BMW 330e iPerformance hybrid (2016-2018) - Engines, drive & performance

The 330e drives like any other 3 Series – and that’s a good thing

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BMW’s iPerformance tag ties the 330e in with the BMW i3 and BMW i8 electrified cars, the latter of which is a true eco supercar. The 330e is overshadowed in the 3 Series range by the more powerful 340i and the very quick 330d and 335d diesel models for outright performance, but the 330e’s electric assistance gives it unique appeal.

In every other respect, the 330e iPerformance drives like any other 3 Series, which is to say superbly. The steering is accurate, you feel involved and engaged when driving on a country road and never seem close to running out of grip. M Sport models are more firmly set up than SE and Sport cars, and have a slightly less restful ride, but even more resistance to body lean. Although even the comfortably sprung SE feels perfectly stable in corners.

BMW 330e hybrid engine

The 330e iPerformance uses the same 2.0-litre, twin-turbocharged petrol engine as the 330i M Sport, but adds an electric motor to the eight-speed automatic gearbox. A total of 248bhp is available when both motors work as one and a 6.1-second 0-62mph time is possible. If asked to, the electric motor is able to take the 330e to 74mph on its own, which maximises its practicality around town.

Electric motors can generate full power as soon as they start turning, which means that full electric acceleration is on hand as soon as you put your foot down. This means the electric motor fills in for the petrol engine while the latter girds its loins – turbocharged engines always have a slight lag before they can deliver all their power. The 330e therefore feels far quicker than other 3 Series models when you pull away, even if more powerful models soon catch up and overtake.

The electric motor is always on hand, ready to supply extra power when necessary – when overtaking, for example, the petrol engine alone may not yet be ‘in its stride’, so the plug-in hybrid system provides a helpful boost to get things going. The one thing the electric can’t change is the petrol engine’s sound, which isn’t as stimulating as that from more powerful six-cylinder models like the 340i. It’s quiet, though, and unobtrusive at cruising speeds.

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