Although adoption of EVs is growing at an increasing rate, factors including range anxiety and limited charging options still exist. Why not have the best of both worlds with a plug-in hybrid such as the new 2021 BMW 330e sedan?
This second iteration of the PHEV debuted last year yielding double the pure electric range compared to before, as well as new performance features while delivering all the modern accoutrements of the seventh-gen 3 Series based on the G20 chassis.
The zero-emissions range of 66 kilometres isn’t a whole lot, but should be sufficient considering most Canadians drive less than 100 kilometres per day on average. And unlike many competitors that turn the gas engine back on at highway speeds, drivers can travel up to 110 km/h without using any fuel (30 km/h quicker than previously).
In true BMW fashion catering to enthusiasts, a new standard XtraBoost mode kicks in anytime Sport mode is activated via the Driver Experience Control switch located next to the gear lever. Pressing down on the accelerator leverages the combination powertrain to unlock an additional 40 horsepower for up to 10 seconds, helping the car get from 0 to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds.
On the topic of speed, the 330e takes advantage of both a 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four cylinder and a 135-kilowatt together putting out a net 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. A smooth eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, capable of rev-matching when gearing down, takes care of shifting duties. Over a week of driving mostly in an urban environment, I averaged a very respectable 8.6 L/100 km fuel consumption.
The high-voltage onboard lithium-ion battery is mounted under the rear seats giving the car a low centre of gravity and minimizes intrusion into the trunk, which, rated at 375 litres, is only slightly smaller as a result than the conventional model. Handling feels on-par with a non-hybrid variant, the available xDrive all-wheel drive providing loads of grip on any road surface.
Charged during regenerative braking, the stored energy in the battery also allows for auxiliary heating and air conditioning, meaning the interior temperature may be pre-set before anyone steps foot inside the cabin.
Buyers are able to bundle virtually any package offered for the regular 3 Series sedan, like the M Sport Package (+ $2,000) equipped on our tester adding the cool blacked-out kidney grille, 19-inch split-five-spoke alloy wheels and more.
The 2021 BMW 330e xDrive is built at BMW Group’s San Luis Potosí production facility in Mexico and starts at $54,000 MSRP.