With BMW's plug-in hybrid petrol/electric 330e iPerformance model, the conventional 320i variant's 184bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine has been matched with an 80kW electric motor to create quite a package.
The 330e iPerformance Plug-in hybrid replaces the old ActiveHybrid3 model, the main difference between the two cars found when it comes to measurement of all-electric driving range. This was negligible in the ActiveHybrid3 but in a 330e, BMW clams up to 21 miles of zero emissions motoring from a fully-charged set of batteries. In other words, if you've a pretty typical daily commute, you might never have to fuel up this car to complete it.
As you might expect, this kind of cleverness comes courtesy of a very advanced powerplant indeed, in this case a combination of the 184bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit from the 320i mated to an 80kW electric motor. These two elements create a combined output of 264bhp and a combined maximum torque figure of 420Nm, good enough when you switch into full engine mode to send this car to 62mph in 6.1s on the way to 140mph. The all-electric top speed is 74mph. Drive meets the tarmac via an 8-speed auto gearbox.
This isn't the kind of Plug-in hybrid model you'll buy if you want to make an eco-statement. Unless you really know your BMWs, there's almost nothing to visually differentiate a 330e from any other 3 Series saloon. And like other 3 Series saloon models, it benefits from a package of aesthetic revisions introduced in mid-2015. The idea of these was to make the car look wider and lower than before, so BMW revised the front and rear bumper assemblies with broader horizontal elements. The headlights feature LED indicators acting as eyebrows across the top of the light units. At the rear, the tail lamps are full-LED units with heavily curved light bars.
The cabin looks predictably smart, with chrome finishing and high-gloss surfaces. Practicality has been improved with cup holders in the centre console that feature a sliding cover and an additional practical storage area for items such as a smartphone, positioned forward of the cup holders. There's a respectable amount of rear legroom for what remains a manageably-sized car. The saloon's luggage bay is smaller than other four-door 3 Series models, measuring 370-litres.
BMW has at last brought us a hybrid 3 Series model that makes real world sense. The old 'Active Hybrid 3' model never did, with its high price and tiny all-electric driving range. Fortunately, technology has moved on and this 330e demonstrates just how far.
If you were thinking of a high-spec diesel-engined version of this Bavarian model, we think you really have to look at a 330e as a realistic alternative. The long waiting lists for this variant suggest that many potential customers are.Click here to find out more about our BMW 330e iPerformance range