BMW E36 Compact

The BMW E36 Compact is a 3-Series family car with a truncated lift back version of the BMW 3-Series cars manufactured by the German automaker BMW, between the years 1993 and 2004, and its designed was based on the BMW E36 platform. BMW then moved on to the BMW E46 range of cars in 2001 with production of the Compact range ceasing in 2004.

The E36 Compact was popular throughout Europe. The E36 Compact's rear wheel drive layout was unique for the segment. From front bumper to A pillar, the Compact is identical to the BMW 3 Series (E36) sedan, sharing the front fenders, bumpers, lights, windshield, wing mirrors, and the hood. As with the entire E36 range, the E36/5 also shares an identical wheelbase.

Similarities with the E36 sedan coupe range ended here, from the fire wall or A-pillar to the rear of the vehicle the E36/5 is unique from others in the E36 range featuring unique framed doors, windows, roof, trunk pan, taillights, and suspension were all special.

The BMW E36/5 Compact shares its suspension with the BMW Z3. The front employs the E36's standard MacPherson strut design, while the rear suspension uses a semi trailing arm from the previous model BMW 3 Series (E30).

The E36/5 made use of the older semi-trailing arm rear axle, as opposed to the E36's Z-Axle Multi-link suspension, as the trailing arm design was smaller, it allowed for a more lower trunk floor height, fold down rear seats, and an exterior undermounted compact spare tire.

The inherent design of the trailing arm suspension was that it favoured oversteer. Consequently, the BMW Compact received mixed reviews from the automotive press, some claiming the chassis was the most balanced of the E36 range, while others said that the car wandered and darted in a straight line, and was uncomposed in the corners. It is popular with enthusiasts, being the lightest, best handling and least expensive.

In North America, the sole engine available was the DOHC 1.8 litre, 138 bhp or 103 kW four-cylinder BMW M42 engine for the 1995 model year. In 1996, to make the car compliant the engine was updated and expanded to 1.9 liters, thus the BMW M44 engine. Consequently, all E36 Compacts sold in North America were the standard 318ti.

The USA Compact 318ti’s came in three different interior trims and finishes. The active package had items such as an on board computer, cruise control, leather seats, fog lights, alloy wheels and sunroof. The sport package equipped the car with M-technic suspension, foglights, alloy wheels, sport seats and a limited slip diff.

A Clubsport edition was offered in 1995. All 3 models had a one-piece dashboard and the E36 Compact shared the same style of seats as the 3-series range of cars. The Clubsport had upgraded suspension, limited slip diff, sport seats, and M-aerodynamic body styling kits including front and rear bumpers and mirrors.

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