The medium sized sedan segment isn’t lacking any diversity, and neither is one of the best competitors in it, the BMW 3-series. Still, BMW decided it’s time for a plug-in hybrid version to be introduced to the lineup, and it dubbed it the 330e iPerformance. More on specific details further down below, but it uses a combustion engine and an electric motor, just like many hybrids out there. It also can be driven purely on electricity should you wish to do so.
Regardless which 3-series you take into account, whether it be diesel, gasoline or the top of the line M3, you’ll find they’re one of the most competitive cars in their respectful class. Well, the 330e isn’t any different. BMW continues to raise the bar with every car they make, including this new hybrid one.
The outside of the car is probably the dullest thing about it. There aren’t a lot if any features are separating it from the normal 3-series model. The front fascia is a bit more aggressive and does manage to liven up the otherwise mundane looking 3-series, but other than that it’s BMW as usual. The trademark kidney grills are still there, like in any other BMW.
In all honesty, there are only two differences when it comes to the exterior. The first tell-tale sign that this isn’t your ordinary 3-series but rather a hybrid is a small door just in front of the driver’s door. It looks similar to a gasoline cap, but that’s because it has the same function, it just uses a cord to “fill up” rather than a hose from a pump. In short, it’s the charge port for the battery.
The second noticeable change is a lower insert in the rear fascia. Because the 330e is a hybrid, it uses a smaller combustion engine compared to the car it’s based on. This means that at the back there is only one set of dual exhaust pipes. To fix that, BMW has modified the insert to fit snugly around the exhaust tips, and make it appear like the original outlet area has been planned for this car in mind all along.
The interior won’t be much of a surprise either. We’re sorry to announce that it’s the same interior, carried over from the standard car. Although it may be boring, it’s something we’re all familiar with and love. If there’s one thing the standardization between the models in the interior brought, besides the predictability and dullness, is a very familiar looking cockpit every time you get in one.
The materials used in the cabin are superb, and as you would expect the fit and finish of everything is top-notch. Try as you might find any faults, we guarantee the interior will last for ages and miles to come. It just feels solidly built, to the extent that it could withstand years and years of harsh abuse without even breaking a sweat.
The only difference, a minute one, is a new eDrive button controlling the three unique drive programs. There’s AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE, and SAVE BATTERY. The system is easy to use and intuitive; at least once you get a hang of it. BMW’s eDrive has been known to be somewhat confusing in the first few times of usage, but you get accustomed to it in no time. It’s by no means user-friendly, but it is manageable and loaded with all sorts of options so it worth’s a while dedicating some time to learn everything.
There’s a Proactive Driving Assistant system, something that is specific only for the hybrid. What it does is it links your ConnectedDrive to the BMW EfficienyDynamics system. The system gets data from your navigation (provided you’re using it of course) and determines when and how it can use the electric power. So for instance, if it knows you’re going to hit heavy traffic or are going through slow streets, it will automatically only use the electric motor alone.
Finally, we get to the heart of the beast. Or should we say… hearts. The gasoline engine is the same familiar turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder, developing 180 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque thankfully to a turbocharger that is strapped on. The electric motor is supplied from 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery, and further aids the gasoline engine with its 87 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. This brings the total power up to 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. It may not seem like a whole lot, but it’s eight hp and 55 lb-ft more than the 328i version. Think about that for a minute and you will agree that it is a decent competitor.
Both of the motors send their power through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. It is a BMW, so naturally, it’s rear-wheel drive just like any other 3-Series. Unlike most hybrids, the electric motor here doesn’t send power directly to the wheels, but rather channels it through the transmission first. This reduces stress on both the engine and the transmission.
The development of the i-cars naturally provided a helping hand in the making of the 330e iPerformance. The knowledge from building those cars went into this one, more specifically into the battery management system as well as the cooling one. Do note, however; you don’t need a high-output charging station to recharge the battery. You can do it from the comfort of your home, using just your regular household socket but this may take a while, so we do recommend more powerful charging option.
The performance is electric. Pun intended. The 330e finished the 0 to 60 miles per hour sprint in just 5.9 seconds, and will go on to a top speed of 140 mph. Now we don’t know about you, but we reckon there aren’t a lot of hybrids that can do that, at least not ones that immediately come to mind and are in similar price range.
2017 BMW 330e iPerformance Price
We highly recommend checking out the 2017 BMW 330e iPerformance if you’re in the market for a hybrid. It manages to go down the hybrid route without losing any of the core elements that the 3-Series brings. It’s fast, comfortable and does everything you want it to. It can even drive for 14 miles just using the battery alone after which it will switch to a gasoline unit.
Prices begin at $44,695, and it is worth every penny of that. We also need to add that the base version of 3 Series starts at $33,150 while the closer and more comparable model the 328i with 240 hp is priced from $38,350. Pretty substantial extra is required if you want to take plug-in hybrid version.