NOT everyone wanting futuristic engine technology wants their car to also look futuristic. To look like BMW’s i3 for instance.
If you’re buying from this Bavarian brand and want a petrol/electric powerplant, the 330e Plug-in hybrid offers a more subtle way to go.
You get 21 miles of all-electric driving range when the car’s charged up, which enables the creation of some impressive overall stats - 134.5mpg on the combined cycle and just 49g/km of CO2.
Take some time to understand BMW’s thinking here and it’s hard not to be impressed. The 330e Plug-in hybrid replaces the old ActiveHybrid3 model, the main difference between the two cars found when it comes to measurement of all-electric driving range.
This was negligible in the ActiveHybrid3 but in a 330e, BMW clams up to 21 miles of zero emissions motoring from a fullycharged set of batteries.
In other words, if you’ve a pretty typical daily commute, you might never have to fuel up this car to complete it.
As you might expect, this kind of cleverness comes courtesy of a very advanced powerplant indeed, in this case a combination of the 184bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit from the 320i mated to an 80kW electric motor.
These two elements create a combined output of 264bhp and a combined maximum torque figure of 420Nm, good enough when you switch into full engine mode to send this car to 62mph in 6.1s on the way to 140mph.
The all-electric top speed is 74mph. Drive meets the tarmac via an 8-speed auto gearbox.
This isn’t the kind of Plug-in hybrid model you’ll buy if you want to make an eco-statement.
Unless you really know your BMWs, there’s almost nothing to visually differentiate a 330e from any other 3 Series saloon.
And like other 3 Series saloon models, it benefits from a package of aesthetic revisions introduced in mid-2015. The 330e only comes in saloon guise, but you do get four trim levels to choose from - ‘SE’, ‘Sport’, ‘Luxury’ and ‘M Sport’.
Prices start at around £34,000, but you (or more likely your company Fleet Manager) will be able to deduct £2,500 from that figure courtesy of the government’s Plug-in car grant.
BMW claims that when fully charged (ideally from the optional ‘BMW i Wallbox’), this car will run in full-electric zero-emissions mode for up to 21 miles, a factor that computes out to some impressive overall stats - 134.5mpg on the combined cycle and just 49g/km of CO2.
Of course it’s unlikely that you’d ever achieve those kinds of figures in real world driving conditions, but the important thing is that the government believes them, hence the attractive tax breaks that’ll come as part and parcel of 330e model ownership.
BMW has at last brought us a hybrid 3 Series model that makes real world sense.
The old ‘Active Hybrid 3’ model never did, with its high price and tiny all-electric driving range. Fortunately, technology has moved on and this 330e demonstrates just how far, adding classic styling into the mix.
If you were thinking of a high-spec dieselengined version of this Bavarian model, we think you really have to look at a 330e as a realistic alternative.
The long waiting lists for this variant suggest that many potential customers are.