Ever since it made its debut in 1975, the BMW 3 Series has become the face of the Bavarian company’s automotive portfolio. Six generations and five body styles later, the 3 Series is still hitting its stride as BMW’s best-selling model, accounting for almost 30 percent of the company’s annual automotive sales volume. The launch of the BMW 330e, the first hybrid model of the 3 Series family, is the latest variation of the popular line and one that BMW believes will be the next step in the 3 Series’ continued evolution.

The 330e isn’t BMW’s first venture into the world of hybrid vehicles. That distinction belongs to the 2015 BMW i8 and 2015 BMW i3. But the 330e does have a distinction of its own as the first Bimmer from an already existing line to get the hybrid treatment. BMW used technology developed for both the i8 and i3 to carve down this new road for the 3 Series, confident that the 330e will be able to pick up where the two “i” models left off and showcase the advancements the company has made in hybrid technology to a more mainstream audience.

Whether the 330e can accomplish that remains to be seen. But that’s a topic for another time. The 300e will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid.

  • 2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    8-speed Steptronic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    252
  • Torque @ RPM:
    310
  • Displacement:
    1998 cc
  • 0-60 time:
    6.1 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    140 mph
  • Price:
    40000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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The 330e gets the same mid-cycle facelift like the rest of the 2016 BMW 3 Series family. The changes itself are pretty subtle and you won’t notice anything different in the front other than the addition of the charging door in the front wing on the driver’s side, just between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar.

The charging door is an integral part of the 330e so BMW used a sealing system on the flap that protects it from the elements. Inside, a corona ring was installed on the charging socket to show the change in colors that indicate the battery’s charging status. A flashing blue ring, for instance, indicates that the battery’s still charging while a solid blue ring means that the charging is paused. Meanwhile, a flashing yellow ring means that some kind of systems check is currently taking place, while a flashing red ring means that the charging system is inactive. Once the charge is complete, the ring emits a solid green light.

Around back is where you’ll notice some of the more noticeable styling changes made for the 330e. The taillights may be the same, but there is a different rear bumper design and the integrated lights are shorter in length than the ones found on other 3 Series models. The placement of the exhausts are also different. Where other 3 Series models have both exhausts on opposite sides of the car, the 330e has them together on the left side.

Exterior Dimensions

Length 4,633 MM (182.40 Inches)
Width 1,811 MM (71.29 Inches)
Height 1,429 MM (56.25 Inches)
Wheelbase 2,810 MM (110.62 Inches)
Track, front/rear 1,543/1,583 MM (60.74/62.32 Inches)
Ground clearance 140 MM (5.51 Inches)

Interior

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Interior Drivetrain
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2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Interior Drivetrain
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2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Interior Drivetrain
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It’s the same story with the interior of the 330e. Give credit to BMW for addressing the 3 Series’ cabin in its mid-cycle facelift and giving it a more refined and premium look that fits into the status of the series. The only difference of note on the 330e is the handful of toggles and switches used in connection with the hybrid drivetrain. These include the Driving Experience Control switch and the eDrive switch, both of which can be found on the center console.

Outside of the slightly reconfigured center console, the rest of the cabin is standard 3-Series, which is to say that it’s awash in fine leather and has enough space to comfortably fit five adults, thanks in part to its 40/20/40 rear seat split. Even with the comfortable seating space in the cabin, the 330e still has at least 13 cubic feet of cargo space available.

Drivetrain

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Drivetrain
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At the heart of the BMW 330e is a hybrid powertrain that includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 181 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque and a plug-in hybrid drive system that generates 88 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.

With just the battery, the 330e can reach speeds in excess of 75 mph, but with turbo-four engine, the sedan can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds to go with a top speed of 140 mph.

Put together, the 330e is capable of producing a total system output of 248 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque, all of which is sent to the two rear wheels courtesy of a standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

With just the battery, the 330e can reach speeds in excess of 75 mph, but with turbo-four engine, the sedan can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds to go with a top speed of 140 mph. Fuel economy has been rated at 112 to 124 mpg on the European cycle with range in everyday driving conditions at 373 miles.

On its own, the lithium-ion battery carries a total capacity of 7.6 kWh, allowing the 330e to run exclusively on the battery’s power for around 25 miles. Once power on the battery runs out, owners can charge it either through a traditional power socket or a BMW i Wallbox.

Charging a dried up battery through a power socket usually takes up to three hours and 15 minutes to get a full charge, whereas a BMW i Wallbox with a charging power of 3.7 kW only takes two hours and 15 minutes.

