’ is a code which signifies different things depending on the model you choose. The first digit refers to the model series, so the 320d is a 3-Series, the M140i is the Motorsport (M) version of the 1-Series and the 530e refers to the 5-Series.

The second two digits originally denoted the engine size, therefore the 320d would have a 2.0-litre engine. This is not always the case and depends on the model. These second two digits are also used to distinguish higher output from the same size of engine. For example, a 330i and 335i may have the same engine size of 3.0-litres but the 335i will offer a higher output with turbo injection fuel delivery.

The last digit is the model’s fuel type. Models with ‘I’ as the last digit are petrol, “D” is diesel and ‘E’ is for plugin hybrid. You can check our vehicle summary section of any BMW product page to be sure of engine size and fuel types.


BMW frequently asked questions


When was BMW founded?

BMW was set up in 1916, when German businessmen Gustav Otto and Karl Rapp’s companies merged to become Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke AG (BFW). In 1917, the business changed its name to BMW and, under new owner Camillo Castiglioni, had moved all its operations under the BMW brand by 1922.

What does BMW stand for?

BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH. In English, it means the Bavarian Engine Works Company, reflecting the company’s start in Bavaria as bespoke engine manufacturing business.

Who owns BMW?

The car brand is owned by BMW Group, which also owns MINI, Rolls-Royce and motorcycle brand BMW Motorrad.

Where is BMW made?

BMW has more than 30 production facilities, in countries including the UK, Germany, Mexico, the US, China and South Africa. Its largest facility in Europe is in Dingolfing, Germany, which spans a massive 2.8 million square metres.

When did BMW buy MINI?

BMW acquired the MINI brand in 1996. It relaunched the car line in 2001 under the BMW Group.

How much is a BMW?

The price of a BMW depends on its age, mileage, model and trim. At the lower end of the price scale, a BMW 1 Series, for example, could cost as little as £6,500 for a 2012 model or as much as £40,000 for a 2022 car. If you’re in the market for a more executive model, a BMW X5 ranges from £30,000 to £100,000+ for the newest models.

How much is a BMW service?

The cost of servicing a BMW can vary depending on what type of work might be required. Please contact your nearest Arnold Clark BMW branch to find out the best servicing options available.

Which BMW series is best?

Each BMW series will appeal to different drivers. The practical and luxurious 3 Series is the brand’s best-selling model to date, but the hot hatch 1 Series and spacious saloon 5 series are popular options too. If you’re looking for a fun runaround, the 2 Series Coupé fits the bill, while the executive 4 Series is both roomy and powerful.

BMW or Mercedes-Benz which is better?

Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz cars offer an array of advanced features that make them two of the most popular luxury car brands in the world. If you’re looking for a sportier driving experience, a sharp, athletic design and great fuel economy, BMW cars will suit you. Mercedes-Benz models, on the other hand, tend to have roomier, more executive cabins that make the ride feel luxurious, with performance-focused engines also available.

What is BMW xDrive?

BMW xDrive is the manufacturer’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. It is more responsive to differing road conditions than standard four wheel-drive contributing to a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.

How does BMW xDrive work?

xDrive systems are fitted with intelligent dynamic stability control sensors. They’re sensitive to even subtle grip loss and switch power to the wheels with the strongest traction using an electronically controlled multi-disk clutch. xDrive is quicker than a traditional traction control system and can send close to 100% of the car’s power to the front or back axle almost instantly.

What is BMW sDrive?

An sDrive BMW is a two-wheel drive car, which is typically rear-wheel drive. It doesn’t offer as much traction as models with xDrive but can offer enhanced fuel effciency and sold at a lower price point.

What is DTC in BMW?

Standing for ‘Dynamic Traction Control’, DTC keeps BMWs stable on slippery roads. It will detect traction loss and step in to prevent skidding or wheel slip.

What is a drivetrain in a BMW?

A drivetrain is something you’ll find in every vehicle. It’s a set of crucial components that take energy from the engine to get a car moving. Typically, the transmission, differential, wheel axles and the driveshaft make up the drivetrain.

What is BMW ConnectedDrive?

In the simplest terms, ConnectedDrive is BMW’s digital ecosystem. It’s how you can control everything from smartphone connectivity to weather and traffic alerts, as well as set up a driver profile with your driving preferences.

What is BMW Alpina?

