2021 BMW 330e xDrive: Overview
2021 BMW 330e xDrive is the plug-in version within the rich model family of compact vehicles, namely 3 Series, 4 Series, X3 and X4. BMW 3 Series is arguably the best and the best-selling premium compact sedan worldwide. This model family is the backbone of BMW and has significantly grown with new variances in the last ten years. On the other hand, the automotive industry is undergoing a significant transformation. Electrification is the name of the game. The biggest challenge for traditional automakers like BMW is to move to an electrified feature at the right pace. And there are two strategies these companies need to and do apply.
On the one hand, the old manufacturers develop brand new vehicles with new platforms and architecture as BEVs. On the other hand, they have to offer electrified versions of existing models as hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions of current models with ICE are crucially essential to implement this transformation. Our tester, the BMW 330e, is a niche product for clients who want to get in touch with electrification without sacrificing the convenience of an internal combustion engine.
2021 BMW 330e xDrive: Engine and Powertrain
2021 BMW 330e xDrive has a two-litre 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed transmission and electric motor with 288 combined horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. This combination results in the typical BMW driving pleasure with the bonus of lower consumption. Depending on the circumstances, this car can go full electric up to 40 kilometers and even more under ideal conditions. A smooth driving in moderate weather in the city by utilizing the advantage of regenerative braking in stop-and-go will help you to maximize the advantage of driving a plug-in hybrid.
Behind the 2 liter turbocharged gasoline engine, there is a large electric motor that is paired with the transmission. Especially for drivers who have relatively short daily commutes, the all-electric range of the 330e should not be underestimated. Our tester was the all-wheel-drive version which costs $9000 more than the rear-wheel-drive version.
Unlike other hybrid vehicles, you can use the electric motor to accelerate all the way up to 140 kilometers, if it is fully charged. During our tests, we were able to do 0-100 around 11 seconds just with the electric engine, which is not the fastest but definitely good for daily driving. If you combine electric motor with gasoline engine, 0-100 time goes under 6 seconds, impressive result from a fuel efficient car.
2021 BMW 330e xDrive: Interior
2021 BMW 330e xDrive, like other BMWs, has a well-designed and well-crafted interior. You feel like being in a luxury car. It has been 30 years since I drove my first BMW 3 Series. The car, the dashboard, the instrumentation and all the controls are built around the driver. And it’s the same which the contemporary 3 series too. The digital, configurable gauge cluster looks complicated at first sight. However, you will easily get used to it. I loved to monitor the transition between gasoline and electric power, as well as regeneration through braking.
The infotainment system, with its I-Drive control, screen layout and resolution, became a gold standard. The seats are very comfortable in general. However, as our tester had, the seats in the M package may fall a bit too narrow for bigger types. The head and especially legroom in the rear is a bit tight, and to me, this car is perfect for a couple rather than a family. The difference in space between the 3 and bigger 5 Series is not big and could be a factor in choosing the 3 Series instead of going bigger.
One complaint people often say in recent years is the similarity of cockpits and interiors across the model series. to me personally, it is a good thing to have this high-quality and “Bimmerish” feature not only a 7 Series but also at more affordable models. However, it does not change the fact that it has some common parts used in other BMW models.
Some hybrid and electric vehicles have less amount of rear legroom or headroom as the battery is located either under or behind the rear seats. That’s not the case with the 330e, and it has a decent amount of overall rear passenger accommodation. The only real compromise the trunk space, as the battery is located under the trunk floor. Regular 330i comes with the largest trunk space in this segment, which is 17 cubic feet (481 lt). It goes down to 13.2 cubic feet (373 lt) of overall cargo space with the 330e. Considering there are non-hybrid models that have less cargo space than 330e, I think this is not a deal breaker.
2021 BMW 330e xDrive: Driving Impressions
For experienced and careful drivers, the extra weight the battery brings on the rear axle is helpful to optimize the weight distribution. And excellent handling. Anyway, BMW is about driving pleasure before anything else. And with the compact three serious, this feature is even more critical. I enjoyed driving the BMW 330e. Do a transition from battery to gasoline powers is seamless. The acceleration is superb, and you never have the feeling of underpowered. The relatively small 12 kWh battery can be recharged quite quickly. with a regular 1120V outlet at home, it takes nearly 11 hours, which is no longer than an overnight charging time. If you use a 220V outlet, it lasts less than three hours.
One downside of this combination is the small gasoline tank of 40 litres. We as AutoAndRoad had two different test drives with two drivers. I reached an average of 7 litres after a one-time full charge followed by mixed-mode driving and utilizing the regenerative charging only. Dan, my colleague charged the vehicle every evening at home and reached an average of very impressive 4.5 litres. So, your drive cycle, range of daily commute and ability to charge daily will make a significant difference.
If you are driving a lot of stop & go traffic or within 40-km radius, you would save a lot of gas by just charging the 330e. However, if you are putting a lot of miles on the highway, 330e has to deal with additional weight of the battery pack and electric motor which is a significant disadvantage over the regular 330i. Although you would get better fuel economy numbers, as it has a battery located in the back, BMW decided to put smaller gas tank, means you don’t really have more range with the plug-in hybrid version.
2021 BMW 330e xDrive: Pricing and Equipment
2021 BMW 330e xDrive is the most affordable car of the 3 Series. For details of pricing and equipment, please see the window sticker of our tester below:
BMW 330e xDrive: Conclusion
3-Series has been the gold standard of the premium compact sedan segment for the last 40 years, and the latest generation 330e is no exception. This is the second generation that BMW uses plug-in hybrid technology, and they definitely fine-tuned it over the last generation. Compared to the previous generation (F30), it offers more power and more range with the electric motor. With both generations, BMW has been proving that electric/hybrid vehicles don’t have to be boring and ugly, it can still combine great design and top-notch driving dynamics.
The BMW 330e xDrive is a reasonably affordable car by BMW standards. The 330e is also eligible for Canada’s C$ 2,500 federal government rebate. Plated as a green vehicle, you can use the HOV lanes on Ontario highways if you drive solo. It combines the typical BMW driving pleasure with a moderate version of environmental consciousness. With careful driving and selecting an appropriate driving mode, you can fully exploit this combination’s fuel economy.
For more detailed information, please visit: http://www.bmw.ca
Article by Varol McKars and Dan Gunay
Photos by: Varol McKars, Dan Gunay