Car And Driver Tests The BMW 330e, Is It Worth The Extra Money?

JUL 20 2016 BY MARK KANE 29

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

BMW 330e, Exhibit Drive train

Car and Driver recently tested the BMW 330e, calling it a sports sedan for the modern age.

According to the review, the 330e aspires to be environmentally friendly, but unlike the Toyota Prius, it doesn’t sacrifice performance.

The 330e offers quick acceleration, 0-60 mph arrive in just 5.8 seconds, and the BMW does the quarter-mile in just 14.3 seconds, besting the regular 2.0-liter model.

As for that 2.0 four-cylinder petrol engine and e-drivetrain found in the 330e, it kicks-in smoothly, but adds about 644 pounds (292 kg), extending the braking distance a little bit longer over the petrol version.

“The 330e’s 171-foot stop from 70 mph was longer than the 320i’s braking distance by eight feet. Roadholding on our skidpad was even closer: 0.86 g for the 330e, versus 0.87 for the lighter 320i. Both BMWs were equipped with the same Bridgestone Potenza run-flat tires.

A blast down our favorite back road revealed the 3-series verve we’ve grown accustomed to: not much steering feedback but excellent overall poise, suspension control over bumps and body motion, and a lust for the 7000-rpm redline. During deceleration, there’s no annoying change in pedal feel as regeneration is supplemented by friction braking. Noise measurements were a near match except for the hybrid’s 30-decibel murmur at idle versus the combustion car’s 43 decibels. Silence, don’t you know, is golden.”

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

Tiny 7.6 kWh battery improves the fuel economy by about 8 mpg according to the review, but whether it’s worth to pay $44,695 ($10,550 above 320i automatic) isn’t clear to Car and Driver:

“Gas mileage is the clincher. Tallying dollars of fuel and ignoring pennies of electricity, we averaged 30 mpg, within spitting distance of the EPA’s 31-mpg gas-only combined rating. Factoring in the electricity we drew from a 120-volt plug, the net efficiency still averaged 29 MPGe. That’s 8 mpg better than the mileage we observed with the 320i. Diligent reliance on the electric mode by a driver who rarely ventured beyond urban settings holds the promise of even better efficiency, but without the driving rewards that come with 3-series ownership.

Given the $10,550 base-price difference between a 320i automatic and the 330e plug-in hybrid, decades could pass before an 8-mpg advantage saves enough cents to make economic sense. That said, why not take the high road to environmental responsibility in a car that’s enjoyable to drive?”

We should note something that Car & Driver did not.  Specifically that the 330e qualifies for a$4,001 credit (yes, you get that extra buck) as part of America’s federal incentive program, which makes the actual gap $6,549 – still pretty wide, but more manageable.

Inside a lease, the effect of the $4,001 acting as a “cap reduction” makes the federal incentive worth about $6,000 off of the payment math, as compared to the base petrol version – basically, the 330e will set you back about $95/month more (on a 48 month lease) in the end.

Quick 330e 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) NEDC and 14 miles (22.5 km) US EPA
  • 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)

source: Car and Driver

Categories: BMW, Test Drives


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29 Comments on "Car And Driver Tests The BMW 330e, Is It Worth The Extra Money?"

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It’s a good start. There will be those that complain that it’s not enough…but it’s a good start.

The batteries and electric motors WILL get bigger, and the gas motor WILL get smaller.

It’s the natural evolution of things.

But for any of this to catch on, the cars have to be good. The rest will come later.

I’d take mine in black.

It’s a start but it’s not a good start. BMW is clearly behind here and it’s surprising they release this overpriced junk when they’ve done good work with the i3’s and the i8.

It is a start, but yes 30 miles of range would be better, to take into account winter.

If you buy a BMW and keep it, it’s worth it. Especially if most of your driving is local city or suburban driving. This is a good car to buy while you wait for the Tesla 3.

14 miles of EPA range could be 75% on electric for a daily 20 mile commute, which would give you much bigger fuel savings then 29 mpg.

Seriously. I get that auto journalists will want to go for longer, spirited drives to check the car out, but they need to acknowledge that their drive cycle is nothing like what most people will do with the car on a daily basis, especially if they’re going to use their drive cycle for the basis of a total cost of ownership comparison! Also, any auto journalist that intends to test out plug-in vehicles should have a level 2 charging station at home to get the full experience. Maybe charging speed wouldn’t be that much of an issue for a car like this with a relatively small battery, but even just the inconvenience of having to pull the portable cordset out of the trunk every time i get home would turn me off.

Exactly. You’d think C&D is a subsidiary of Exxon, with this type of reporting.

