BMW 3 Series Hybrid review
BMW’s 330e plug-in hybrid offers a fabulous blend of power, poise, parsimony and panache – if you can afford it, that is
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The BMW 330e saloon is the plug-in hybrid derivative of the long-serving 3 Series range and it’s not only a great car for business user-choosers, it could be the best bet if you are in the market for a prestige family vehicle that’s easy on the wallet.
But as the old saying goes, you can please some of the people, all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people, some of the time. Can the BMW 330e really satisfy on all fronts?
BMW likes to underplay its PHEVs and the 330e is no exception. Clock the boot badge or spy the charging port on the 3 Series’ front wing and you’ll know what it is, but from a distance it looks like any other model in the range. The plug-in is only sold in glitzier M Sport specification, so it has big alloys and a strident body kit, but some people find the styling of the 3 Series in general to be too fussy.
Inside the car, the BMW 330e has one of the best interiors of any car in this class. Space up front and in the back is generous, save for in the centre-rear seat where anyone sitting there will have to place their feet either side of a transmission tunnel, and the quality of all the materials and textures used is top-notch.
Then there’s the infotainment, BMW’s unbeatable iDrive. It now comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is great news for non-iPhone users because Android Auto wasn’t always supported before. Everything is presented on the crisp, driver-angled screen and you can control the infotainment through several different methods, including touch, control wheel or even hand gestures. Pity the BMW’s digital instrument cluster isn’t as good to look at, however.
Outright boot space, as on so many PHEVs, is sacrificed on the 330e, with 375 litres of capacity fully 105 litres down on any pure-combustion alternative in the line-up.
This plug-in BMW does pretty much everything you want it to and to a suitably high standard
Power comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an 83kW (113hp) electric motor. You get 31 miles of all-electric range on a 12kWh lithium-ion battery, with 37g/km of CO2 and around 157mpg theoretically possible, but the 292hp/420Nm 330e is fast, too – 0-62mph takes just 5.9 seconds. It’s just a shame the four-cylinder engine sounds so nasal while going about its duties.
Battery charging isn’t quite as quick as the 330e’s performance. Expect a full battery after 5.5 hours on a domestic three-pin socket and more like 2.5 hours on a public charger or a 7kW wallbox. PHEVs very rarely have access to DC charging, you see.
While its weight has increased to a portly 1.8 tonnes in this specification, the BMW 330e doesn’t feel too much like a hulking great lump on a twisty road. It’s maybe not as sharp as its petrol and diesel version, but it’ll still run rings round Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class alternatives. Great steering and sweetly tuned suspension help the 3 Series plug-in hybrid a great deal in this regard.
It’s just as good on the motorway, too, with impressive comfort levels and good reduction of unwanted noises trying to make their way into the cabin. You need to charge it regularly to get the best from it, but the 2.0-litre engine doesn’t lose all its economy benefits once the battery goes flat.
Overall, the BMW 330e is very close to being not only a jack of all trades, but a master of them too. Apart from a steep asking price, this plug-in BMW does pretty much everything to a suitably high standard indeed.
You can look up the best deals on the BMW 330e on carwow, right here or tap on the button below to configure your ideal 3 Series PHEV.