BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid Test Drive Review

2 years ago by Mark Kane 46

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

The upcoming BMW 330e plug-in hybrid (see 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show pics), which will start at $43,700 MSRP ($44,695 after deducting $995 dst), was recently tested by Autocar.

Autocar called the 300e “one of the most engaging hybrids on the market right now“.

Range of this model is estimated by BMW at some 25 miles (40 km), but expect less in the real world (think 17ish miles/27 kms) from the 7.6 kWh battery.

According to the review, the 65 kW electric motor does the job in all-electric eDrive mode and is seamlessly combined with the internal combustion engine through eight-speed automatic transmission. Via Autocar:

“There is a nice flexible feel to the delivery in electric mode, while the combustion engine and electric motor combine seamlessly to propel the new saloon with real verve on the open road. To really make the most of its potential efficiency, though, you need to get accustomed to the three different driving modes – eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery – and be prepared to continually switch between them.

Alternatively, you can leave the 330e to its own devices – but don’t expect to get anywhere near the official economy claims. In real-world driving, the reality is something in the region of 55mpg, or roughly what you’d expect from the 254bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel-powered 330d saloon.”

“In hybrid running, the 330e is reasonably swift, displaying reasonably sharp throttle response, thanks, in part, to the abundant torque. With the electric motor assisting the petrol unit, it delivers solid low-end urge and impressive mid-range shove on kickdown. BMW claims 0-62mph in 6.1sec, which is just 0.3sec shy of BMW’s official time for the 1545kg 330i saloon in automatic guise.

It is at typical motorway speeds, with the relatively tall gearing of the gearbox suppressing the revs of the petrol engine, where the new BMW does its best work, proving to be exceptionally refined.”

Total system power peaks at 185 kW/252 hp (on par with 330i and 330d). Here are a few photos of the drivetrain:

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

Quick specs:

  • 184 hp four-cylinder petrol engine and 65 kW, 88 hp, 250 Nm electric motor integrated into the housing of the eight-speed automatic
  • total system output of 185 kW/252 hp (on par with 330i and 330d)
  • 0–60 mph in 6.1 seconds with a top speed of 140 mph.
  • all-electric range of up to 40 km (25 miles) probably NEDC (we estimate 17-19 miles of real-world driving/US EPA estimate)
  • 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery beneath the boot floor
  • charging in 3 hours and 15 minutes from a household outlet
  • average fuel consumption (combined) of 2.1–1.9 litres/100 km (134.5–148.7 mpg imp)
  • at least 370 liters of luggage compartment volume; the rear seat offer a 40:20 40 split
  • EU-empty weight of 1735 kg (3,825 lbs)
BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

source: Autocar

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46 responses to "BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid Test Drive Review"

  1. Will says:

    What a wonderfully boring car. Such uninspired and safe looks. So typically unassuming.

  2. MTN Ranger says:

    At least it has a real trunk, much better than most of the 20 mile PHEVs out right now.

    1. Nix says:

      It even has folding seats! Tired of seeing PHEV sedans with no folding rear seats.

    2. Scramjett says:

      Yes, I noticed that too. A rarity among plug-in hybrid sedans to be sure!

      Wonder what the measured capacity is?

      1. Scramjett says:

        Whoops, just saw the 370 liter rating above! That translates to ~13 cu ft.

    3. Braben says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Much more practical than something like the Ford Fusion Energi, and quite a bit faster too.

  3. Speculawyer says:

    Now even if Tesla badly misses its target and the Model 3 ends up being priced in the low $40K range, the Model 3 may still be much more appealing than this car. Why buy a $40K BMW oil burner with only 16 miles of electric range when you can get a Tesla Model 3 for the same price?

  4. Scramjett says:

    Love the dashboard. Finally, a proper tachometer!

    1. Priusmaniac says:

      Lol.
      A perfect copy past from the seventies.

  5. PJ says:

    When does this hit the U.S. Market?

