Hybrid or internal combustion?
The BMW 330e—the 3 Series plug-in hybrid—will come to North America next year as a 2021 model year, and it will do so with a 2.0-liter turbo-four that produces 184 hp mated to a 113-hp electric motor for a combined output of 252 hp, just short of the 255 hp that the 330i has. Whether you like low emissions and saving money at the pump or prefer the sound of the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine echoing through the speakers, you’ll be able to choose between the two for this new G20 generation.
We recently had a chance to drive the 330e in Munich, and after spending many days in the 330i, here are four reasons why you should get the hybrid and four things working in the internal combustion model’s favor.
Although the 330i is pretty fun to drive and is quite powerful, the 330e has just as much power—if not more. The plug-in hybrid comes with the standard XtraBoost mode, which can deliver 41 additional horses, bringing the total combined output to 292 hp for 10 seconds. Like we noticed in the German country roads, XtraBoost turns the 330e into a powerful machine. The sound of the exhaust and the agility of the car add not only more oomph but also a better driving experience at the wheel.
Internal Combustion: Power on Demand
If you’d rather have 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque on demand at all times, then the 330i is the one to go with. In our own testing, the 2020 330i went from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 14.0 seconds at 98.1 mph (157.9 km/h). Like we’ve said in the past, the 3 Series is a fun car to drive, but stiff competition from Genesis, Alfa Romeo, and Tesla have knocked the 3 Series down from the top of the list.
Internal Combustion: Weight
Given the 12-kW-hr battery that the 330e has, the plug-in hybrid is about 440 pounds (200 kg) heavier than the 330i. BMW says the battery weights around 330 pounds (150 kg), and other hybrid components (like the electric motor) adds an additional 110 pounds (50 kg). The extra heft is quite noticeable at the wheel, where the 330e feels more planted and heavier than the 330i.
Hybrid: Low Emissions
Although it’s too early to know what the fuel economy will be, we expect the new 330e to improve upon the 71 mpg-e combined of the 2018 330e. The 3 Series plug-in hybrid will also have about 30 miles (48 km) of electric range, which is a decent bump over the 17 miles (27 km) that the previous 330e had.
Internal Combustion: Space
Because the battery is located under the rear seats, the fuel tank is now above the rear axle, which means the 330e has less cargo room compared to the 330i. How much less? The 330i has 17.0 cubic feet, whereas the 330e has 13.2. The good news is that part of the hybrid’s cargo floor can be lowered, leaving enough space for a golf bag. But beware: The rest of the trunk is pretty tight.
Hybrid: Smart Car
When the 330e is in Hybrid mode with the navigation system on, the route will be programmed depending on the traffic and geography of the terrain. The system will avoid steep inclines and high-speed highways for a route with downhills and sections that will recharge the battery. In some European cities, where the “green zones” allow only emission-free cars, the 330e’s geofencing technology will automatically shut off the engine in favor of electric mode. That’s something that the 330i can’t do.
Unlike the previous 330e, the new model doesn’t have any blue grilles or any kind of badge that identifies it as a hybrid. Besides the charging port located next to the driver’s door, there’s no indication that this is an electrified vehicle. BMW says this was done on purpose, as owners didn’t want their vehicles to look any different than regular internal combustion cars.