Car review – BMW 330e

A manager's dream

The 320d has always been the top pick for many a manager, but with the new generation 3 Series, it may very well be the plug-in hybrid 330e that ascends the Fleet throne.


Exit diesel, enter plug-in

Now that BMW is offering various plug-in hybrid models in the 3-Series line-up (next to the 330e there is also the 320e), the diesel empire seems definitely over. Thanks to the 330e's optimum tax regime and lower consumption, the price supplement of €10,900 over the 320d is easily offset if you look at things from a Total Cost of Ownership perspective. 


Power station

With 190 hp and 400 Nm, the 320d is no match for the 330e in terms of power and performance. The latter combines a 184 hp and 300 Nm two-litre petrol engine with a gearbox-integrated 68 hp electric motor, which can boost its power temporarily to 113 hp. The total system output equals 293 hp and 420 Nm. A manual gearbox is not available, but that's not a problem when you know that the 8-speed ZF unit is a fantastic companion.

The performance of the 330e is remarkable. It accelerates to 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds (6.8 seconds for the 320d) and reaches a top speed of 230 km/h. It goes almost as vigorously as a sports car, were it not for the fact that the nearly 300 additional kilos of the 12 kWh battery (1,740 kg total weight) drag the car down, without however spoiling the fine balance and pleasant steering. 


Saloon or estate

BMW offers the 330e as a saloon and as an estate car. It is this second version that is sold the most, which is not surprising when you know that the boot of the four-door model is limited to 375 litres due to the battery. In the front both models are more than roomy enough, but in the rear the 3-Series is not exactly a palace, neither as a saloon nor as a Touring. 

Jekyll and Hyde

If you adopt a relaxed driving style, this 3-Series is very quiet. When the four-cylinder engine springs into action, you can hear it, but it is never unpleasant. In Sport mode, when the overboost function releases a few extra horsepower, this quiet business car turns into a sporty saloon by reacting significantly faster to steering and throttle inputs, while the sound of the four-cylinder is agreeably amplified in the interior through the speakers.

The 330e is a fun, fast and also economical car that can tell a favourable financial story if you do the full TCO calculation. The 320d is no longer the dream of the manager with a decent budget. The 330e will gladly take its place.

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    + Low consumption possible

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    + Performance and driving pleasure

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    + Tax advantages

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    - Purchase price - Small boot (saloon)