In the face of a market hungry for luxury-branded crossovers and SUVs, BMW remains mercifully steadfast in their production of honest-to-güte sedans. The venerable 3-Series has seemingly been around since the birth of Oktoberfest and was recently revised into the zenith of plushness for the 2020 model year. Now, the mavens in Munich have added a plug-in hybrid version to the range.
Under the hood of this PHEV is a 2.0L turbocharged engine developing 181 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque, the latter of which comes online by 1450 rpm. This gas burner is complemented by an electric traction motor developing 107 ponies and 77 lb.-ft of torque. As is the case with just about any electric motor, all of that twist is available right from the get go, meaning it can fill in the blanks while tootling around town. Combined power output is 288 horses and 310 lb.-ft of twist.
Customers can select from rear- or all-wheel drive, the latter earning its xDrive wings on the trunklid. All models receive a 12 kWh gross (9.09 kWh net) lithium-ion battery slung under the rear seats to provide storage capacity for electric-only and, according to BMW, “performance oriented” driving.
Helping with the latter is the inclusion of a feature called XtraBoost. In addition to sounding like a bass feature on a CD player from the ‘90s, it apparently enhances power and performance when the throttle is depressed past the kick-down position. Available in the car’s Sport mode, XtraBoost is described as offering an immediate 40 horsepower power increase for up to 10 seconds. Toretto better watch his back.
The 330e sedan’s electrified powertrain is good for a run to highway speed from rest in just 5.6 seconds. Add 0.1 second if your 330e is fitted with all-wheel drive. This new 3er can travel up to 35 kilometres on battery power alone and can do so at speeds up to 140km/h. This will require the engagement of Electric mode; in Hybrid mode, the 330e is good for approximately 110km/h on electrons only.
All this is funnelled to the pavement through an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, fettled a bit for the 2021 model year. Worth noting is the gearbox’s ability to tap into the navigation system, adapting its shift strategy based on route and driving situation. The 330e comes with all manner of active driving aids, like collision mitigation, and the transmission can work in concert with these tools as well to downshift for engine braking if it senses impending doom, for example. Smart stuff.
Pricing starts at $44,950 for a rear-wheel drive 330e and $54,000 for the all-wheel drive version. Start of production is scheduled for April 2020 with the first cars due to land on our shores in May. Savvy readers might notice that the rear-drive 330e starts just under the $45,000 mark, meaning it will qualify for the Federal EV incentive.