Pricing for the BMW 330e starts at $44,950 in Canada, $44,550 in the US.
The BMW 330e is the PHEV version of the BMW 3 Series.
It’s also the most affordable 3 Series version in Canada.
This is the premise behind this brief review: You want a BMW 3 Series. For decades, the BMW 3 Series, and its predecessor, the 2002, stood head and shoulders above the competition. It was the entry-level luxury sports sedan for driving enthusiasts and its reputation precedes it to this day. In a strange twist, the plug-in hybrid 330e version is the first step into the model range.
There’s no wrong answer when it comes to selecting a BMW 3 Series. It remains one of the best-driving cars in a segment that is packed with alternatives from other German brands, not to mention the Koreans, Japanese, and Americans. For the moment, however, there are no other plug-in hybrid offerings in the segment which makes the 330e unique.
Is the fact that it is alone in the game make it a more attractive option? What about the bit where the 330e happens to be the least expensive version of the BMW 3 Series in Canada? Should you then consider it as the way to get your first luxury sports sedan?
Let’s take a few moments together and see if you should, or not, buy one.
Why you should buy a 2021 BMW 330e:
Dynamically-speaking, it is the only way to order a RWD 3 Series in Canada.
AWD is available and retains its rear-wheel bias for real driving fun, even in the snow.
With 288-system horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque, it’s more powerful than the 330i.
The weight of the batteries won’t make it faster but you will get up to 35km of electric range.
Based on driving conditions and the battery’s charge, the 330e is far more fuel-efficient.
The 330e is as rewarding to drive hard as a 330i. It offers sharp reflexes, responsive steering, and powerful brakes.
The cabin’s focus on the driver is evident with its tailor-made driving position.
Fit, finish, and materials are truly luxurious and top-notch.
Why you should not buy a 2021 BMW 330e:
PHEVs as a whole are only useful in the real world if your commute distance hovers near the electric range, and that it can be plugged in at every opportunity.
The actual range varies considerably. I never managed more than an indicated 25km of EV range.
The 330e xDrive is 450lbs heavier than the 330i xDrive which affects driving dynamics. It also impacts the fuel-economy when the battery is depleted.
The battery’s position in the truck eats up valuable storage space.
The 3 Series, generally-speaking, is unforgiving. There’s precious little compliance in the chassis’ dampening and the seats are hard.
The 3’s interior space is on the snug side compared to some of its competitors.
It’s actually easy to fault the plug-in hybrid BMW 330e. With the sole exception of pricing for the base RWD version, the regular 330i is a more logical option, especially if AWD is on your must-have list of features. Price-wise, the “base” 330i xDrive is priced from $49,350 compared to the 330e xDrive’s retail price of $54,000.
In the real world, the 330i will deliver consistently decent fuel efficiency. In fact, it is nearly inconceivable to think that the “e” will ever be sufficiently frugal to make up for the difference in price over a reasonable period of time. The odds are the car will be leased so unless there’s a significant discount (and incentives) on the 330e, it’s not worth it.
Now, among the many fish in this segment, namely the Audi A4, Cadillac CT4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, and Lexus IS, here’s a hint: Forget about the Japanese and the Jag offerings. All the others provide interesting arguments in their favour – they really are all that interesting.
And here’s a bit of useless advice from yours truly: Only two have station wagon alternatives, one of which is the Benz C-Class, and they are the best ones. There was once a BMW 3 Series wagon…