As the automotive market continues its rapid shift, there are people who don't wish to jump into the future, but don't want to be left behind. They see the impending move to electrification, but are unsure that's the direction they want to go for various reasons. An all-electric vehicle (EV) may not fit their lifestyle or personal tastes.
The 2023 BMW 330e iPerformance M Sport is the car for those sitting on the EV fence. The plug-in hybrid gives owners the opportunity to dip their feet into the EV pool, while still enjoying the traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) in a sedan.
On the outside the 330e looks like its regular sedan brothers, from a distance. It's still a sharp, modern design from any angle, using both old and new BMW design cues. The iconic kidney grille is updated to be flanked by LED lighting. On the profile, a new muscular lower crease flows along with the roof lines to the other BMW iconic design signature, the Hofmeister kink on the C-pillar. The only signal that this car is partially motivated by electrons are the slightly blue tones on its badging and the extra access flap on its front left fender. Other than that, normalcy that won't scare buyers away.
The interior is much the same. There's precious little to say that this car is a plug-in hybrid. From front to back, roof to floor, it's 3 Series sedan as usual. Occupants are surrounded by the technology, premium materials, fit and finish from a modern German luxury car. Dominating the space is the BMW Curved Display giving razor sharp instrumentation and a touchscreen for convenience. There are still physical buttons, such as the iDrive Controller, for the major functions; however, most can be set to operate automatically and forgotten.
Additionally, the plethora of powered functions complement the sensation of luxury. There's plenty space and storage for passengers and the refined cabin makes it a pleasant place to be to enjoy the Harman Kardon stereo and the ambient lighting at night. Again, the only clues to a partially electric drivetrain are subtle blue accents, minor control options, and instrumentation shown in the display.
ON THE ROAD
Driving the 330e feels no more different than its petrol-powered siblings. Having been around since 2016, the car and its technology have changed from model year to model year. The biggest alteration this time around is the interaction. The previous generation of 330e had a sportier edge to its plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The faster you drove, the faster it charged and the driver had more control over the EV portion of the car. Not this time round.
The 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder still delivers 181bhp and 221lb/ft of torque by itself. The electric motor has up to 111bph and 195lb/ft of instant torque, but because of how things work, the combined power output is 249bhp and 310lb/ft. The 330e can drive up to 41 miles on electric power alone. It does all this stuff automatically, charging as it pleases, more focused on having the vehicle externally charged via the plug-in port.
For those who drive regularly within the 330e all-electric range it is a godsend. It will function invisibly, requiring under four hours of home charging per night, if any at all. The gasoline motor is more to stave off range anxiety that generally stops full EV adoption. It's still a fun, sporty premium sedan, but it no longer makes efficiency a fun game. Get in, drive off, and don't worry about the EV future, says this car.