In the world of hybrids and electric vehicles, technology is racing ahead. As pioneers in both, BMW continue to update their range and one of the most significant new PHEV models is the BMW 330e. Why? Because the 3 Series is already a class leader, and because the new PHEV drivetrain delivers BMW performance with brilliant mpg, CO2 and company car tax figures.
You can’t mistake a 3 Series for any other prestige saloon. The short front overhang, long bonnet and familiar profile is designed to give the impression of a fast predator preparing to spring. Other design cues include the famed ‘Hofmeister kink’ (a low forward bend at the C-pillar), the BMW kidney grille smoothly integrated into the sculpted bonnet and slim LED headlights. Choose the SE or M Sport and the exterior brightwork is in high gloss black Shadowline; inside the cabin is trimmed in high-gloss black (SE and Sport models) or aluminium Tetragon (M Sport models).
This is where it gets interesting. The new 330e has almost double the electric-only driving range compared with the previous model. With CO2 emissions as low as 37g/km, company car users will find their Benefit in Kind tax bill slashed when they switch from a conventional petrol or diesel rival. The hybrid powertrain features a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled with an electric motor that’s neatly integrated into the eight-speed Steptronic transmission. A 12.0kWh lithium-ion high-voltage battery is positioned underneath the rear seats so the boot volume, though a little smaller, is a still-generous 375 litres. Together, the petrol engine and electric motor develop 252hp and 420Nm of torque, with an XtraBoost function that boosts power to 293hp for brief periods when required. Acceleration from 0-62mph takes just 5.9 seconds and the electric-only range is up to 37 miles. Fuel economy on the WLTP cycle is 188.3-201.8mpg though the figure you’ll achieve depends on how much of your journey is electric-powered.
There are three trim levels, SE, Sport and M Sport and even in SE guise the specification is comprehensive. All models come with BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which has a 10.25 digital instrument display and a 10.25 control infotainment touchscreen as well as the easy to use iDrive controller. This also includes the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, a Siri-like voice command system. Other features include a three-year subscription to BMW online services, and Connected Package Professional which includes map updates, navigation and music streaming.
Every model is equipped with Active Guard Plus, a package that comprises front collision warning with brake intervention, lane departure warning and speed limit assist. Parking Assistant is also standard and includes a reversing assistant, park distance control and rear camera. The Driving Assistant Professional package, with steering and land control, active cruise control, city braking and cross traffic warning is only available as an option with the M Sport model.
If you’re looking for a sporting, prestige compact saloon with good eco-credentials, the BMW 330e could be a no-brainer. That’s especially true for company car drivers for whom the 37g/km CO 2 figure will make a significant difference to their take-home salary. Performance is exhilarating, there’s the potential to make electric-only journeys of up to 37 miles and apart from the slightly smaller boot space the benefits of PHEV motoring require no compromise with this deeply impressive 3 Series.