Joining BMW’s growing lineup of electrified cars — which already includes the i3 all-electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car — is the 2016 eDrive 330e. The plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series sedan promises the familiar look and luxury of the regular 3 Series but with an ultra-efficient gas-electric hybrid powertrain, sophisticated driving dynamics and an all-electric, zero-emissions range the automaker says is practical for city drivers and commuters.
If you like the exterior of the regular 3 Series sedan, it’s unlikely you’ll find anything to dislike about the 330e. It reprises the signature twin-kidney grille and pointed wraparound headlights, along with contoured character lines spanning the hood and sides. The main identifiable difference between the regular and plug-in versions is the covered charging port just behind the driver-side front wheel.
Much of the interior also carries over, and since the 330e’s lithium-ion battery pack is positioned under the trunk, cargo room isn’t impacted. Trunk space is about 13 cubic feet, according to BMW, the same as the 2016 BMW 328i.
The 330e comes standard with auxiliary heating and cooling, which can be activated by a button on the car key or preprogrammed either via the iDrive operating system or the BMW ConnectedDrive smartphone app.
The rear-wheel-drive 330e is powered by the tandem contributions of a gas engine and electric motor that runs on a 7.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack; the system makes a combined 247 horsepower. BMW says it’s good for a 5.9-second zero-to-60 mph sprint on its way to a 130-mph top speed. The gas engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 180 hp, while the electric motor puts out 76 hp. The system is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain also features a permanent electric boost function, which boosts power in passing situations.
In addition to a trio of selectable driving modes — Sport, Comfort and Eco Pro — the driver can also choose from another three settings that govern battery use. Auto eDrive balances the use of the gas engine and electric motor for “optimum effect in all driving situations.” Max eDrive uses electric power only and allows a top speed of 75 mph, and the gas engine can take over any time greater acceleration is needed. Save Battery mode ensures the battery’s energy stores are maintained, or regenerated, if the charge level drops below 50 percent.
The battery, the automaker says, can be recharged in 2 hours and 15 minutes using a BMW i Wallbox with a charging power of 3.7 kilowatts, while a full charge takes an extra hour on a household power socket.