2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 - First Drive Review by Henny Hemmes +VIDEO
Top of the line
By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
• SEE ALSO: BMW Buyers Guide
MUNICH, Germany - July 6, 2012: At the same time BMW lifted the cover of the new 3 Series (F30), it was announced that the top ‘Dreier' would be the ActivHybrid 3. This model will hit the market in the autumn of 2012 and is the fourth hybrid of the Bavarian manufacturer after the X6, 7-, 5- and 3 Series. All hybrids are dubbed ActiveHybrid since BMW wants to underline its hybrid models are ‘active’, or in other words: FUN TO DRIVE.
BMW has learned since developing the 2009ActiveHybrid X6, which was a joint venture development with Chrysler, Daimler and GM - and which was discontinued in early 2011. While the hybrid model of the luxury 7 Series was an in-house developed mild hybrid variant, the 5 Series version became a serious hybrid model.
It’s little wonder that the new 3 Series sports the very same drive line, which consist of the well-known turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 engine, producing 225 kW/306 hp and 295 lb-ft. The power plant is assisted by a 40 kW/55 hp synchronous electric motor that has taken the place of the torque converter in the front section of the housing of the 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. The combined output is 340 hp and 322 ft-lb of torque, resulting in the ActiveHybrid3 being the fastest 3 Series model, accelerating in 5.3 seconds from 0-62 mph, reaching a top speed of 155 mph. The ActiveHybrid3 weighs 3648 pounds, slightly under 300 pounds less than the 335i. Average fuel consumption (EU test cycle) is 5.9 liter/100 km which translates into 39.9 mpg. CO2-emission is 139 g/km.
Watch TACH's exclusive ActiveHybrid 3 promo video
Since the new 3 Series was designed with a hybrid model already in the planning, there is room for the lithium-ion battery pack underneath the boot. It is encased in a special housing between the wheel arches in the boot. Thanks to this position and contrary to the Hybrid 5 Series, the ActiveHybrid 3 offers a luggage compartment as well as the possibility to fold the back rest of the rear seat 40:20:40 for transporting longer goods.
Our hybrid drive started on the Autobahn, where acceleration is really fast. On the stretches with a speed limit (indeed they are there as well) we coasted in electric mode, which is possible up to 100 mph. When the system ‘switches off’ the 6-cylinder, you hardly notice it. It is hard to put your finger on it. Maybe it’s because engine sound hardly reaches the cabin. We are used to BMW’s start-stop function to work so well that you do not even think about it anymore.
The hybrid 3 Series behaves well on the Bavarian country roads and with a lot of torque available you easily forget that the word Hybrid marks the sides and rear of the body. But a look at the instrument panel makes you aware of the special drive line: in the lower left of the rev counter you can see whether the car is ‘ready’ to drive in electric mode, thus having enough energy stored in the battery pack. In the bottom of the display you see if the system is charging or if you are driving in eMode.
The intelligent energy management is linked to the optional navigation system Professional and provides specific information in the instrument panel and control display. So we can see fuel consumption history of the last 15 minutes of driving. We looked at the latter part of our test drive, when we were in quite a hurry to get back in time and saw the peak in fuel consumption, but also that the electric motor delivered a share of some 10 percent.
The ActiveHybrid3 also gets the world premiere of BMW’s innovation of proactive energy management. This allows the powertrain to operate at maximum efficiency by proactive analysis of the driving situation. For instance when there is a stretch of road that is straight, the powertrain prepares itself in advance to go into coasting mode and the available energy is divided over the route ahead.
Driving all electric is possible for 2.5 miles or up to 37 mph. BMW claims that in the Eco Pro mode, the range of the hybrid ‘3’ can be extended with a maximum of 29 miles. With excellent active steering, the brilliant automatic transmission that shifts effortlessly through its 8 gears, lots of torque, plus the possibility to drive in a ‘clever’ and fuel efficient way, the new ActiveHybrid 3 offers indeed much driving fun. And, also important in this case, it enhances a ‘green’ image of the owner. The hybrid 3 Series will be especially attractive to customers in North America, Japan and Asia, markets where cars with a gasoline engine are popular.
In Europe the HybridActive 3 will be available at a price that is some three thousand Euros higher than that of the 335i, but you’ll have to take into account its standard equipment includes 2-zone climate control, navigation system Professional and the 8-speed automatic transmission, which all are optional on the 335i. The hybrid 3 Series will be available in the Sport, Luxury and Modern Line as well as the M Sport Line.
In the US, the MSRP of the 2013 ActiveHybrid3 starts at $ 49,300. It will arrive at BMW dealerships in the fall.