Plug-In Hybrid Showdown: BMW 330e, Audi A3 e-tron, VW Passat GTE And Volvo V60 D5

FEB 1 2017 BY MARK KANE 15

Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine

Autocar recently pitted four plug-in hybrid executive cars, priced between £34,000 and £39,000 ($42,450 to $48,700), against each other to determine the best buy:

  • BMW 330e
  • Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
  • Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate
  • Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine

Volkswagen Passat GTE Variant

We note that the size and type of these cars (a five-door hatchback, a four-door saloon and two mid-sized estate cars) does not necessarily make them direct competitors in the market place, but limited the range to PHEVs and a particular price-point does.

The two-day test was conducted in urban areas and on the motorway, testing both fuel economy and performances “30-mile test – the first 15 miles of which were driven on the urban roads of greater west London“.

Here is what we noted from Autocar’s comparison:

BMW 330e

  • simpler drivetrain
  • smallest drive battery of the four, but most powerful combustion engine
  • suffers from a bit of a delayed of initial throttle response while operating as an EV, but best driving experience overall
  • fuel economy: 80.4mpg / 44.6 mpg with depleted battery
  • 7.6 kWh battery and  13 miles of all-electric range

2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

  • smallest, lowest CO2 emissions and kerb weight
  • compact five-door hatchback but priced like the bigger offerings
  • all-electric mode less capable than VW Passat, not as “cleverly instrumented and controlled”, good handling
  • fuel economy: 86.5mpg / 47.9 mpg with depleted battery
  • 8.8 kWh battery and 14 miles of all-electric range

Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate

  • newest
  • most powerful electric motor of the group
  • biggest cargo area, making it the most useful car of the group
  • easiest control over the electric motor and battery regen
  • nice all-electric mode (nearly like in Volvo), good handling
  • fuel economy: 81.7mpg / 42.2 mpg with depleted battery
  • 9.9 kWh battery and 17 miles of all-electric range

Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine

  • equipped with a 5 cyldiesel, and also a self-contained electric rear axle which interfers a bit with the carpgo capacity
  • operates the most like an EV while operating on electricity thanks to the largest battery and independent transmission/direct drive for the electric motor, great/linear response to 50 mph
  • exact opposite to EV mode while operating from diesel engine – “noisy, rough and antiquated”
  • V60 feels old
  • fuel economy: 153.8mpg (nearly twice higher than the rest) / 50.1 mpg with depleted battery
  • 11.2 kWh battery and 23 miles of all-electric range

BMW 330e

Interestingly, the Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine, which is the oldest plug-in hybrid in the group, with a diesel engine, also turns to be the most efficient.

The Volkswagen Passat GTE Estate and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron are properly designed PHEVs, but taking into account the value of a compelling driving experience, Autocar says there is no better choice out there at the price than the BMW 330e.

“BMW is also the cheapest car here, possesses easily the strongest performance, has a powertrain that knows very good cruising manners and commendable usability and has proved itself competitive with most of its rivals on real-world economy.

Most convincing of all, the 330e feels like it might genuinely be the best 3 Series on the market, and not just for a particular type of buyer – and it has even stiffer competition for that honour, you’d have to say, than it had for this test win.”

source: Autocar

Categories: Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo

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15 Comments on "Plug-In Hybrid Showdown: BMW 330e, Audi A3 e-tron, VW Passat GTE And Volvo V60 D5"

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The next gen 330e will be all Electric in about 1 year.

Huge YAWN until then.

1 year would be amazing.

BMW says 2020/2021.

We bet on 2018/2019.


‘in about 1 year’
That will be 1 jupiter year!

Mars I think/hope.

The Twin Engine isn’t the most efficient when running on liquid fuel. Diesel contains more energy than gasoline so it ends up at best 3rd in the efficiency comparison there.

As to the plug-in test, it has the largest battery and the test is 30 miles long, it’s really that simple. It uses the most electricity on the test and so it uses the least liquid fuel.

From Wiki – “However, due to the higher density, diesel offers a higher volumetric energy density at 35.86 MJ/L (128,700 BTU/US gal) vs. 32.18 MJ/L (115,500 BTU/US gal) for gasoline, some 11% higher, which should be considered when comparing the fuel efficiency by volume.”

The 11% increase in volumetric energy density does not overcome the 200% increase in liquid fuel efficiency of the V60.

Diesel are dirty with particulate matter and NOx, so they’re still a terrible idea.

What 200% increase? As I explained that figure when using electricity is not due to liquid fuel efficiency. It’s because I that test the vehicle is running off electrify not liquid fuel.

Are the Volvo or VW coming to the US?

Also why is the range of so many European PHEVs right around 15-18 miles +/-? Is there some regulation that encourages this?

Ya, I would be very interested in the Volvo with some updated tech 🙂

The A3 is just too small for my needs.

What is ridiculous is the fact that the other cars cost as much as the BMW, or is that a misprint?

Why? They are fairly comparable cars from premium brands (well, not Volkswagen, but the GTx has always been their more expensive performance version)

Love my 330e, moved back to my college town to finish my Master’s degree and haven’t used gas once since I got off the highway. My school has available, preferred charging spots in the garages and I can charge in the carport below my townhouse.
Even with the semesterly 400 mile trip home-which requires no stopping for fuel or charging-I am averaging over a 100mpg. The instant electric torque makes it quicker off the line than the ICE versions and makes it perfect for the under 40 mph driving I do 90% of the time.

Yup the 5.9 sec 0-60 mph time is pretty darn quick. Can you imagine if they used the regular version of the 2.0L engine that puts out 60 more HP?? From what I hear, it’s easy to buy a tuner box for this engine to get back that 60hp. Perhaps BMW didn’t want to cannabalize sales of their 340i.

The 330e has the same B48 engine as is in the regular 330i and even has a better cooling system, but appears to be detuned to the power output of the 320i for efficiency. There are already a couple tuners with options available to increase power output very near 340i territory.
I suspect that offering the 330e right now with more power would be problematic for BMW as the 340i would average about 20mpg, where as the 330e is capable of 80mpg+ and similar performance, at a lower price point.

I don’t see how hybrid would be a bad idea for auto makers. Two drive systems should equate to twice the service requirements. By all accounts, this is the reason why EV’s are not promoted, because they take away from service Jobs. So if that is really true, then hybrid should be a dealers dream come true.

But hybrid are not push that hard either, so maybe the real reason is just that dealers don’t understand it or maybe not prepared to add the electric specialisations into their service departments.