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 for an appealing package

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 34-37 miles166-217mpg 30-38g/km 

The BMW 330e plug-in hybrid is an excellent choice if you're looking for an executive car with low tax costs, but don't want to give up on the high-quality driving experience of a normal BMW 3 Series.

It uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine alongside its electric motor, resulting in economy of 166-217mpg (although this is to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it relies on ultra-regular recharging of the small battery). More important figures are the 288bhp output, 30-38g/km of CO2 it emits and up to a 37-mile electric driving range.

The 12kWh battery is useful for company-car drivers above all, because during the 2021/22 tax year, Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax is charged at just 11%, compared to 28% for the 320d diesel. This means big savings on tax, yet you can also save a lot of money as a private buyer if you charge up every night and use the electric motor for short trips – it's a lot cheaper than using petrol, anyway.

All BMW 3 Series models are engaging and enjoyable to drive and the 330e is no exception, especially as it also brings smooth and quiet motorway progress along with the agile and involving experience on a twisty road. It's much more entertaining than an Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid, for instance, and has a bit more zing than the plug-in hybrid variants of the Volvo S60 or Mercedes C-Class.

Most of the time, the 330e has 249bhp sent to the rear wheels only (although there is a four-wheel-drive xDrive variant as well). 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 does offer a 330e Touring estate version if you want the plug-in hybrid benefits with more boot space, however.

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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