The BMW 3-Series is already a legend for obvious reasons including packaging, handling and all around sportiness. With the 2018 BMW 330e, is it a case of too much of a good thing, or is it another option for fanboys of “the Ultimate Driving Machine?”
What’s it all about?
The 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance is the semi-electrified version of the existing BMW 3-series four-door platform. Essentially designed to specifications of what others call a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), it is powered BMW’s well known inline four-cylinder twinpower turbocharged engine producing 180 hp at 5000-6500 rpm, and 215 lb-ft of torque at 1350-4250 rpm. This four-cylinder works in conjunction with BMWs permanent activated synchronous electric motor that adds an additional 87 hp for a cumulative total of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That sense of urgency spurts out from the four-cylinder/electric power unit to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift levers.
Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery mounted below the trunk floor. Plugging the included wall outlet charger offers the same stimulating qualities found while watching paint dry; plug into a level II supercharger, and the task can be completed in a more palatable 2.2-hours.
Our BMW 330e iPerformance sedan, as equipped, was capable of a top speed of 140 mph. This eDrive sedan allowed speeds
up to 75 mph on electricity alone when set in Max eDrive mode. Auto eDrive, which was the more subtle of the drive modes, allowed electrical operation for speeds up to 50 mph. Anything above that caused the package to revert to hybrid operations. There are other user-variable settings that reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning and other electrical operations inside the vehicle, while extending the attainable electric mileage figures.
The 330e is available in a single trim level. It will likely be cross-shopped against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Lexus ES300h.
The view from within.
The view inside the 330e is typical BMW, as we’ve grown to enjoy through the years. If you liked the 2017 model, you’ll love the 2018 too, and most likely the 2019 as well. This sample included Venetian Beige Sensatec (“pleather”) upholstery. Our tester was ordered with the Convenience Package ($1,750), with keyless entry, a moonroof, lumbar support and Sirius XM satellite radio with a one-year subscription. Also on tap was the BMW Shadow Sport Edition package ($1,350), that added 18-inch bicolor wheels, a sport leather steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite wood trim, park distance control, ambient lighting and LED fog lamps. The only other extras were Apple CarPlay ($300) compatibility and BMW navigation ($1,700).
The BMW 330e includes a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, and 8-year/80,000-mile High Voltage Battery Warranty.
On board safety was rather basic and included BMW’s front and rear head protection system, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags and knee airbags for driver and front passenger.
Behind the wheel:
Adding in the lithium-ion battery tends to really pork up the standard BMW 3-series platform. As it were with our 330e, this four-door five-passenger Sedan ended up tipping the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds, or as they say at across the pond, 2-tonnes. But all things considered, 0-60 mph in 5.8-seconds is not terrible, just saying.
We found the 2.0-liter/electric power unit to be most effective while in highway driving mode. It’s quite evident, while driving with the huge slab of batteries under the trunk floor, that the 3-series’ handling dynamics have been jostled just a bit, thanks to the higher, and rearward-mounted center of gravity that has been thrown into disarray by the Li-ion cells. Normal driving situations are just that, normal. But we like the added benefit that comes with the four-cylinder gasoline engine when sudden energy is requested from the bridge. A jab of the accelerator causes the engine to step down, with the results being very similar to recent Formula One cars and their kinetic energy recovery system (KERS system). Sure, the sudden burst is only temporary, but it is an exhilarating boost, nonetheless.
And if we were an owner, we would be mighty chuffed over the combined 30 miles per gallon city/highway ratings. Those figures are nothing to sneeze at, taking 3.3 gallons of fuel to drive 100 miles. But the real bragging comes from the electricity plus gasoline fuel economy ratings that yield a 71 mile-per-gallon equivalency. Sure it’s probably EPA conservative, but those are still numbers you can crow about.
2018 BMW 330e iPerformance
Base MSRP: $45,600 As tested: $52,245.
Includes: BMW Convenience Package, $1,750; BMW Shadow Sport Edition Package, $1,350; Apple CarPlay, $300; BMW Navigation, $1,700; Destination fee, $995.
Cylinders: Inline 4-cylinder
Power: 185 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
Torque: 215 lb-ft @ 1,350-4,250 rpm
Fuel System: Gas Direct Injection
Power Unit: Electric Synchronous Motor
Combined Power: 248
Combined Torque: 310
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.8 seconds
Drive Type RWD
Gearbox: 8-Speed Automatic
Tire Size: 180 inch Low Rolling Resistance
Unladen Weight: 3,900-pounds
Cargo Volume: 13 cubic feet
Combined: 30 mpg
MPG Gasoline / Electric 71 mpg equivalent