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2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid Review By Larry Nutson

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

...the 2016 BMW 330e is not a boring plug-in hybrid.

2016 BMW 330e

Review By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

BMW bills itself as the Ultimate Driving Machine and this year marks its 100th anniversary. Moving towards the next 100 years, BMW is making some strategic changes in their product offerings.

Along with the BMW vehicle range they are even working on home batteries that store solar power. Some say that BMW is the best-suited brand to compete with Tesla.

You are perhaps familiar with the BMW i3 and i8 that hit the U.S. market in 2015. The BMW iSeries of vehicles are aimed to fulfill the ultimate in driving for the electric vehicle niche.

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

The new for 2016 BMW 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid offers typical BMW luxury and sport sedan performance combined with energy efficient low-speed city driving. The 330e became available in summer 2016 at dealers priced starting at $44,695, including the $995 shipping charge.

The 330e is one more offering in the BMW 3-series model range. However, don’t think of the 330e as a competitor to the Toyota Prius. Yes both are four-door sedans but each is aimed to satisfy very different needs and wants.

The gasoline engine in the BMW 330e iPerformance is the same 180HP four-cylinder twin turbo fitted to the 320i. The 87hp electric motor with a maximum peak torque of 184 lb-ft and the power electronics are derived directly from the BMW eDrive technology featured as standard in the BMW i3 and BMW i8 models.

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

The BMW 330e iPerformance has a total drive-train output of 248 HP and peak torque of 310 lb-ft. BMW says if will go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 140 mph. Pure-electric driving is possible at speeds of up to 75 mph and with a range of around 14 miles.

The combined gasoline engine and electric motor drive the rear wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission with shift paddles. The electric motor takes the place of the torque converter.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings are 72MPGe for combined electric and gasoline operation and 31mpg combined for gasoline only. I took the 330e on a road trip of about 130 miles each way comprised mostly of driving at highway speeds in the 70+mph range. I got 38mpg driving in the gasoline engine only mode.

For comparison, the 180 HP BMW 320i has a combined EPA test-cycle fuel economy rating of 28mpg and the 240HP 328i has a combined EPA test-cycle rating of 27mpg.

From a driving performance perspective the 328i is most comparable to the 330e. The 328i has an EPA highway rating of 35 mpg. Compare that to the 38mpg I achieved with the 330e.

Around town in the city you start off in pure electric driving and stay in that mode with moderate pedal applications. At a stop the gasoline engine always turns off and restarts smoothly within a short distance of driving on electric power only. I didn’t do any close monitoring of city fuel consumption. However, I saw numbers around 21 mpg compared to mpg numbers in the low teens from my experience with the 328i.

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

And of course we should be looking at cost per mile to drive. The 330e has lower fuel consumption but costs $5350 more than the 328i ($44,695 v. $39,345). With today’s low gasoline prices here in the U.S. there’s not much incentive to purchase anything other than a traditional gasoline engine powered vehicle. But, for how long will we have these low fuel costs.

For 2017 BMW made a few updates to the 330e with new blue kidney grills when ordered with white, black, gray or silver colors. There are new blue circles around the BMW Roundel on the wheels. New “i” badging is behind the front fender but will be deleted with ZMP M Sport Package.

My 330e media-loan test car was equipped with a number of options including two driver assistance packages. Equipped on the 330e were a rear view camera, park distance control, blind spot detection, active driver assistant and a side and top view camera. I strongly encourage all new vehicle buyers to consider the benefit of the driver assistance safety technology that is available on the market today. It can save you from an accidental collision, injury and great expense.

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

The head-up display as well as the navigation system both proved helpful in negotiating unfamiliar places and helping to keep eyes ahead. Options add up quickly, and the 330e test car had a bottom line of $60,425. Of course you get lots of really nice luxury features for that.

What I liked about the 330e is that it looks and drives just like anyone of its other sibling 3-series sedans. Acceleration, corning, braking, steering, seat comfort are all to my liking. It’s very much the BMW that fans of the 3-series are familiar with. The weight distribution remains 50/50 and the batteries are located under the trunk and don’t take away space like on most hybrids. Battery recharging is in about 2 hours from the front fender port.

2016 BMW 330e iPerformance Plug-in Hybrid (select to view enlarged photo)

Take a look at for more information direct from the horse's mouth and you can find all BMW 3 series specs, safety, comparisons and prices in the yellow box below my review.

Would I recommend and/or buy the 330e v. one of the other 3-series sedan. Well, if you need BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive that would rule the 330e out, although good winter tires can do wonders in moderate snowfall areas. If you do lots of city driving and plan on keeping a car for at least five years the 330e might work out in dollars invested with decent ROI.

It’s something to think about, as we look into our crystal ball to figure out where the price of gasoline will go.

But one thing is for sure, the BMW 330e is not a boring hybrid.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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