PULL QUOTE: “The car is a hybrid, much along the lines of the company’s i3, (just not as outlandish looking).”
“It’s a car so nice, you’ll do everything twice!” is my favorite thing to say when I get passengers in any BMW product I happen to be driving; not only because it is a good memory-hook that will help enhance their whole Bavarian luxury experience, but also I find it a hilarious phrase and I love saying it.
There is staunch, Teutonic reasoning behind my bizarre little joke, though, my friends; so don’t just flip the page out of annoyance – for you see, the 2017 BMW 330e requires you to pull the door-release twice before it will open, and also the shutoff button to power down the engine requires a double-poke before it is truly-and-for-really “off”.
And now what I have done is give away the whole story in the first two paragraphs, because that is pretty much the only major problem I have had with my Bimmer loaner.
I was fortunate to be able to grab hold of 330e a couple of weeks back – got an optioned-up model with all the necessary extras in it while I was in Ontario for the Car of the Year tests at Mosport – and came away satisfied enough with the whole experience in BMW’s plug-in 3 Series.
The car is a hybrid, much along the lines of the company’s i3, (just not as outlandish looking) with a lithium-ion battery pack that supplements the gasoline engine to allow it to achieve extremely good fuel economy. As with more conventional hybrid vehicles, the battery recharges from the engine (and regenerative braking), but can also be plugged into household current to recharge faster.
In case anyone was wondering, it will also run strictly on the gasoline engine should you run down the charge and not have an opportunity to plug it in; and when fully juiced can operate in strictly electric mode at moderate speeds.
The powertrain’s combination of four-cylinder engine and electric motor delivers suitably BMW-caliber performance, boasting up to 252 horses and 310 lb.-ft of torque, it gets me up to highway speed briskly and quietly.
Naturally, it also does so economically – the fuel economy is stated to be a ridiculously low 3.3L/100 km (and even after running the charge down, I seem to be still getting around five), which is great, as I am putting a lot of miles on it – I got a tour of the city of Peterborough, shepherded by a friend in the area.
Hybrid efficiency aside, the 330e is as fun to drive as any member of the 3-series family, and every bit as pleasant to sit inside. My test model was loaded up with the Premium Package option, fleshing out the creature comforts with a great driver’s seat (with excellent lumbar support) and a heated steering wheel. Heated steering is one of those things that sounds so bourgeois when you first hear of it, but once you’ve had a car with the feature on a cold Ontario morning, you will want it in every car.
Fortunately, the 330e also has a navigation system (because I have no idea where I am when in Ontario, and would easily get lost and no one would ever see me or the car again), and another favorite thing of mine: a heads-up information display.
All the vital info appears in a projection just above the hoodline; a digital speed display, local speed limit (also very handy) and directions from the navigation module are presented in an easy-read fashion.
A backup camera and surround-view display appear on the center-dash screen, blind-spot monitors and parking sensors add to the safety and ease of use; and my tunes fill the cabin from an upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system (also part of the Premium package enhancement).
Taken altogether, there is little to dislike in a vehicle that brings together the slick and powerful driving manners of BMW’s mainstay brand, and puts a suite of technology and economical operation behind the cachet of the badge.
Except for the part where you have to push the starter button twice to shut it down, and double-pull the door release to get out, but we’ve already covered that.
Expect premium car pricing, of course, when you are shopping BMW sedans, but even then the 330e isn’t out of place in its segment – particularly if you live somewhere where there are rebates/incentives for buying a hybrid.
This one, building on a starting MSRP in the low fifties, came to $61,250 after the addition of Premium package, Driver Assistance technologies and Smartphone Connectivity option.