Equipped with the company’s latest eDrive plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle technology, the new ’21 BMW 330e delivers more electric driving range and improved performance over the previous-generation 3-Series PHEV.
A turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. makes 181 hp between 3,800-6,500 rpm and 258 lb.-ft. (350 Nm) of torque between 1,450-3,600 rpm. It works with an electric traction motor developing 107 hp (80 kW) at 3,170 rpm and 77 lb.-ft. (104 Nm) of torque from 0-3,140 rpm. The combined output is 288 hp and 310 lb.-ft. (420 Nm) when the new Xtra Boost system is active.
BMW Xtra Boost activates when the ’21 330e is in its Sport driving mode and the driver depresses the accelerator far enough to initiate a transmission kick-down, such as when passing slower traffic or accelerating to merge onto a freeway. It adds 40 hp for up to 10 seconds.
An 8-speed sport automatic transmission powers the new 330e’s rear wheels. Choose the available xDrive all-wheel-drive system, and power still flows to the rear wheels until surface or driving conditions require transfer to the front wheels. BMW says xDrive is a fully variable system, maximizing traction in a variety of situations.
The ’21 330e’s sport automatic transmission features an improved hydraulic control system and shorter gearing for better responsiveness and acceleration. The automaker claims the 330e will accelerate to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.6 seconds, while the 330e xDrive requires 5.7 seconds. The previous 3-Series PHEV, the 330e iPerformance, required 5.9 seconds to make the same sprint.
Networked with the optional adaptive cruise control system, the transmission employs data from the standard navigation system to adapt its shift strategy depending on the route and driving situation (interior pictured below).
In advance of required braking, it can downshift to add engine braking that helps extend battery life. When driving the car aggressively, it can hold gears longer in corners.
A 12-kWh (9-kWh net) lithium-ion battery resides under the back seat and a portion of the trunk (pictured below), reducing cargo capacity from 17 cu.-ft. (481 L) to 13.2 cu.-ft. (374 L). It supplies 22 miles (35 km) of estimated driving range (20 miles [32 km] for the 330e xDrive), an improvement of 8 miles (13 km) over the previous 330e iPerformance.
Given the limited range, it won’t take long to recharge the 3-Series PHEV. In addition to 120V and 240V home charging compatibility, BMW is working on a simple and easy service that allows owners to find a public charging station, activate charging, and pay for the electricity.
When maximum performance is undesirable, owners can run the ’21 330e in Hybrid or Electric mode. In Hybrid mode, the car can operate on nothing but electricity up to 68 mph (109 km/h). In Electric mode, the car’s top speed is 87 mph (140 km/h). BMW estimates the 330e will earn a rating of 75 mpg-e (67 mpg-e with xDrive).
Aside from a charging port door on the front left fender, the new BMW 330e looks just like the standard 330i. The ’21 330e comes only with Sport Line or M Sport trim, and with 18-in. or 19-in. aluminum alloy wheels. The greenest color choice is Blue Ridge Mountain Metallic.
Similarly, the new 330e is offered with the same iDrive infotainment system and advanced driving assistance systems that are available on other 3-Series models. Standard equipment includes BMW’s Active Guard collection of ADAS, including forward collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.
The optional Driving Assistance Professional Package uses a tri-focal camera and a radar unit to provide ACC with stop-and-go capability. The system will resume travel if the 330e is stopped for up to 30 seconds, after which time the driver will need to provide a manual prompt to re-engage the cruise control.
Additionally, the package includes semi-autonomous Extended Traffic Jam Assist technology that works at speeds up to 37 mph (60 km/h) and an Emergency Stop Assistant that can bring the car to a safe stop should the driver suffer a medical emergency.
A Parking Assistance Package expands on the ’21 330e’s semi-autonomous capabilities, taking full control of the vehicle when a driver uses it to park in a parallel or perpendicular space.
The Back-up Assistant can exactly re-trace the car’s previous forward path for up to 50 yards (45.7 meters) in reverse in order to extract the 3-Series PHEV from tight parking situations.
Additional technology features include BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant natural voice recognition and BMW Digital Key, which transforms NFC-compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones running Android 8.0 or higher into the vehicle’s key. Using the device, owners can unlock, start and re-lock the car using a smartphone with service through specific carriers.
Including the $995 destination charge, ’21 BMW 330e prices start at $45,545 ($47,545 for xDrive). The new plug-in arrives at BMW dealers in May.