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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.

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