In the perfect scenario we would all like to have our cake and eat it, wouldn’t we? Traveling to the other side of the world without the tedious journey time, vanquishing delicious deserts without putting on weight, big nights out without the hangover. Whilst the new 2016 BMW 3 Series 330e might not be able to help you with hypersonic flight, your metabolism, or a sore head, it can deliver on another oxymoron. A premium car without the premium car running costs.
Looks like a 3 Series doesn’t it? Well, of course it does but considering that this car could represent what the majority of us will have in our driveways in the future, it appears rather normal. Thankfully the new 3 Series is a pretty good looking car with its signature chromed kidney grills and detailed headlights. Clean lines lead your eyes from nose to tail beginning with that long bonnet and ending with a short rear overhang. Looking as executive as a BMW should, this German saloon ticks the visuals box.
Moving inside to the cabin reveals a masterful demonstration of build quality and ergonomics. Glossy plastics and metallic trims creates an upmarket atmosphere for occupants. Leather upholsters the seats with the two front posts being highly adjustable. In our test car they were also heated. Red stitching lines the steering wheel with legible analogue dials in clear view. You sit low in the car giving the sense that you are cocooned. The very intuitive BMW iDrive infotainment system with widescreen display is easy to use and arguably one of the best on sale today. Rear occupants have good head and leg room, although the middle passenger will have to straddle the transmission tunnel. A shallow rear window can be restrictive in terms of visibility and so a reversing camera is advisable. The boot is a bit smaller than that found on the standard 3 Series, but the 370 litres offered is adequate for most scenarios.
So if it looks like a 3 Series and feels like a 3 Series inside, what makes the 330e so special? The clue is in the name as this model possesses a battery, hence the reduced boot space, as well as a 2.0 litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine. In tandem they produce 248 BHP and can get the car from 0-62 MPH in 6.1 seconds. Opening the taps releases a surge of torque and reveals some rather brisk performance. When in Sport or Sport Plus this 2016 BMW 3 Series 330e behaves in a manner expected of any BMW. Keen handling illustrated by sharp steering and a willingness to dart towards an apex is a joy for those who enjoy driving. Masterful control of body roll and confidence inspiring grip levels highlights just how well engineered this chassis is. Prod the throttle at that pinnacle moment and Sport Plus will let the rear come out to play. An excellent 8 speed automatic transmission delivers fast, precise, and absolutely seamless shifts. Whilst the ride is a tad on the firm side, it is far from back breaking. Everything from the control weighting to the feedback the car gives the driver is of the standard that gained this model its notable reputation. Whilst this car is arguably as much fun as the 330i, a big bonus is its reduced running costs. 49g/km CO2 and a claimed 148 MPG combined. The 330e is capable of running on electric alone for up to 25 miles in “MAX eDrive” which is ideal for stop/start traffic. The blissfully quiet transit without combustion is very relaxing. Even when the petrol engine kicks in, the cabin remains a relatively peaceful environment. In “Auto” the car switches between using the battery and its fuel for the best economy. In the real world we achieved the high 50s in terms of MPG. Regenerative braking aids charging the battery on the move, but plug it into a fast charger from empty and it will take about 2 hours. Charging from the mains at home requires 3.5 hours. For the average commute to work this cars fuel costs will be much lower than its non-hybrid equivalent.
The 2016 BMW 3 Series 330e provides enthusiasts with a machine capable of putting a smile on your face whilst offering all of the benefits of a hybrid. With a petrol engine onboard you don’t have the dread of “range anxiety” whilst the batteries offer a notable cost saving benefit. I have found it rather difficult to fault this car as there is very little more I could ask of it. At £34,235 it isn’t a cheap car, it is a premium product though and so such a price is par for the course. Interestingly it is less than £1,000 more expensive than its petrol opposite number making the choice a rather simple one.