It’s quite interesting that one of the first variants to emerge from BMW following the reveal of the all-new G20-generation 3 Series is their 330e plug-in hybrid, one that found considerable popularity during the height of its preceding model.
The jump to an all-new platform has certainly aided packaging efficiency and weight distribution for Munich’s newest partly-electric premium saloon, but the core recipe seems to have changed little. At the front is a B48 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that’s seemingly identical to the outgoing car, outputting 135kW and a presumed 350Nm.
It’s mated to an 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and an accompanying electric motor, but this time has been made gutsier, delivering 50kW instantaneously upon request for a total system output of 185kW and 420Nm should the batteries and motor be primed to do so. BMW claim that the hybrid driveline only adds 15mm over a conventional 3 Series and that it is 10 percent more fuel efficient than the previous model.
Those numbers are squarely within the neighbourhood of not only the previous 330e but also competing plug-in hybrid premium executive cars, granted, but the new car’s reduced weight and improved calibrations mean that the 0-100km/h sprint is dealt with in just 6 seconds while capable a top speed of 230km/h.
Though, it’s within the confines of normal driving where the all-new 330e’s strides come into view. While in Hybrid mode, its new high voltage 12kWh lithium ion battery is able to deliver 60km of range without invoking the combustion engine and archive a maximum speed of 110km/h, a 30km/h improvement over the model it replaces. However, when in the Electric mode, this zero emissions top speed is increased to 140km/h.
Because PHEVs like the 330e are favoured for their accelerative advantages just as much as they are for their fuel efficiency gains, BMW has added a feature called XtraBoost into the mix, one that extracts the maximum level of performance from its various systems.
It’s only accessible through Sport mode and, once engaged, instructs the electric motor to temporarily deliver 30kW more power and best of all it can be used up to the minimum degree of battery charge, meaning the driver will likely have access to additional oomph in 95 percent of driving situations.
Still being rear-wheel drive vehicle does mean that the new 330e does have the same quirks as the older version and is not as neatly laid out as, say, the front-drive PHEV alternatives such as the Volvo S60 or Peugeot 508. This does mean that both the fuel tank and lithium ion battery are situated at the rear, possibly impeding boot space. That said, the car still features a rather commodious 375-litres of cargo capacity.