There’s a new BMW 3 Series in town and it’s quite possibly the pick of the model range.
Using the same technology found in BMW’s rock star hybrid the i8, the 330e, the first plug-in hybrid 3 Series offers brilliant economy and great performance.
An electric motor is wedged between the twin turbo four cylinder combustion engine and the eight speed automatic transmission for a combined power output of 185kW and 420Nm.
The 2016 BMW 330e isn’t just about performance. BMW claim an average thirst of 2.1 litres per 100km. With a bit of planning, not only is that figure achievable, but it can be bettered.
Plug in the 330e for about 3 hours for a full battery charge from empty and you’ll get about 30-35km of pure electric driving.
If you’re like the average Aussie motorists who travels about 30km a day it’s totally conceivable that you could get through the entire working week without the petrol engine ever starting.
Just treat it like your mobile phone and plug it in to charge overnight.
Put the 330e into sports mode though and you’ll get the combined power of both engines. The acceleration is brisk from a standstill, 100 km/h flashes up in just 6.1 seconds, and it dispatches high speed overtakes with ease piling on speed at a rapid rate of knots.
The 330e carries about 165 kg more than the standard 330i, but with all the extra torque available you won’t notice.
The handling of the hybrid BMW is near on identical to the very capable non electric 3 Series thanks to near perfect weight distribution.
Big wheels and skinny run flat tyres don’t do a lot for ride comfort, although it does handle rough stuff relatively well. It loves a corner and it’s a really satisfying car to drive with pace.
The steering is light in car parks and meaty at speed and send lots of communication back through the steering wheel.
Inside it’s the usual BMW fair. The architecture is functional and familiar. The materials used in the cabin are first class, and as you’d expect, the build quality is second to none.
The iDrive system just keeps getting better. It’s intuitive and easy to use, and with the scratch pad where you can trace numbers and letters, you’ll never need to physically touch your phone again.
There’s a full suite of all the latest safety technologies standard.
Blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, radar cruise control, city emergency braking, colour head-up display and 360 degree camera all help keep you on the straight and narrow, and of course there’s more airbags and crumple zones than you can poke a stick at.
The biggest highlight of the BMW 330e is the price.
At $71,900 before on road costs, the 330e is only $2,000 more than the garden variety 330i, yet uses about a third of the fuel and posses 70Nm more torque.
In my mind it’s a no brainer to go for the hybrid version.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 BMW 330e
Engine: 2.0 litre twin-turbo petrol and an electric motor developing 185kW and 420Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Warranty: Three years
Safety: Not tested
Origin: South Africa
Price: from $71,900