  6. Benjamin says:

    Eh? My Audi A3 e-tron specs are better than this with an 80kW electric motor and an 8.8kWh battery. Autocar did not like the A3 e-tron but it likes this PHEV 3 series?

    1. WARREN says:

      Is the A3 a smaller class car than the 3 series? I thought the A4 was closer in size.
      What is the 0-60 time of the A3 e-tron?

      1. liberty says:

        7.6 seconds according to inside ev. IMHO that bmw if it comes in with the good mpg in charge deplete range, with a 6.1 to 60 is the one to get. The audi is too close to the volt, if you are upgrading from there why not the beemer. This is just a guess, a test drive and more information is needed. I’d try to lease either one. In 3 years the tesla model 3 should be out, and may be much better. Yes I know they are saying less than 2 but, I’m not counting on that.

      2. Benjamin says:

        Yep, according to Audi, 0 to 60 with power from both electric and gas is 7.6. In EV-mode I believe it’s around the 10 second range. I think this BMW 3 PHEV will be much slower than that in e-drive mode given it’s only got 65kW electric motor.

        The nice thing about the e-tron is that it has enough power for freeway driving in just EV-mode. The bad thing is, you are hampered by the small battery. Lately, with the warm Los Angeles weather, I am getting between 20-22 miles in EV-mode before it goes in Hold/Hybrid-mode.

  7. Epicurus says:

    Who is going to pay $43,000 for a 17 mile AER hybrid in today’s market?

    I don’t get it. What is BMW management thinking?

    1. Speculawyer says:

      They know that the BMW fans will pay whatever for that BMW logo.

    2. Braben says:

      – People who don’t care much about AER
      – People who want a BMW with good fuel efficiency but don’t like Diesel engines
      – People who like to be able to make trips out of town without meticulously planning every route and constantly having to look out for the next charger location
      – People who don’t want to take hour-long charging breaks every 180 miles

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this became the most popular drive train option in the next 10 years.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        You mean 25 minute charges, for 125 miles. Not bad, for those >350 mile road trips. I don’t have any 475+ mile trips planned, where i would need to stop “every” 125 miles, or after two hours driving. When you’ve done this across the country, you’ll know.

        1. Braben says:

          I bet you don’t have any real experience making road trips in an EV.

          One trip we frequently take in summer is driving up the beautiful NorCal/Oregon cost on the 101. Every time you want to get to a supercharger from the coastal highway, you’d have to drive 60-80 miles inland and back. More than annoying.

          I also drive from the SF Bay Area to LA several times a year (about 360 miles each way). I usually take at most one 10 minute break. With a 200 mile EV I’d have to make at least one long charging stop (and then quickly find a destination charger somewhere in LA before the battery runs out again).

          1. pjwood1 says:

            I’ve done the I-70 cross-country route. I see a 268 mile gap, from your Ukiah, CA supercharger, to a Brookings, OR, CHAdeMO (plugshare.com). Generally, if you are doing off-interstate, scenic excursions of close to 300 miles, you will run into charging challenges.

            I knew my drives, before I decided on a long range BEV. Not that DCFC won’t increase along 101, but with that tolerance for slower roads, for THAT many miles, I think you may have expected too much.

      2. Epicurus says:

        “People who like to be able to make trips out of town without meticulously planning every route and constantly having to look out for the next charger location”

        I am all for plug-in hybrids, but I would think the vaunted “German engineering” could at least keep up with GM on the AER.

        1. Trace says:

          Oh they can. But the BMW would lumber through a cloverleaf and slip with a heavier, 18KW battery, like a typical Chevy that can’t corner worth a crap… which is why most Chevys can’t take a cloverleaf at 20mph above the posted speed, like a BMW can.

          It may be a plug in hybrid like a Volt just with less AER, but it has a BMW logo on it. It has to drive like a real BMW.

    3. wavelet says:

      You shouldn’t be thinking of this as a real EV. This is the quintessential “European compliance” car. It’s required for the EU to comply with 2017 and later fleet emission standards. Unfortunately, the low emissions are only required for a short test circuit, which can be handled by a small battery.

