E90 LCI vs Pre-LCI: Which BMW 3 Series is Right for You?

If you are new to using BMW and you’ve heard of the E90 LCI and pre-LCI you are probably trying to compare them both in your head. LCI stands for life cycle impulse and this is an update given to newer BMW models. 

This article explores the features of the E90 LCI vs pre-LCI BMW series and the difference between these two models. We will also dive deep into which series is good for you and why.

What is the BMW E90 3 series model?
The E90 BMW 3 series is a sedan that has several models released from 2006 up until 2012. This series kicked off with the 318i model which had the following features:
  • 2 liter inline
  • 4 N46 that deliver 127 horsepower
  • 130-pound feet of torque

Other models in this series include 320i, 320si, 325i, 328i, and 330i.

The 2007 model, saw an upgrade in terms of power and overall performance as it has an N43 in place of the N46 at the same size and it delivered 141 horsepower and 140 pound feet of torque as an output. For the 320i series, the 2006 model still had the same 4 N46 but delivered more output at 148 horsepower and 150 pound feet of torque.

The 2007 320i model had an upgraded N43 that delivered 168 horsepower and 155 pound feet of torque. Between 2006 and 2007, BMW launched a new model, the 320si, which had a 4-liter inline, an N45, and an excellent output of 170 horsepower and 150 pound feet torque. 

2005-2007 323i has a 2.5 liter, N52, and power output of 174 horsepower and 170 pound feet of torque. From 2007, the N52 is upgraded and so is the output as it delivers 200 horsepower and 180 pound feet of torque. 

Then came the 325i series which covered 2005-2006 models and had an enhanced N52. It delivered 215 horsepower and 180 pound feet of torque. The 2007 model had an excellent upgrade that boosted it2 torque to 200 pound feet, and while the power remained the same, the engine capacity was increased to 3 liters.

2007 brought with it the new member of the 3 series. The 328i featured an enhanced 231 horsepower and 200 pound feet of torque. Finally, the 330i series featured a bigger 3.0-liter engine capacity, an N52 that produced an output of 255 horsepower and 220 pound feet torque. Newer models of 330i had a surge in output with about 268 horsepower and 240 pound feet of torque. 

E90 LCI vs Pre-LCI: which series is right for you?


If you ask most BMW LCI users the difference from the pre-LCI model, the common answer you will hear is that the LCI model has a “facelift” upgrade. However, the improvements to the LCI models as compared to the pre-LCI models go deeper than this physical feature. The LCI upgrade can have an improved drivetrain, paint, and interior changes. BMW does not use a specific template in the LCI upgrade as the new features vary from model to model. LCI is a feature that has been present in BMW cars since 2009 and with each new model, LCI brings in new features.

Although a lot of BMW users prefer the LCI series because of its sleek look and edges, others still prefer the somewhat sporty look of the pre-LCI series. When it comes to E90 LCI vs pre-LCI BMW, you should choose what kind of series you want based on your preference for appearance and performance.  

How to convert your E90 pre-LCI to an LCI

Converting a pre-LCI E90 3 series to an LCI requires you to make changes to some parts of your car. For complete conversion, you need to modify your BMW’s headlights, tail lights, side skirts, lip spoiler, rear bumper, front bumper, and hood. However, for a basic conversion process, we will be guiding you through upgrading your headlights, front bumper, taillights, and rear bumper.

Front bumper

To install new headlights, open the hood of your car and take off the seals for a better installation process. Use a screwdriver to loosen the 40mm and 30mm screws holding the upper part of the bumper in place. If you have a bumper cover in place, you should loosen the nuts holding them in place before removing the actual bumpers.

You need to remove the nuts and bolts holding the bumper at the headlight sides and completely unclip them to access the headlights better. 


Remove the fog light and other nuts and bolts securing the headlights, then pull the headlights forward and remove the connector for each headlight. 

After removing the old headlights, position the new ones, insert the connector back in place, and tighten the nuts and bolts needed to secure the headlights. Post installation of your new headlights, you can now fix your new bumper using the appropriate fasteners. If you wish to still keep your bumper cover, then you can install it.

Your new headlights and bumper should give the front of your BMW E90 a facelift which is the first step to completing the conversion process. 



To remove the outside taillights, open the compartment on the harness on the side of your car trunk to reveal a connector and 3 screws. To remove the outside taillights, unplug the connectors and loosen the fasteners to remove the outside taillights. If it gets difficult to reach any screw, you can open a large section of the harness to make it easier. When the screws are out, all you need to do is pull out the taillights. 

To remove the inner taillights, remove the fasteners on the trunk lining and pop off the grab handle to give you more access to the taillights. Each inner taillight should have one screw holding each of them in place, remove the connectors on each of them before taking out the screws and removing the taillights. 

Rear bumper

After taking off the taillights, you need to locate and loosen the three 8 mm screws on the side of the bumper near the tires that holds the bumper to the quarter panel. Underneath the bumper, twelve more 8 mm screws are holding it in place and you need to loosen them to completely remove the bumper. 

Just below the taillight area, bumper guides are protecting the clips attaching the bumper to the quarter panel. If you pop open the bumper guide and take off the clips, you are done uninstalling your bumpers. Using the reverse process, you can now install your upgraded rear bumper and taillights to give the back of your car a facelift look that is similar to an E90 LCI model.


You may be wondering what the big difference between the E90 LCI vs pre-LCI BMW 3 series is, but if you have noticed the difference in appearance, that’s most of it. Other differences include minor upgrades in the performance system. This article has explained the entire BMW 3 series and given a guide on which model is great for you.

If you are set on having an LCI BMW, no worries, after reading this post, you should be able to convert your car from a pre-LCI to an LCI in your garage. You can do even more if you decide to upgrade other components besides the bumpers and head and tail lights.