In-depth reviews

BMW 330e hybrid review

The latest BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid is a very accomplished all-rounder, combining driving enjoyment with ultra-low running costs

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Great to drive
  • Superb interior
  • Low running costs

Cons

  • Reduced boot space
  • Engine noisy when pushed
  • Diesel better for high mileage
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 35-37 miles202mpg 31-32g/km 

This is the second generation of the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid saloon. The first-generation model – produced between 2015 and 2018 – could manage 25 miles of driving in pure electric mode at speeds up to 50mph. The latest model ups those numbers to 37 miles and 68mph, while the petrol-plus-electric power output remains 249bhp. However a new 'XtraBoost' function can temporarily increase that to 288bhp.

Like any 3 Series, the 330e is engaging and enjoyable to drive, offering smooth and quiet motorway progress as well as an agile and involving experience on a twisty back road. It's usefully more entertaining than an Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid, for instance, and has a bit more zing even than the plug-in hybrid variants of the Volvo S60 or Mercedes C-Class.

There's also no significant price premium to be paid compared to the equivalent 330i petrol or 320d diesel models, so for private buyers, the decision can come down to which one suits the type of journeys you do best. For company-car users, the deck is stacked decisively in favour of the 330e, with Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax charged at just 10%, compared to 28% for the 320d diesel, in the 2020/21 financial year.

Under the bonnet, the 330e packs a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine plus an electric motor powered by a 12kWh battery, with all of the 249bhp generated going to the rear wheels. Put the car into Sport mode and you have access to the 'XtraBoost' function, giving a temporary increase in power to 288bhp, which is useful for swift overtaking.

At the other end of the spectrum, you can let the car prioritise smooth and silent electric running. In our experience, you can expect some 30 miles of electric running in real-world driving, which is better than many alternatives in the executive saloon and SUV classes and could result in virtually fuel-free driving for motorists who can plug in regularly and rarely do long journeys. At any rate, the 330e will at least equal (if not better) the fuel economy of its 320d diesel sibling.

Practicality-wise, there's some sacrifice to made in boot space when you choose the 330e; its 375-litre boot is 105 litres smaller than that in the regular 3 Series saloon and is fairly shallow. BMW is offering a 330e Touring estate version this time around, which is expected to arrive in summer 2020. In all other respects, the 330e counts on all the strengths that make the 3 Series the compact executive car class leader, including a stylish, high-quality and high-tech interior with BMW's excellent iDrive infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and, soon, Android Auto connectivity.

For a more detailed look at the BMW 330e, read on for the rest of our in-depth review, or check out our twin test where we put it up against the Volvo S60 T8.

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