BMW’s 3 Series Touring is a brilliant all-rounder. Now the latest BMW plug-in hybrid powertrain makes it an even more appealing package, combining low CO2 emissions with excellent performance, luxury and carrying capacity.
You can see why BMW prefer ‘Touring’ to ‘estate’, with the latter term conjuring up images of boxy and ill-handling load-carriers. OK, you maybe can’t get a Victorian wardrobe into a 3 Series Touring, but you can get a family and luggage for a long holiday and you’ll have a very handsome, sporting car to enjoy all year round. With its distinctive BMW kidney grille, slim LED headlights, strongly profiled side panels and fastback tail it’s a sporty and distinctive alternative to the default SUV, and in many ways more practical too. Sport and M Sport trim gets the high-gloss black Shadowline exterior brightwork where SE has aluminium; wheels are 17” V-spokes for the SE and 18” alloys for Sport and 18” double-V spoke for M Sport.
The 330e Touring is available either in rear-drive form or as the 330e xDrive Touring, featuring BMW’s excellent all-wheel drive system. The advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine combined with an electric motor that’s neatly integrated within the 8-speed Steptronic transmission. A 12kWh lithium ion battery sits beneath the boot floor. Maximum power is 252 metric horsepower, though the electric motor can add a further 40hp in XtraBoost mode for ten seconds at a time. Zero to 62mph takes just 6.1 seconds in rear-drive form and 6.0 seconds with the extra traction of xDrive all-wheel drive. But apart from thrilling performance there’s another side to the 330e Touring; the WLTP combined fuel economy is quoted as 176-201mpg (your own figure will depend on how much of the journey is in electric-only mode) and CO2 emissions are around 37g/km, a huge incentive for company car tax payers to take a closer look. Electric-only range is 34 miles, and it can charge from empty in 3.4 hours with a 7.4kW charger.
All 330e Touring models come with the range-topping BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which gives the driver a 10.25” instrument display, the intuitive iDrive controller, a central 10.25” control display and the BMW operating system 7.0 which includes an intelligent voice assistant. The BMW online services package is free for the first three years and renewable by subscription thereafter. Other highlights include ambient lighting, Bluetooth hands-free and BMW Connected which includes music streaming, navigation and real-time traffic updates. Unique to the 330e Plug-In Hybrid models is the capability to pre-condition the cabin with heating or cooling while the vehicle is still connected to the charger.
Whether you choose SE, Sport or M Sport you’ll enjoy the protection of 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 lane control, active cruise control, city braking, and cross traffic warning is available as an option with the M Sport trim.
With its agile handling, impressive performance, ample space and advanced technology the BMW 3 Series Touring is arguably the best all-rounder on the UK’s roads today. It’s also a great-looking car with the cachet of a prestige badge. What the 330e adds the ability to run for 34 miles on electric power alone, with outstandingly low CO2 emissions and exemption from congestion charges. The ultimate plug-in hybrid driving machine?