This is not the first time that BMW has tried the plug-in hybrid on its flagship sedan. It is even a technology already rather worn out on the 3 Series since the first hybrid variant dates back to 2012, on the F30 generation, and the ActiveHybrid3 version. Initially, it was not a plug-in hybrid but more of a kind of boost to supplement the thermal engine, namely a 3.0-liter six-cylinder that developed a cumulative power of 340 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. .
With each new generation, manufacturers are used to presenting us cars that are always more powerful and efficient than the versions before. In 2016, when the BMW 3 Series became 330th, it traded in its six-cylinder for a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a cumulative output of 252 horsepower. It will become rechargeable at the same time. For this new generation of 330e, the recipe is still optimized, although it still relies on a 184-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine.
Comfortable electric autonomy
The main changes revolve around the electric motor since it develops up to 113 peak horsepower against 88 for the older generation dating from 2016. In total, the driver benefits from a generous power of 292 horses and 420 Nm of torque cumulatively, for more than honorable performance with a 0 to 100 km / h shot in the space of 5.9 seconds.
Announced at 40 kilometers of electric autonomy on the 330th of 2016, the new version claims about 60 kilometers, something that we were able to verify in our test with more than 62 kilometers traveled before the battery was completely empty. Bad luck for us, we only had a charging cable with a type 2 plug and not an AC outlet in our test model. We were therefore not able to recharge at home.
Finding a properly functioning kiosk that can be unlocked via a universal card being a tedious exercise in town, so we spent the rest of our test with the battery with a capacity of 12 kWh partially empty. However, we were able to recharge it slightly thanks to the recovery of kinetic energy or the use of the "Save Battery" function, which makes it possible to force the use of the heat engine to recharge the battery.
Charging, an element not to be overlooked
In general, to really optimize the use of a plug-in hybrid, it is necessary to recharge it regularly. Its fully electric range allows 90% of its daily trips to be made without using the heat engine. In our case, with more than 400 kilometers of highway during our test, we did not necessarily have the typical use of a plug-in hybrid customer, even if a Series 3 is basically a road.
As a result, our average consumption was quite high during our test with more than 8.2 l / 100 kilometers recorded during our 600 kilometers traveled, with some parts of dynamic driving, BMW obliges.
Because even if the 330e Touring may not be the most efficient car on all types of routes, it has at least had the merit of showing excellent comfort and dynamic driving skills, despite its 270 kilos more compared to a 330i and its 1965 kilos displayed on the scale. Our test model being equipped with four-wheel drive via the xDrive system, this adds 60 additional kilos compared to a 330e in rear-wheel drive.
Driving pleasure still there?
Precise front axle, honorable performance, well-tuned chassis, firm suspensions without being uncomfortable … There is no lack of positive points for this 330e Touring and road behavior is not altered by excess weight due to hybridization. The "Sport" mode is even rather nice with a pleasant sound, even if the gearbox will tend to drag on too long on high revs for our taste. It is strangely regulated, even in "Sport" mode, for a car that focuses on efficiency above all.
Be that as it may, fans of the BMW 3 Series who wish to cross the threshold from thermal to hybrid will not be clearly disappointed, on the contrary, especially with the dynamic services offered, without ever neglecting comfort. Still, it will be necessary to regularly think about charging the battery to benefit from the advantages of the electric motor and to be able to evolve up to 140 km / h in electric mode. The battery recharges from 0 to 80% within 2 hours 25 minutes with the 3.7 kW charger.
A BMW 3 Series like any other
Outside and inside, nothing distinguishes the 330e from a 330i for example, apart from a few blue details and the hatch for the electric recharge located at the level of the front left wing. If the older generation suffered from a slight delay compared to the Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class in terms of finish, it is now history with an impeccable quality of presentation and controls facing the driver.
The more observant will have noticed the addition of the "Hybrid" and "Electric" keys at the level of the central console for the driving modes or even some additional menus within the infotainment system, linked precisely to its particular engine. Unlike other engines, BMW provides the digital instrumentation system paired with the 10.3-inch touchscreen as standard on the 330e. If the space at the rear remains quite adequate, the presence of the battery under the floor of the trunk reduces the volume of the trunk by a few liters, 90 in this case to peak at 410 liters instead of the 500 thermal versions.
At what price ?
Available from 53'250 euros in Touring version and 51,450 euros in sedan, the 330e is not necessarily sold off by the brand and is a little more expensive by 4,000 euros compared to a 330i of 258 horsepower and equivalent performance. An additional cost justified by the fact of being able to drive without consuming gasoline for more than 60 kilometers in the city, but also by the total absence of malus since a 330i Touring will be penalized with a tax of between 540 and 1,629 euros, according to the scale in force in 2020, due to emissions of between 155 and 166 g / km of CO2.
In general, this type of motorization remains very complicated to amortize for an individual and will certainly suit businesses better. Professionals benefit from a total exemption from tax on company vehicles, a higher depreciation limit and 80% recoverable VAT on gasoline from 1er January 2021. Our test model, in "M Sport" finish and with some additional options, is exchanged for 77,040 euros.
The main competitors of the 330th Touring are not necessarily on the side of Audi and Mercedes contrary to what one might think. The Audi A4 is not yet entitled to its plug-in hybrid version, while the aging Mercedes C-Class will be replaced soon, although it is entitled to two interesting hybrid versions with a petrol proposal of 211 horsepower and another 194 horsepower diesel.
Finally, the Volvo V60 Polestar is perhaps its most serious competitor at the moment, even if it is bursting with horsepower with 390 at the base and even 405 for the Polestar Engineered version. A Recharge T6 version of 340 horsepower has come to lighten the bill a little for the acquisition of a plug-in hybrid V60, even if the entry ticket remains higher than a 330th Touring (from 60,900 euros).
Let us not also forget the newcomer, the Peugeot 508 SW PSE and its 360 horsepower, but which also relies on a purely sporting aspect. Less expensive, the 225 hp 508 SW HYbrid can also be a good alternative, as can the 218 hp Volkswagen Passat SW GTE, although some concessions will have to be made on the truly premium side.
Still, this BMW 330e is rather well placed and today gives everything that one expects from a BMW, with the added bonus of being able to drive most of the time on electric power. Despite everything, it will not be able to agree to the use of large rollers, diesel being even more advantageous.
|Good points||Negative points|
|Driving pleasure preserved||Trunk amputated by a few liters|
|Autonomy in electric mode||Not really suitable for big rollers|
|Impeccable presentation||Always elitist prices|