The 3 Series grows up. Enthusiasts saw it as the softening of their favorite compact executive. While less snappy and tail happy than its predecessor, the E30, it remained the sharpest driving tool in its class. Despite the perceived "softening", the overall package made it more appealing for everyone else.
The new decade brought in a new clean sheet design. It was smoother, more aerodynamic. The E36 would set the design direction of 90's BMW's. The roundies were now enclosed and the kidneys are wider. The low nose and high tail would also become a theme of the 90's.
It was bigger in all directions and gave more room inside, the E36 addressed the space issue its predecessor had. While rear room still wasn't the great, there was more wiggle room in the back. Trunk access was also improved with the lowering of its liftover height.
If you needed more space, the Touring model now had more useable space. Gone was the beer crate gap and suspension obstructions to make way for easier access and more cargo space.
This generation also gave birth to the Compact. While it somewhat resembled a heavily rear ended coupe, one can see shades of the 2002 touring and it could be said that this was one of the predecessors of the 1 Series
So, the E36 3 Series. More grown up and more mature. Does that mean it lost its sense of fun?
Not a chance.
The Z3 was a mix of E30 and E36.
The Clownshoe remains a popular 'Ring raider to this day
Obligatory sideways shot.
The lineup wouldn't be complete without the M3. This time, even the M3 lineup was expanded.
Of course, the coupes still remained the sales leader of the M's. This M3 GT was one of many special editions that came out.
The Lightweight was one of the more hardcore M3's that came out in the E36.
For the family man, there was now an M3 sedan.
The E36 also competed in various motorsports. In higher forms of motorsport, it was butting heads with Porsches.
In lower classes, it was busy fighting off Vauxhall Cavaliers and Ford Mondeos.
And now, it's sideways time
Despite the earlier criticism the struck the E36, it was a runaway success and outselling the E30 by over 600,000 cars. It broke the three million unit barrier and lay the road ahead for its successor, the E46