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In-depth reviews

BMW 330e Touring hybrid review

The 3 Series saloon is already a top pick in the plug-in hybrid company-car class – is the more practical Touring estate even better?

BMW 330e Touring
Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Superb handling
  • Fast and comfortable
  • Very low running costs

Cons

  • High list price
  • Interior not cutting-edge
  • Missing some boot space
ModelElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
330e Touring35-41 miles177-202mpg32-35g/km
330e Touring xDrive33-35 miles157-177mpg36-40g/km

Plug-in hybrid power has spread through BMW's range over the past few years. In common with the larger 5 Series hybrid, the 330e plug-in is available in both four-door saloon and more practical 'Touring' estate form. There's also a choice between traditional BMW rear-drive or the brand's xDrive four-wheel-drive layout.

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For our first drive of the 330e Touring, we sampled it in range-topping M Sport Pro trim with the above-mentioned four-wheel drive, although it's also available in the full range of trims the 330e saloon is, starting with SE Pro and rising up through Sport Pro and M Sport.

There's no difference in drivetrain between the saloon and estate versions of the car: you get the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 182bhp, working with an electric motor for a maximum output of 249bhp and 420Nm of torque And just like the saloon, that can be boosted for 288bhp in short bursts of up to 10 seconds using a function called 'XtraBoost'.

With power going through all four wheels, the 330e xDrive Touring gets from 0-62mph in a reasonable 6.2 seconds. On the German Autobahn or other unrestricted location, it'll keep going to 133mph, but perhaps a more important figure is 87mph – its top speed in pure-electric mode.

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A 12kWh battery holds enough energy to take you a claimed 34 miles without using the petrol engine, and the car can be topped up from a typical home wallbox in around three-and-a-half hours, so being able to use that full electric range every day is entirely possible.

BMW gives an official fuel-economy number of a whisker under 157mpg for our test car, although that's more of a theoretical maximum than a realistic figure that can be hit consistently, especially if you drive for long distances after the battery has been depleted. As always, it's company-car users who stand to save the most by running a plug-in hybrid like this: its official CO2 output of 40g/km and that previously mentioned electric range see the 330e qualify for the 12% Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band until at least April 2024.

Another point of commonality with almost every other plug-in hybrid is that the 330e has to sacrifice some boot space to accommodate its batteries. There's 90 litres less than in a non-hybrid 3 Series Touring (410 in total), but you can still lower the back seats to free up a generous 1,420 litres when you need to.

Elsewhere, the 330e Touring strays little from the impressive and engaging driving experience of the four-door-saloon model. You enjoy the same crisp handling, well weighted steering and near-perfect balance between body control and ride comfort that has long marked out this model. Our top-spec M Sport Pro test car did have adaptive suspension as standard, though; it's an option on the regular M Sport trim level.

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Around town, the 330e behaves just like a pure-electric car at low speeds, cruising around silently but for the humming pedestrian-warning noise. Leave it in hybrid mode and you'll barely notice the transition from electric to petrol power, something aided by a super-smooth automatic gearbox. Sport mode is livelier, but does cause the engine to work a bit harder: this is the only time you'll miss the smoother tone of BMW's six-cylinder engines.

Overall, then, there are very few holes to pick in the 330e Touring's case. It works perfectly as a short-range electric commuter car around town, cruises comfortably on the motorway and comes alive when you hit an interesting bit of road – all while easily carrying a family of four and their luggage. Yes, the list price looks quite high, but strong residual values work wonders for monthly finance payment, while that ultra-low BiK banding we mentioned makes this car something of a no-brainer for the company-car set.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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