Ask Us About BMW’s 330e iPerformance Plug-in-Hybrid

The BMW 330e might be the immediate future.

Take an immensely popular package and make it a plug-in hybrid and you might have the official car of well-to-do environmental lawyers. But does it work? How does a hefty pack of batteries affect the 3-series’ legendary dynamics?

We’ve been testing a BMW 330e iPerformance (technically a 2016 330e that does without the iPerformance moniker, but it’s pretty much identical to a ‘17). Here are some initial thoughts.

The little giveaways
It’s pretty blink-and-miss it, but certain eDrive decals on the trunk lid and rear quarter panels, as well as the door to the charging port, are the only hints this isn’t your average 3-series. I thought most people would ignore it until someone literally ran up to me to ask me what I thought of the car.

And the fact you can drive around in near silence makes people stare and think there’s something wrong with your BMW.

Looks that don’t grow stale
The 2016 nip-tuck to the 3-series face has prolonged what is a handsome car, even without the popular M Sport additions. A silver 3-series is pretty timeless, right?

Please, weight
While its combined output of 248 horsepower sounds lively enough, it’s the same as the gas-only 330i – and that car isn’t saddled with 3,915 pounds to cart around. Launches are brisk in electric mode, but there’s a certain zest absent here. At least the added weight makes the ride supple.

Behind door number one #BMW #EV #electriccars

A photo posted by Zac Estrada (@zacestrada) on Dec 2, 2016 at 5:34pm PST


eDrive, you drive
In addition to the typical BMW driving mode selectors, there’s an easy eDrive button behind the gear selector to switch between hybrid and electric-only modes. And that’s really how you alter the personality of the 330e. It’s decently zippy as an EV, but the hybrid mode exposes some discord in the gas-electric transition. And in the save electricity gas-only mode, it feels like a boat anchor is pulling the whole thing down.

Cost to benefit
I’ve averaged about 30 mpg in combined driving and close to 35 on a decent highway jaunt. The concept of about 450 miles to a 10.8 gallon tank seems reasonable. But 20 miles of range seems stingy and it really does take all night charge the 330e up from flat on a household outlet. Spending about $3.50 on a public Level 2 charger plus parking costs seems to negate the gas station savings. I’m struggling to see who would benefit from the 330e’s plug-in abilities most, especially when a gas-only 330 is good for 27 mpg (and the 328d at 36), combined according to the EPA.

Oh and then there’s the price of the car. It’s roughly $45,000 before you dive into the trove of BMW extras. This well-equipped example has a generous helping of options, but comes in just below the $60,000 mark. This is before a federal tax credit of $4,001, which is less than what the Audi A3 e-tron qualifies for.

For now, what questions do you have about the 330e? Sound off in the comments.

Photos: Zac Estrada/Carscoops

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  • Bo Hanan

    248HP carting 3900lbs? Big girl.

  • kello3000

    Had the car since may. Here are some facts and impressions:
    – Odometer now says 7600km, of which 4000km on pure electricity…
    – …which results in a consumption of 3.5l/100km or 67.2MPG (for me the electric range covers in average 90% of my normal daily commutes, and I plug in every night)
    – Seems like cold weather (partly heating?) slices of about 25% – 35% of the range
    – Electric instatorque simpy is more comfortable than gas in the city. Add the silent drive and you have a really, really relaxing car. Whats more, thanks to the torque i suspect the 330e could well keep up with the 340i in accelerations to city speed limits (< 45km/h).
    – In sport mode the car is brisk but not aggressive
    – Compared to my previous F30 320i you feel more weight in the corners, but the improved suspension in the LCI makes for an overall better ride
    – Charging on a normal 220V home socket takes about 3-5.5 hours depending on settings. Cost of full charge (20-30km range) is about 1€
    – Where I live the car is about 7500€ cheaper than the 330i. Add in the lower running costs and, at least for me, the choice is a no brainer

    • Deckard_Cain

      How much space did it take of the boot to include the batteries?

      • kello3000

        The boot floor is 30mm higher and capacity is reduced from 480 to 370 liters compared to a normal 3-series.

        Not a deal breaker, however you do notice it.

    • May I ask what country you are in and what the tax benefits were (if any)?

      • kello3000

        Finland.

        Cars here are taxed based on consumption, and as the 330e is rated 1.9l/100km the tax is really low compared to the 330i (5.9l/100km).

        These cars are not directly comparable as the 330i is only sold as xDrive here but for reference the 330e costs just under 47.000€ with a 3400€ tax vs. over 55.000€/12.000€ for the 330i.

        There is a small yearly EV tax but it is something like 40-60€ for the 330e IIRC.

  • The BMW i8 hooks a *smaller* battery up to a front motor delivering 129 hp, and delivering AWD and torque vectoring in conjunction with its engine. Yet this crappy design has a weak motor, weak engine, weak combined output, and no AWD.

    It’s as BMW intentionally learned nothing from its ‘i’ division in order to perpetuate its myriad of engine-only offerings. Or maybe the ‘i’ division won’t let regular PHEVs compete with its aging flagship. Tesla had no problem obsoleting its Roadster with Model S performance variants, yet BMW fails to move forward with its weak PHEVs. The Volvo Twin Engine PHEVs are better than BMW’s, and Chevy Volt is at another level of powerertain and range development.

  • U8INIT

    “At least the added weight makes the ride supple”….but in any other car it’s a cow on wheels :/ biased much?!

  • Dennis

    I have had my 330e for 9 months in Seattle. I am at 81.6 mpg lifetime now. The last two tanks of fuel have lasted 1,000 and 1,250 miles respectively. I have a 7 mile commute each way so on a normal day it uses no gasoline. I travel to SeaTac Airport often, which is 21 miles. I charge at the airport for the return home and get within two miles or so before the battery is exhausted. I also have done a number of trips over the Cascades and on I-5 north and south and have averaged 38-42 Mpg at freeway speeds after the battery charge is gone. I love the combination of electric in urban areas and performance and BMW features on longer trips. A big improvement over the ActivHybrid 3 I had previously and so much fun to drive. Not everyone will get the mpg I get but if you have a short urban commute it will be in electric mode all the time. It would be great if it had longer battery range but that will come with the next generation. Charging at home here is less than ten cents per kilowatt hour so it’s about 70 cents to travel 20 miles. At Blink public chargers it is 39 cents per kilowatt hour so it makes less economic sense but keeps your carbon footprint low. The electricity here is greenhouse gas free as it is over 90 percent hydro generated and the rest is mitigated. I also generated about 9000 kilowatt hours from my solar system last year. I couldn’t be happier with the 330e.