Completely agree. As a commuter, I bet the fuel economy is in Prius territory, with a lot more fun.

mx9000 — while I agree with your post, it also shows that this car is much more suited for the EU market than the US market. Drivers in the EU market typically drive much fewer miles in a year than US drivers.

This is clearly a PHEV optimized for shutting off the gas engine and driving in European city centers where gas engines are banned or have to pay a fee.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Just bad for many potential US buyers. (U.S. DOE) says 72MPGe. Not 29MPGe.

Longer range tests are not your friend with smaller batteries I suppose, (=

Yes, for 14 miles…It will therefore be a small minority of owners for whom 72MPGe is the relevant number.

You have that backwards.
For 80% of drivers, 20 miles is their driving range.

They should not compare this to the 320i sedan, but to the the 328i sedan. That car has a similar 0-60 time of 5.8 seconds and starts at $38,350 compared to $43,700 for the 330e. After subtracting the $4001 tax credit, the 330e only costs $1349 more and provides much better gas mileage and a great EV powertrain for part of your commute.


Standard irritating play by the car reporter, ev’s always come higher spec than the base ICE. I surprised they didn’t compare the price to the base 1 series. I suspect The 330e is mid to high end as 3 series go.


BMW called it a 330 for good reason. Using the 320 for an ICE price comparison is not valid.


I hope BMW builds inventory for this, cause they are going to sell a ton of them.

It is the perfect sell for people sucked into the dealership by the i8 rotating on the platform.

get the benz c-class, it’s a better car. then you won’t have to worry about driving around in a 3-series bm and thinking to yourself: “i should have gotten a benz”.

I find their results hard to believe. 8 MPG difference, even when running on EV power? I would imagine a lot of that has to do with their driving behavior. Did they charge it up just one time on a really long trip? I would imagine anyone who drove one of these every day on an average commute like 30 miles round-trip would see fuel economy figures in the 60’s or 70’s at least.

I’m not sure the 320 is the correct trim level to compare with. It sounds like the 328 is the car that the 330 is most similar to.

I’m not a big fan of the current 330e, but it seems that if Car and Driver is going to go to the bother of writing a story, they should at least start with the right trim level to compare it to.

Good catch. Funny, they never compare apples to apples. Supporting the theory there’s oil money involved.

Because across the board, this mistake is made over and over and over…

Well, if it had the 328i gas engine (which it should have been equipped with), it would make 60 more horsepower. 240 vs 180, and this car would be seriously quick. It’s the same basic 2.0l engine and would cost them almost nothing. Same HP that the X540e already has. Too bad. This would be a perfect opportunity to own a hybrid car that has better performance than the gas car it replaces. But a 335i probably runs about $5000 more, and they don’t want this to encroach on those sales numbers.

In the US, the bulk of 3-Series sales are actually 328 sales. So they are targeting the correct market where they can make the most sales.

I have had a 330e for 4 months and have put almost 4000 miles on it. Fuel economy overall to date is over 65 mpg. It is an awesome car and could only be improved with a bit more battery range. I have made numerous 200 to 400 mile trips and still am getting 65 overall because of my 8 mile commute each way to and from work. Much better than the ActiveHybrid 3 I previously leased and unbelievably better than the 3 Prius models I have owned. Car and Driver really didn’t use the car as it would normally be used and I think my experience is more like what others could expect.

for the kind of money that you have to spend for a 330e bmw, you could have bought a benz c350 and gotten the illuminated star option:

as a correction, i should have stated “benz c350e” because the c350 is a plug in hybrid.

Thanks Dennis for sharing your real world experience.

Enjoy your 330e!


“It is an awesome car and could only be improved with a bit more battery range.”

I think that pretty much sums up the consensus on this vehicle. It is awesome and all, but battery improvement would go a long ways to help the car for many buyers in the US market.

Can someone help me out here? The J1772 standard is good for a max of 19.2 kW, but I haven’t heard of a single 19.2 kW station; they all seem to be 6.6 or 7.2 kW….is it really that hard to upgrade to 80 amps/240v? Is this a chicken-and-egg situation? The only EV/PHEV that has a 10 or 20 kW on-board rectifier is the Model S, so it’s the only one that could take advantage of faster public Level 1 A/C charging. The reason I’m asking is that this BMW has the exact same battery size AND useable capacity as my Fusion Energi….5.7 out of 7.6 kWh. If all of these public J1772 stations were at 19.2 kW, it would take just 20 minutes to get to 80% charge in these cars; seems to me that this would greatly enhance the value proposition. Based on my experience (30,000 miles driven so far on just 56 gallons of gasoline), I think faster charging is worth as much or more than longer EV range (of course it depends on one’s driving pattern). PHEVs could come with an 19.2 kW rectifier as an option; it could also make a good option for a… Read more »