BMW Adds Pair of Plug-In Hybrids to Popular 3 Series Line-Up for 2021

by Tom Crosby

The BMW Series 3 sedan is the company’s best-selling vehicle since its launch in 1982 and now adds two plug-in hybrids for 2021 as part of its future strategy to have 25 electrified models on the road by 2030, half of them intended to be fully electric.

We test drove the new hybrid plug-in BMW 330e sedan, with a little better electric-only range than the BMW 330e xDrive (all wheel drive). The 330e xDrive has a new Intelligent Personal Assistance option that lets you verbally seek answers and access vehicle functions just by saying “Hey BMW.” 

Unfortunately, it was not included in our eight options which cost $14,100 for the upgrades. Our test vehicle came with attractive Cognac Vemasca leather seats and trim, dynamic handling, driver assistance, M Sport package, parking assistance, executive package and LED adaptive lighting. BMW, like other luxury manufacturers, requires options to maximize potential.

The BMW Series 3 consists of 330i, 330e and M340i rear-wheel drive models, with X-drive adding all-wheel-drive.

The new generation 330e adds an exterior redesign with 19-inch run-flat tires using the M Sport Package, an Xtraboost 40 horsepower increase using Sport mode, 22/23-mile range on battery power alone, eDrive technology that efficiently monitors battery usage, automated parking and back-up for tight spaces. In addition, it comes with 360-degree cameras and the provide location details for local technicians who can install the home charger Wallbox. It all contributes to the moniker’s long-standing mantra “Ultimate Driving Machine”. 

Outfitted with driver safety aids, good handling (just shy of sport-car standards) and crash-crafted sheet-metal construction, the 330e received a top rating in insurance industry tests.

In any of five drive modes, the drivetrain can seamlessly blend electric motor with the combustion engine and in Sport mode zip to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. 

Inside, the spacious cabin includes excellent rear seating room, a refined fit and finish using premium materials with leather stitching and chrome and wood accents.

The elevated 8.8-inch dashboard screen responded well to voice commands and functions were intuitively accessed via BMW’s center spine knob and BMW Connect. There is a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display. 

All seats are comfortable, with thigh extenders in front. Cargo space is smallish with rear seats up. The trunk lid opens automatically but closes manually.

The 330e includes a standard 12-year warranty against rust perforation; no free maintenance.

At a Glance

LIKES: Quickness, ride, safety features, quiet, luxurious interior, driving modes, technology
DISLIKES: Options needed, small cargo space, no spare tire
BOTTOM LINE: Typical BMW quality with touch of green mixed with performance prowess

 

Fact File: 2021 BMW 330e Sedan

Base price w/destination fee
Curb weight
Wheelbase
Length
Width
Engine
Horsepower (gas only)
Torque (gas only)
Horsepower (electric only )
Torque (electric only Combined Power)
 
Transmission
 
 
EPA Milage
Fuel Tank
Performance
$45,545 ($59,645 as tested)
4,138 lbs.
112.2 inches
185.7 inches
81.4 inches
2.0-liter, twin-turbo inline 4
181-hp@3,800-6,500 rpm
258-ft.lbs@1,450-3,600
107@3,170 rpm
77 ft.lbs@0-3,170 rpm
288-hp/310 ft.lbs
8-speed Sport Steptronic manual paddles
28-mpg city/highway gas only
22 miles electric only
75-mpg equivalent gas/electric

10.6 gallons, premium
0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.

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