BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

The impressive plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s popular 3 Series is one of the big sales successes of 2021.

With officially quoted CO2 emissions as low as 37g/km, the 330e is especially appealing for company car drivers looking to make significant tax savings.

It also makes sense for private motorists who are not quite ready to make the switch to a fully electric vehicle (EV), but still want to dip their toes into the future with a premium plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

With a pure electric range of up to 37 miles, it can handle short commutes on battery power alone, but long journeys are no problem either (372-mile range) thanks to its petrol engine. So, like all PHEVs, it offers the best of both worlds.

The BMW 330e pairs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (181bhp) and an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery, resulting in a combined output of 249bhp (or 289bhp for short bursts using the new ‘Xtraboost’ feature hidden in the Sport driving mode).

Opt for the rear-wheel drive model and the 0-62mph benchmark is reached in 6.1 seconds, while the xDrive four-wheel drive version is 0.2 seconds faster. Either way, top speed is 143mph.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Priced from £39,125 and available as a saloon or estate (Touring in BMW-speak), the 330e comes in SE, Sport and M Sport trims.

Apart from a few additional features in the infotainment system, ‘330e’ badging and an extra ‘fuel’ flap on the front wing, the only PHEV giveaway is the size of the boot, which is down from 480 litres to 375 litres (thanks to the battery pack located under the rear seats) and the hybrid/electric buttons beside the gear selector.

Charging the battery to 80% takes 2.4 hours using a 3.7kW home wallbox, or 5.5 hours via a domestic three-point plug.

If you want to travel in near-silence with zero emissions, select Electric mode, avoid hard acceleration and don’t go over 68mph.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

And if you run out of battery power, or simply fancy a blast, the switch from electric to petrol power is seamless.

Like most BMWs, the 330e offers a driver-focused driving experience. Not only is the power delivery responsive, but despite the extra 200kg compared to its petrol and diesel siblings, it handles just the way we’ve come to expect from this compact executive superstar.

In fact, more spirited drivers will relish tackling more challenging country roads in Sport mode, because the 330e boasts fantastic body control and superb agility.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Traction is impressive too, especially if you opt for BMW xDrive, while the brakes (so often a disappointment in PHEVs) are progressive and efficient.

The eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox is as slick as ever, while the steering is quick, predictable and nicely weighted,

Inside, the cabin is classic BMW – more business-like than flash – with a blend of premium materials and top build quality, combined with the ideal driving position.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

The latest version of iDrive remains one of the best in-car infotainment systems on the market and is projected through a 10.25-inch screen nicely integrated into the dash

In theory, the 330e is capable of 176-201mpg, but the reality is that 50-60mpg is achievable during mixed motoring if you keep the battery charged up overnight and you can restrain yourself on the road.

However, if your driving consists of short commutes, your visits to the filling station will become rare occasions because you’ll spend most of your time in EV mode.

BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid review

Frankly, it’s hard to criticise the 330e because it’s an almost perfect embodiment of a PHEV. Even if the modest boot space in the saloon is an issue, you can still opt for the Touring version instead, and while the four-cylinder engine is a little harsh when pushed hard, the car’s overall refinement is excellent.

Verdict: The BMW 330e Plug-in Hybrid is a class act – a winning combination of elegant looks, efficiency, driving dynamics and low running costs.

BMW 330e

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION

The twin-turbocharged, MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION can be a comfortable family sedan. Or it can be a very fast four-seat sedan with all-wheel-drive to safely play, or go out Supercar hunting, blogs Dan Scanlan.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION

I had to double check the numbers. First, our 4,345-pound M5 Competition boasted 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, with all-wheel-drive and launch control. The 4,600-mile-old sedan hit 60 mph in a hair over 3 seconds, and 100 mph in 7 – check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fb2MXz9dfS4

Then let’s compare: a 4,610-pound Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye with 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque did 60 mph in 4 seconds, and 100 mph in 8.2 with launch control on a slightly damp and cold night when we tested it. A 4,669-pound Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S Wagon with twin-turbocharged 4-liter V-8, 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of peak torque, saw 60 mph in 3.1 seconds with launch control, and 100 mph in 8. Yes, our M5, with carbon fiber roof and twin-turbocharged V-8 power, is the quickest four-passenger sedan I’ve tested, given weather conditions and drivetrain configuration.

