The BMW 3 series Compact is considered to be the grandfather of the BMW 1 series. A significant (if not by design) model tweak allowed a smaller, but seemingly fitting model to be squeezed into the whole product range.
The 3 series compact is basically a truncated liftback version of the BMW 3 series produced by the German automaker between 1993 and 2004 on first, the E36 chassis, then after 2001 on the E46 platform. While it shared a wheelbase of the full-fledged 3 series, it did come with some different specs - which may i add made it fricking awesome!
something similar can be said about the first generation 1 series with diesel engines providing better acceleration, more torque and more fun!
The E36/5 compact shares its suspension with the BMW Z3; the front suspension employs the E36's standard MacPherson strut desgin, 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 lower trunk floor height, fold-down rear seats, and an exterior undermounted compact spare tire.
The inherent desgin of the trailing arm suspension was that if favored over-steer. while journalists everywhere were happy to discourage anyone from buying the car, the fun factor was there: it was prone to over-steer. its also a rather driver-intensive vehicle, requiring enough work and skills to master it properly.
design wise, the E36 compact was a slightly more successful model than the E46 variant which stood out with its weird headlights, a first and last for BMW. None of the two variants were considered to be award-winning designs and didn't add to the bottom of BMW sales, but the enthusiasts seemed to have enjoyed their athletic capabilities.