Drivetrain Specifications

Drive System
Drive concept Full hybrid drive, permanent excited synchronous machine
System output 252 HP
Combustion Engine
Config/No of cyls/valves In-line/4/4
Engine technology BMW TwinPower Turbo technology: TwinScroll turbocharger, High Precision Injection, fully variable valve control VALVETRONIC, variable camshaft control Double-VANOS
Capacity, effective cc 1998
Stroke/bore mm 94.6/82.0
Compression ratio :1 11.0
Max output 184 HP @ 5,000–6,500 RPM
Max torque 214 LB-FT @ 1,350–4,250 RPM
Electric Motor
Motor technology BMW eDrive technology: synchronous electric motor integrated in 8-speed Steptronic, generator function for energy recuperation for the high-voltage battery
Max output 88 HP @ 2,500 RPM
Max torque 250 LB-FT @ 0–2,500 RPM
High-voltage Battery
Storage technology/installation Lithium-ion/underfloor, under boot floor
Voltage V 293
Capacity (gross) kWh 7.6
Charging time for 80% charge 1.6 h at 3.7 kW (16 A/230 V)

Safety

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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Just like the entire range of the 3 Series, the 330e was designed with the objective of minimizing the risk of accidents. The body itself is made from high-strength steel to provide maximum protection for the driver and his passengers. Large-volume support structures, including a number of deformation zones scattered throughout the body, help absorb forces caused by accidents and minimize any kind of damage to the cockpit.

BMW’s attention to safety on the 330e sedan was also done in so much as to ensure that the added plug-in hybrid system wouldn’t compromise the weight distribution on the car. The system itself was positioned under the trunk of the car and with the gasoline engine in the front, the 330e has a 50-50 weight distribution, ensuring that the car remains as balanced and as responsive to the driver as any other 3 Series model.

Prices

BMW has not yet announced pricing for the 330e. That said, I expect the 330e to be priced right near the top of the 3 Series range. The base price for the 3 Series starts at $33,150 for the 320i, going all the way up to the 340i xDrive with its $47,800 price tag. If I’m going to put a price tag on the 330e, I think it’s going to sell for about $43,000 to $47,000.

Competition

2016 Mercedes C 350e Plug-In Hybrid

2016 Mercedes C350 Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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The BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class have had a rivalry that has lasted generations. It’s no surprise that with the growing popularity of hybrid vehicles, both BMW and Mercedes are jumping in with their own respective models. For Mercedes, that model is the C 350 Plug-In Hybrid.

Just like the BMW 330e, the C 350 Plug-In Hybrid takes a huge chunk of its styling cues from the rest of the C-Class family. The only difference between the C 350 Plug-In Hybrid and its siblings is the presence of an electric socket cap on the rear-right corner of the car to go with some mild aerodynamic enhancements.

Mercedes has yet to announce the official performance numbers of the 350e Plug-In Hybrid, but the company did say that the sedan will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that combines with an electric motor to produce 275 horsepower. That’s a little more than what the 330e has at its disposal, but the real battle in this regard will be on the Merc hybrid’s efficiency numbers, including battery range and fuel economy. On that end, Mercedes has not yet disclosed what the C 350e is fully capable of.

Pricing for the Merc C-Class hybrid is also unknown at this point. What I do know is that Merc only plans to sell the C350e Plug-In Hybrid in ZEV states for the time being. That includes California, Oregon, Maine, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland.

What sets the C 350e Plug-In Hybrid apart is that Mercedes plans to offer the model in both sedan and wagon versions. No word yet on whether BMW will do the same with the 330e.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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I’m glad BMW finally decided to go the hybrid route on the 3-Series. It’s about time, too, since a lot of the competition, including Mercedes, have been preparing their own hybrid sedans. Now that the 330e is here, it’s going to be interesting how BMW managed to adopt the technologies it developed for the i Series and translate it into one of its most popular models.

The output isn’t where I thought it would be, but it’s not something that I’m going to complain about. Hybrid vehicles, especially in a segment like this, isn’t all about speed and power. It’s about channeling as much power as the car can have and balancing it with the benefits of having a plug-in hybrid system that can do a lot of the work in places where the turbo-four engine doesn’t have to.
It does look like BMW got that right. It remains to be seen if these fuel efficiency and mileage numbers are accurate, but if they are, the 330e might end up becoming the most popular variant of the 3 Series. That’s as much a testament to BMW’s hybrid technology as it is to the changing landscape of the auto industry.

  • Leave it
    • Might be more expensive than most 3 Series models
    • More need for maintenance
    • Not as powerful as I thought

Press Release

The arrival of the new BMW 330e offers customers another innovative route to Sheer Driving Pleasure. With its plug-in hybrid drive system, the latest BMW 3 Series variant combines the dynamic flair for which the brand is renowned with the option of driving on electric power alone (locally emissionfree) and the promise of unbeatable efficiency over longer distances. The BMW 330e therefore brings together high-quality dynamics and extremely low fuel consumption. The fusion of BMW eDrive technology (developed under the BMW EfficientDynamics banner) with a BMW TwinPower Turbo petrol engine has resulted in an efficient and dynamic plug-in hybrid drive
system which fits perfectly with the BMW brand: dynamically adept, locally emission-free (thanks to its electric driving system) and efficient.