This updated sixth-gen version MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION has cross-bank exhaust manifolds, direct injection and upgraded cooling to improve turbo response by reducing the distance exhaust gases flow to them. Default drive mode clicks on when you park yourself inside, giving all 617 horsepower, active stability control, full digital instrumentation and Head-Up display. Sport mode gives full power plus quicker gearshifts and stiffer suspension, with simplified digital dash showing tach, digital speed, gear and a G-force display if desired. Then there’s Track mode – full power, plus driver assistance, audio and center display off so you can focus. There’s also three xDrive modes – basic all-wheel-drive, rear-wheel-biased 4WD Sport, and rear-wheel-drive only, with stability and traction control limited or off.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITIONYou can set your two-favorite engine, transmission, suspension, steering, stability control and xDrive settings, then get quick access via two red “M” buttons on the steering wheel. M1 was efficient powertrain, comfort steering/suspension and full all-wheel drive for commuting; M2 preset engine and suspension on Sport Plus, steering on Sport, and full all-wheel-drive. In efficient M1, power aplenty to hit 60 mph in a very quick 3.6 seconds. M2 was quicker – 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, four tires grabbing as acceleration pinned me to the seat, then 100 mph in 7.2 seconds as the rear-biased M xDrive distributed torque between front and rear axles via a multi-plate clutch. An active differential splits torque between left and right rear wheels to keep us straight. We had a hint of rear wheelspin during launch control liftoff as we pulled .9Gs. In Track, a smoky burnout for fun, and tail-out drifting if you want. Select manual shifting in Sport Plus and you get an exhaust braaaap at upshifts, and delightful exhaust crackle on overrun. Mixing modes, we averaged 15 mpg.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITIONThe M5 has double-wishbone front/five-link rear suspension with Comfort, Sport and Sport damper control. Our M5 Competition model added new shocks and recalibrated damper control, a .2-inch lower ride and increased front negative camber, firmer rear anti-roll bar and 10 percent firmer springs. Plus low-profile 20-inch Pirelli P-ZERO run-flat rubber, wider in back, on forged M alloy wheels with huge cross-drilled carbon-ceramic brakes and gold calipers.

Even the M1 setting was firm enough for fun daily running, neatly buffered and not too soft as it handled bumps with quick but buffered rebound. But Sport tightened things up nicely but did not jar over bumps, and let its 4,345 pounds feel light and precise as it cornered as if on rails. There was no understeer in curves as xDrive shifted power where needed to pull us through – no body roll either. Tighter turns saw the rear-biased xDrive letting the tail power out a bit, so easy to catch and play with as we pulled 1G in corners. It went where pointed with no drama, feeling a bit of its weight but never playing it. We had a bit of wheel-hop hitting a bump in mid-turn, but our M5 shrugged it off and stayed on course. Steering was direct with good feel in Sport, and very precise in Sport . The lighter carbon ceramic brakes had quick bite early on, then solid, quick stops with no fade and no real nose dive, if a bit grabby at slower speeds. We saw 1.2Gs on full stop.

MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION

Some other BMWs are going through a design crisis with tall twin-kidney grills. But the 5-Series’ seventh-gen version of 2016, got some freshening for 2021, those twin grills still somewhat slim, extending deeper into the bumper. Glaring LED headlights bend into turns, with twin L-shaped DRLs. There’s an aggressive, deep lower intake over integrated air dam. M5 Competitions get black accents everywhere, and M Division’s signature carbon fiber roof. There’s a near-fastback rear window and short deck with slim black spoiler. In back, large LED taillights live over a gloss diffuser with black chrome quad exhaust pipes. It’s subtly aggressive, low and wide, but doesn’t stand out too much.

Inside, a luxurious dark-over light-gray leather-lined cabin with serious tech and color-changeable accent lighting over strips of buff carbon fiber with chrome edging. Leather with twin stitching outlines the dashtop’s gentle cowl framing a configurable 12.3-inch-wide digital gauge package with 200-mph speedometer and an 8,000-rpm tach. A navigation screen, or car info can be shown in between, while a sport mode contracts the tach and speedo to frame a speed display incorporating a small G-force meter.

The grippy M steering wheel has paddle shifters in back. Dash center is another 12.3-inch-wide stand-up screen for navigation, audio, seat massage settings and more, controlled by a familiar iDrive twist/tap/jog controller on the center console with main menu buttons. There’s Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, two USB ports up front and an inductive phone charger. But there’s more. And like Mercedes, it has an easy voice command: either say “Hey BMW” and ask it to work windows, adjust a/c, navigation, audio and. Or use gesture control. Long trips on winding roads were just fine in heavily-bolstered sport seats that heat, cool and offer massage settings, plus a very clear and powerful Bowers and Wilkins audio system. And friend can join the autobahn cruise with OK leg room and decent head room in back, plus a decent 14-square-foot trunk, which opens with a foot wave.

To play, a base 600-horsepower M5 with xDrive is $103,500; ours had the $7,600 Competition Package with 20-inch wheels and tires, sports exhaust, black trim, horsepower boost to 617-horsepower and suspension mods. It also had a $3,600 paint job; $3,500 full leather interior; $3,350 executive package with soft-close doors, rear sunshades, heated front and rear seats with front ventilation and massage; parking assist and surround-view camera; $1,000 gas guzzlers tax, and a bit more for an as-tested price of $139,645.

For more information about the MULTIPLE PERSONALITY: ‘21 BMW M5 COMPETITION and the latest performance-luxury M-models from BMW, please visit https://www.bmwusa.com/vehicles/m-models.html