2021 BMW 3 Series Gets Plug-In Hybrid With Increased EV Range
Competes with: Gas-only BMW 3 Series, Volvo S60 T8, low gas prices
Looks like: The current-generation 3-Series, now with a plug on the driver-side front fender
Powertrain: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine combined with an electric motor and battery producing a total system output of 288 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque with XtraBoost; eight-speed automatic transmission; rear- (330e) or all-wheel drive (330e xDrive)
Hits dealerships: May 2020
BMW adds a new plug-in hybrid 330e and 330e xDrive to its portfolio of electrified cars, offering up to an estimated 22 miles of all-electric driving in the 330e; the 330e xDrive with all-wheel drive is estimated at 20 miles. The previous 330e was capable of only 14 miles of electric-only driving, so this is a slight improvement. Efficiency is a maximum estimated 75 mpg-e rating, up from 71 (both the electric range and mpg-e estimates for the 2021 model are BMW’s, not the EPA’s). Pricing starts at $45,545 for the rear-wheel-drive 330e; add $2,000 for AWD, making it $3,800 more expensive than a gas-only 2020 330i. Pricing includes a $995 destination fee.
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Buyers can receive recommendations from the selling dealer for a local provider to install at-home charging, and BMW has also teamed with Amazon to help customers research and schedule professional installation of home charging units.
There’s not a lot different about the 330e’s looks compared to a gas-only 330i. The badging will say 330e, and there’s a plug door on the driver-side front fender. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, and there are multiple sets of optional 19-inch wheels available. Even BMW’s M Sport Package is available on this PHEV, adding the same sporty exterior touches like an aero kit and darkened trim.
The interior also remains largely unchanged. Wood trim is standard, and aluminum trim is optional. A heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats are also optional. The gauge cluster is a 5.7-inch digital display and the multimedia screen is 8.8 inches with standard Apple CarPlay and the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment software. Android Auto is not yet available, but owners of Samsung Galaxy smartphones running the Android 8.0 operating system or later can use their phone as a digital key (if their cellphone carrier supports this feature).
Power and 0-60 MPH
The 330e and 330e xDrive both use the same combination of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine, electric motor and battery producing a total system output of 288 hp and 310 pounds-feet of torque, which breaks down as follows:
- Gas engine: 181 hp, 258 pounds-feet
- Electric motor: 107 hp, 77 pounds-feet
The 330e also offers a feature BMW calls XtraBoost, which is only available in Sport mode and can provide an immediate increase of 40 hp when the accelerator pedal is depressed enough to cause the transmission to kick down. When operating on electric power only in Hybrid mode, the 330e can move at speeds up to 68 mph and when in fully electric mode, the 330e can travel at speeds up to 87 mph, increases of 19 and 12 mph, respectively.
The only other plug-in hybrid compact luxury sedan available in the U.S. currently is the Volvo S60, which comes in a “regular” T8 plug-in hybrid variant and a performance-oriented Polestar Engineered version. In the T8 total system output is 400 hp, 495 pounds-feet of torque and 22 miles of electric-only range. The Polestar Engineered S60 gains an extra 15 hp, but loses one pound-foot of torque. Both are also much more expensive than the 330e, with the T8 starting at over $57,000 and the Polestar Engineered at over $66,000.
The 330e’s lithium-ion battery’s capacity is listed at 12 kilowatt-hours gross, which is the maximum capacity, but according to BMW spokesperson Oleg Satanovsky BMW also lists the usable capacity (net rating), which is 9.09 kwh, because batteries aren’t charged to their fullest capacity for longevity purposes.
The only transmission is an eight-speed automatic. The 330e is rear-wheel drive while the 330e xDrive is all-wheel drive. BMW estimates a 0-60-mph time of 5.6 seconds for the 330e and 5.7 for the 330e xDrive. Electric-only range for either version is limited — 22 miles for the 330e and 20 for the 330e xDrive, according to BMW’s estimates — and the expected mpg-e figures are 75 for the 330e and 67 for the 330e xDrive.
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Standard safety features include:
- Automatic forward collision detection with pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Lane departure warning
Optional packages can add:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind spot warning and collision avoidance
- Adaptive LED headlights
- Head-up display
BMW anticipates the 330e plug-in hybrid will go on sale in May 2020, though *gesturing vaguely at the state of the world* that may change.
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