The E30 was introduced in the U.S. in 1984 as the 318i. It had a new two-door body style, but the 1.8 liter four pot was a direct carry-over from the E21 320i. In late 1984, BMW dropped the 2.7 liter inline six (M20/B27) from the 528e into the new E30 chassis. This gave the new chassis some refinement and added performance (121 hp and 170 lb-ft versus 101 hp and 103 lb-ft for the four).
In mid-1985, the four-door 325e and 318i were introduced. 1986 brought the 325es, which came with a firmer suspension, limited-slip differential, spoilers on both ends, Recaro-style sport seats, and a three-spoke “sport” steering wheel. In 1987, the higher-revving 2.5 liter “i” engine was added to the model lineup, bringing the total of 3-series variants in the States to six (325, 325e, 325es, 325i, 325is, and 325ic).
1988 brought a redesign, giving E30s ellipsoidal headlights and slightly smaller bumpers. Additionally, BMW enlarged the taillights and integrated the foglights into the bumper. The Eta engine was only used in the base 325 that year. Horsepower was raised slightly to 127 (thus the moniker “super-Eta”) through the use of an “i” head, pistons, exhaust system, and Motronic 1.1 engine management.