Three years ago BMW positioned the 330e as the plug-in you wouldn’t have to wait for—in one very memorable ad that showed an owner skipping past empty Superchargers for a 330e and zooming off on engine power.
We know how that ended up. The Tesla Model 3 did arrive, and it’s outsold all versions of the 3-Series combined for more than a year. And while a fully electric i4 sedan remains on the way for 2022 or so, BMW is giving its plug-in hybrids like the 330e a new push, with more electric range and in some cases more power.
Now as part of the new G20-generation 3-Series sport sedan, BMW has also revamped the plug-in hybrid version. Again badged the 330e, it goes on sale in Europe this week.
One of the most noteworthy changes is a much larger battery pack—now 12.0 kwh, with 10.4 kwh of usable capacity, versus 7.2 kwh and about 6 kwh of usable capacity in the former plug-in hybrid.
2020 BMW 330e
The 2020 330e hasn't yet been rated for range and fuel economy in the U.S., however BMW claims that the model’s electric-only range has been boosted by more than 50 percent versus the previous model, which was rated at 14 all-electric miles. Efficiency has improved, too, from a former 30 mpg combined.
The 330e now comes with a 184-horsepower version of BMW’s 2.0-liter turbo-5, paired with a 113-hp electric motor system that’s fitted (and clutched) between the engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission.
Total system output is up, to 292 hp and 310 pound-feet of torque. The 330e can get to 62 mph in 5.9 seconds, and to a top speed of 143 mph.
Normally the peak system power is 252 hp, but selecting Sport mode and giving the accelerator “a vigorous stomp” enables the full 292 hp for up to 10 seconds at a time.
That’s part of a new XtraBoost mode, which ramps up the response of the electric motor and transmission, with stronger steering weighting and supplemental engine sounds piped in through the cabin sound-system speakers.
Even during electric driving, the speakers generate what the company describes as “an unmistakable sound created specifically for electrified BMWs.”
2020 BMW 330e
Hybrid mode allows all-electric motoring at up to 68 mph, while Electric mode lets you go all the way up to 87 mph without the gasoline engine starting.
The model now also has a Predictive hybrid mode that allows you to leave those decisions to the car—which looks at your route ahead, provided you’re using the in-dash navigation system. And a feature in the 330e allows it (in the near future) to use geofencing to recognize low-emission zones, such as inner-city areas restricted to plug-ins.
The 330e has resistive heating, so that the car can be preconditioned without the engine starting and while it’s still hooked up to the charger
BMW notes that the cargo-carrying ability of the 3-Series plug-in is “only slightly reduced” by the battery, which is mounted under the back seat. The 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks do flip forward to allow more space.
The company hasn't lost sight of its environmental priorities. The total full-cycle carbon footprint of the 330e—including raw materials, manufacturing, and recycling—is 20 percent lower than that of the previous model.
We've reached out to BMW for an update on this model's estimated U.S. arrival date and positioning—if, this time, this is the plug-in model you'd like to wait for.