      Pretty much all midsize cars in Europe will need to be at least plugin hybrids to comply within a few years.
      Unfortunately, the resulting AER isn’t enough for roundtrip commutes, so a relatively low % of miles on these cars will be electric (for short commutes, most Europeans use bicycles or mass trtansit anyway). Hopefully, the carmakers will upgrade the batteries once costs are low enough to get Volt-range AER.

      1. Braben says:

        I think comparisons with what is called “compliance car” in the US are misplaced. BMW and other car makers do not build these cars to sell them in small quantities in some selected markets. They need to sell a significant number of them in a few years to bring down fleet consumption and meet the regulatory goals. They have to build cars that have a chance to gain mainstream acceptance soon (which will not be the case for pure BEVs for years to come).

        1. wavelet says:

          Absolutely, which is why I called them “European compliance” cars, and used quotes.

          I was _not_ comparing them with the US meaning (a small number of cars that need to comply with California’s (and now several other states’) ZEV mandates).
          I don’t live in the US and the US isn’t my frame of reference.

          1. wavelet says:

            And unfortunately, I believe the point still stands… Those EU regulations means that most midsize and many compact cars in Europe will have dinky batteries and small AER, rather than be Volt-like or full BEVs; as a result, real overall mileage on gasoline will not shrink significantly.

    4. Mr. m says:

      the same people that even buy a car for $40k+ without any electric motor.

      It is a equalliy priced BMW compared to other BMW with similar specs.

  8. Fvo says:

    Sorry Braben,but i think just the opposite. The model 3 and Chevy Bolt will make these cars obsolete. What a hasle to combine those 2 drivetrains.
    Our previous car was a Bmw 3-serie, but after the purchase of our 2013 Tesla and 2014 electric B-class not one of us both would ever make the swich back to the fossil-era.

    Ps: charging with the Tesla on roadtrips usually is just long enough to eat something or take a leak. Especcialy with children in the back…

    1. Speculawyer says:

      Yeah, that is what I said as well. This car would have been great 3 years ago. But now the early movers are moving on to their next generations with the Model 3 and Bolt. Those cars make this underbatteried PHEV obsolete.

      This is a compliance car for the EU.

      1. Just_chris says:

        This car is not for the early movers, it is for the mass market. Come 2021 BMW will have to sell one of these for every regular 3 series to comply with EU regs. If it was a bev it would have to sell 1 for every 2 regular 3 series. Same goes for almost every model they make. The car that this makes obsolete is the regular petrol 3 series and perhaps the diesel 3 series. People will still buy m3’s but with corporate tax laws, emission standards and ultra low emission zones the regular 3 series becomes more expensive to buy, less practical and more expensive to run than this car in the eu. People want different things in a car I wouldn’t want one of these but then I’m not an estate agent with an inferiority complex.

  9. Adam says:

    What is that massive weight hanging over the back axle?

    1. Elroy says:

      At least they kept it lower than the trunk floor. Would love to know the battery weight and F/R weight distribution.

  10. Labradorofperception says:

    Over here in the UK, it’s a very compelling package. The gov grant of £5k (soon to be £2.5K) happrens the price. But, it is the taxation that sells.

    A 330d attracts £300 a month in company car tax, the 330e only around £55.

    You guys seem to be way ahead of us in the pure EV market so I can’t see it selling much over the pond.

    1. James says:

      Will you still get the full 250BHP if you never bother charging it?

      I am guessing the petrol engine keeps the electric motor topped up.

  11. James says:

    These cars are gas sedans with an electric feature.

    Europe has expanding no-emissions zones in small towns and large cities. It’s a trend that isn’t going away. These cars are designed to drive 90% of the time as a regular gas version, only to “hold” the electric-ability of the small battery pack and motor for those in-town or through-town portions where emissions are either taxed or not allowed at all.