Alpina is a manufacturer that builds performance-focused models, which was acquired in 2022 by BMW Group. Its models use BMW as their base and add bespoke elements, such as hand-built engines and aerodynamic design, to create luxury performance cars.

What is BMW Step Auto?

BMW’s Step Auto, or Steptronic automatic gearboxes, give you more flexibility in how you drive. They have a fully automatic mode for relaxed cruising and sport drive mode that lets you rev more between gears. There’s also manual shift mode, which lets you manually shift gears for close control of the car’s performance.

What does LCI mean BMW?

BMW calls its mid-generation facelifts a Life Cycle Impulse, or LCI. Usually, these updates add subtle interior and exterior changes.

What is BMW MHT?

MHT stands for mild hybrid technology. It means your BMW uses regenerative braking and a supplementary electric motor to boost fuel efficiency.

What does BMW M stand for?

BMW M means Motorsport, referring to engines initially designed for BMW’s racing programme. BMW models with M on them signify that this model is a high-performance model.

What is BMW Enhanced Bluetooth?

BMW Enhanced Bluetooth means you can connect two devices to Bluetooth in the car at once – meaning you could accept calls for both a personal and work phone while on the go.

What is BMW EWS?

EWS refer to BMW’s electronic immobiliser, which is an important anti-theft system for BMW and MINI cars.

What is BMW Comfort Access?

With BMW Comfort Access, you can automatically unlock the doors if your key is within five feet of the car. It also lets you lock the doors by tapping a spot on the driver’s handle.

What is BMW Pro Pack?

The BMW Pro Pack, also known as the BMW M Sport Pro Pack, adds sporty details to your model. This includes larger wheels, a sportier body kit, sport seats, an M sports steering wheel and an adaptive suspension.

What is BMW M sport

BMW M Sport is a high-level trim level offered on some BMW models. This trim features some of BMW’s most powerful engines and sporty interior detailing.

What is BMW EfficientDynamics?

BMW EfficientDyanmics is the manufacturers strategy to enhance fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and increase the range offered by their vehicles on the roads. They implement this through the integration of efficient technologies and materials across their lineup. Efficient technologies offered as part of EfficientDynamics include active air flap control, Eco Pro drive mode, direct fuel injection technology and mild hybrid technology.

What is SensaTec BMW?

SensaTec is a durable, faux leather material that’s found in some BMW interiors.

What is BMW Shadow Edition?

The Shadow Edition, or the M Sport Shadow Edition to give it its full name, was a limited-edition trim option for the Mk2 1 Series and Mk6 3 Series. Released between 2017 and 2019, these cars have high-end, sporty features like the signature black kidney grille, M Sport braking and Harman Kardon speakers.

How do I know if my BMW has park assist?

You’ll know your BMW has park assist, known as Parking Assistant, if there is a P button on its dashboard or centre console. Once you press this, the system’s cameras will activate and show you a 360-degree view of your surroundings on the car’s screen.

What engine is in my BMW?

If you’re not sure what engine your BMW has, look for the six-digit code in your manual, registration certificate or on the engine base itself. The first letter shows you the ‘engine family’. The first number tells you how many cylinders your engine has, while the second tells you if it’s the original design or a later-revised version.

The fourth digit, a letter, tells you what fuel the engine runs on and how the fuel pump has been fitted to the engine. The fifth and sixth digits tell you the capacity of the engine – so a 1.8-litre engine, for example, will be written as 18. You might also see TU at the end, which stands for technical update.


Whether you’re looking to finance a BMW or purchase one, we have a wide range of second-hand BMWs available to buy online safely with Click & Collect and home delivery options available.

Click here to browse all our used BMW models.

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Representative example
Monthly Payment £359.10
Deposit £249
Term (Months) 60
Cash Price £16998
Credit Amount £16749
Completion Fee £1
Total Amount Payable £21,796
Fixed Interest Rate 5.7%
Representative APR 10.9%
Arnold Clark Automobiles Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (308092) for general insurance and consumer credit purposes. We act as a credit broker sourcing credit to assist with your purchase from a carefully selected panel of lenders. Lenders will pay us a fee for these introductions (click here for details including our panel of lenders and disclosure statement). Offers subject to status, terms and conditions.
* MPG figures are obtained in laboratory testing and intended for comparisons between vehicles. Please be aware they’re not intended to represent real world efficiency.