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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The plug-in hybrid drive system delivers familiar BMW driving dynamics by pairing a cutting-edge electric motor producing 65 kW/88 hp and a peak torque of 250 Nm / 184 lb-ft with a four-cylinder combustion engine, which develops 135 kW/184 hp and 290 Nm / 214 lb-ft of torque. Combined average fuel consumption in the NEDC cycle is 2.1–1.9 litres* per 100 kilometres (134.5–148.7 mpg imp), with CO2 emissions coming in at 49–44 g/km*. With a system output of 185 kW/252 hp and peak torque of 420 Nm / 310 lb-ft, the BMW 330e accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.1 seconds on the way to a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). In everyday driving conditions, a range of up to 600 kilometres (373 miles) is very much within reach. The electric motor and combustion engine send their power to the sedan’s rear wheels via a standard-fitted eight-speed Steptronic transmission. The arrangement of the electric motor in front of the transmission allows the transmission ratios to be used in all-electric mode as well. This means a torque converter can be omitted, which partially cancels out the extra weight of the additional drive unit.

Power delivery akin to a large-capacity combustion engine

The drive unit’s operating strategy features a permanent electric boost function. Here, the electric motor supplements the power from the combustion engine with 100 Nm / 74 lb-ft of torque and can deliver a brief extra burst – depending on the position of the accelerator – of up to 250 Nm /184 lb-ft. On the move, this comes across as an extremely forceful and sustained wave of power, similar to the sensation a large-capacity combustion engine might produce. And because ample power is on hand at all times, asuperior and relaxed driving feeling results. Overtaking manoeuvres are that much quicker and the BMW 330e offers a rousing sense of driving pleasure
on all types of road.

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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The high-voltage battery, made up of lithium-ion cells, is located underneath the boot and boasts efficient refrigerant cooling including a highly integrated low-temperature circuit. The battery has a total capacity of 7.6 kWh, which enables an all-electric and therefore locally emission-free range of around 40 kilometres (25 miles), all of which identifies the BMW 330e as a perfect model for city dwellers and commuters. When the BMW 330e is taking a break, the high-voltage battery can be charged from either a conventional domestic power socket or a BMW i Wallbox. A BMW i Wallbox (charging power: 3.7 kW) will fully charge an empty battery in just two hours and 15 minutes. If only a domestic power socket is available, the process takes three hours and 15 minutes.

The neat integration of the high-voltage battery in the compartment under the boot gives the BMW 330e a level load compartment floor, while use of the optional through-loading system with 40:20:40 split rear seat backrests remains unrestricted. Together with its boot capacity of 370 litres, the new BMW 330e thus offers all the everyday practicality of a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series Sedan. Added to which, the intelligent positioning of the electric drive system’s components allows finely balanced weight distribution – 50 per cent over the front axle, 50 per cent over the rear axle – and, in so doing, paves the way for the dynamic and dextrous handling shared by all BMW 3 Series models.

BMW eDrive adapts both to the situation at hand and those ahead

As well as the Driving Experience Control switch with its SPORT, COMFORT and ECO PRO settings, the driver can also adapt the responses of BMW eDrive to the vehicle’s use at any one time by means of a toggle switch in the centre console. There is a choice of three driving modes: AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE and SAVE BATTERY. AUTO eDRIVE ensures the combustion engine and electric motor work together to optimum effect in all driving situations and allows an all-electric top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
This mode is activated automatically as the default setting every time the car is started up.

In MAX eDRIVE mode the BMW 330e uses the car’s electric power only, drawing on the electric drive system’s full output. A top speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) is possible. Its ability to cover up to 40 kilometres (25 miles) in this all-electric mode makes the BMW 330e the ideal car for commuters or city dwellers, for example, as it allows them to complete their daily journeys extremely efficiently and with an eye on the environment. The combustion engine can, however, cut in at any time if the accelerator is pushed down beyond its kickdown position when additional power is required, e.g. for overtaking.

2016 BMW 330e Plug-In Hybrid High Resolution Exterior
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SAVE BATTERY mode allows the battery’s energy stores to be deliberately maintained – or increased again if the charge level has dropped below 50 percent. This energy can then be used for pure-electric driving, on a part of the journey running through city streets, for example.

BMW ConnectedDrive assists the driver in a variety of ways

BMW ConnectedDrive works in tandem with the navigation system to allow even better use of the available electric energy. Here, the system assists the driver with proactive energy management and calculates an operating strategy which responds to the driving style and route profile at hand – and thus ensures the plug-in hybrid drive system is used as efficiently as possible. The system adapts the drive strategy to the overall route profile. For example, the car uses all-electric power along urban streets and electric energy is also deployed on uphill sections so that the system’s full recuperation potential can be used on a subsequent downhill stretch. This equips the BMW 330e perfectly to offer locally emission-free driving, as well as covering longer stretches extremely efficiently and with less impact on the environment. Like all BMW 3 Series models, the BMW 330e has a comfortable and classy interior featuring five seats, practical details and the ergonomic operating
concept typical of BMW. Moreover, the BMW 330e comes as standard with auxiliary heating and cooling (output: 5 kW). These functions can be activated by a button on the car key or pre-programmed using a two-week timer either on the iDrive operating system or via the BMW ConnectedDrive smartphone app. The details are shown on the Control Display.

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