    German car fans don’t see what these cars truly are. It’s another form of “compliance car”. Only the compliance is to different laws than we have here in N.America.

    If this is a second car, and you only plan to drive it into town for groceries, get the mail or pick up the kids…Maybe you can use it 90% of the time in EV-mode. But we know that isn’t the case, and if it is – Why not just buy an 80 mile BEV for that duty?!

    I’ve been looking at the S500 PHEV Mercedes lately. Like this BMW, it’s RWD which is a benefit for handling refinement and the small battery packs are in identical positions. The independent rear suspension is a plus. But I don’t want to use much if any gasoline or diesel. I prefer what Cadillac is doing with the CT-6 PHEV. It’s faster and goes 37 miles EV if you keep your foot off the gas.

    Right now, with cheap gas, some will surely justify expensive, complex cars like this that don’t return much EV-driving for the dual-nature of the vehicle and some form of false eco-consciousness they feel they deserve for technically having a “hybrid”. But we see the tiny battery and know it’s a gas car that can go a few miles electric. And that’s it.

  12. DavidCary says:

    Who will buy? Well Europeans for one.

    The cities want fossil fuels gone from the city center quite badly. Whether it is “congestion” tax breaks or not being allowed in the city center unless you are on electricity, these teen range PHEVs are the way to go.

    Not to mention $6 gas prices.

    Remember – BMW is a European brand. The market there is just a little smaller than ours. Now I don’t know what China is doing but we know they are strongly committed to EVs as a way of cleaning their inner city air.

    EVs are good for lots of reason. Helping with city air quality is one of them and a teen range PHEVs works to do that pretty well. Fire up the fossil fuels when you hit the suburbs…

    If they were making for our market, surely they would find a way to get 16 kwh in there and get maximum tax break. Maybe the calculus is the next gens will have that and then they can use up their 200k. The lifecycle of a platform is pretty long and they probably don’t have the large battery platforms ready. They probably really starting working on them 1 year or two ago when Tesla starting being successful.

    1. Speculawyer says:

      But what if they can buy a 200+ mile range Tesla Model 3 for a lower price?

      Or a 270 mile range Tesla Model 3 for the same price. Which one would you get?

      1. Braben says:

        This question seems rather pointless to me. Nobody outside Tesla has even seen the Model 3 and it probably won’t be widely available for another 3 years or so (while this 330e is on sale today in Europe).

        BTW, I bet the Model 3 will be nowhere near the BMW in terms of handling, build quality, and interior.

  13. ct200h says:

    what is the federal tax credit on the 330e?

    1. Mr. m says:

      incentive per kWh times kWh of the 330e. 😉

      Always glad to help.

  14. pjwood1 says:

    Yes, a reasonably glowing review, I’d say.

    Who could possibly want more than 17-18 miles, at the price point? They Could have at least welded the doors shut, and given it 40 miles.

  15. John Redford says:

    I drive a BMW 328d diesel, and its problem is that non-highway mpg is terrible. Using electric around town would fix that. Mileage is also 20% worse in winter, but that’ll probably be true here too. There is a charger at my workplace, so ~20 miles would keep me electric on the commute too. I’ve looked at the Volt, but you just can’t put 3 kids in the back seat. The main downside of the 330e is that doesn’t come in a wagon variant.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      Careful what you can expect from the 65kw motor, attached to a battery as small as 7.8kwh.

      For reference, Tesla attached 510kw of dual-motor rating to 85kwh, and that battery was too small to achieve to achieve the spec ratings of the motors (691hp).

      If this problem can happen to a Tesla, think of the electric-only power limits the 330e could have. Engine-assist on-ramps, etc. Test before you buy.

  16. Benjamin says:

    Autocar forgot to mention this:

    “In full electric mode it will travel up to 62mph before any internal combusting is required, and offer almost silent running, plus a smooth and strong response off the line. ” – Telegraph U.K.

  17. PHEVfan says:

    Note to Ford: that is what the trunk of a PHEV should look like. Please upgrade accordingly.