- Peppy acceleration
- Up to 14 miles of all-electric range
- Less nimble than the standard 3 Series
- Not all that efficient in hybrid mode
BMW 3-Series Plug-in Expert Review
New for 2017
The BMW 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is mildly updated for the 2017 model year after its debut in 2016. Sporting rear-drive only, the 2017 330e differentiates itself from the other iPerformance models (the X5 xDrive40e and 740e), which are all-wheel drive only. With a 7.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the 2017 330e promises up to 14 miles of all-electric range at speeds of up to 75 mph, per the EPA.
Also new for 2017 are blue-colored grille trim accents at the nose, blue surrounds for the BMW roundels on the wheels, new "i" badging on the front fenders, a new exclusive wheel option, and an upgrade to the iDrive 5.0 infotainment system.
The 2017 BMW 330e iPerformance is one of a myriad of offerings in the BMW 3 Series lineup. Designed as the highest-efficiency 3 Series model, the new 330e is part of BMW's new iPerformance range, which includes the X5 xDrive40e and 740e.
BMW's plug-in hybrid 3 Series, the 2017 330e iPerformance, blazes a new path forward for BMW, extending its efforts to maximize efficiency while maintaining the core ethos of BMW's driver-focused design and tuning. Power comes from a combination of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 180 hp and an 87-hp electric motor system, which, through the wizardry of hybrid math, combine for a total system output of 248 hp, while maximum torque peaks at 310 lb-ft. BMW claims a 5.9-second 0-60 mph time for the 2017 330e.
Despite its relatively high performance, the 330e seeks balance with efficiency, using its 14-mile electric-only driving range to earn a 72 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) rating from the EPA when in electric-only mode. When operating as a standard gasoline-hybrid, the EPA rates the 2017 330e at 31 mpg combined.
Charging the 7.6-kWh battery pack will take about 2.5 hours, according to BMW, when connected to a 240-volt Level 2 charger. If 120-volt standard household power is all that's available, recharging will take six to seven hours.
The 2017 BMW 3 Series sedan lineup as a whole has earned a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), despite a four-star rating in frontal crash testing (the plug-in model hasn't specifically been tested yet). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) hasn't yet tested the 2017 BMW 3 Series range, but testing of the similar 2016 model resulted in overall ratings of Good (the top rating) in moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint & seat testing, with a score of Marginal (the next-to-lowest rating) for small-overlap frontal impact, preventing a Top Safety Pick+ designation.
What We Think
The current BMW 3 Series lineup as a whole has underwhelmed with its handling behavior in comparison to past generations. The 2017 BMW 330e manages acceleration and power figures which place it solidly in the middle of the overall 3-Series lineup, though with an estimated 350 lbs of extra weight due to the hybrid drive system, it's likely to offer poorer driving dynamics than the non-hybrid 3 Series models. Fortunately for the performance-oriented, there are many other 3 Series models to choose from, including the 425-horsepower 2017 BMW M3.
Despite having extra hybrid powertrain components that add weight, the BMW 330e iPerformance drives similarly to a standard, gas only 3 Series, as we noted in a 2016 First Test. The car offers plenty of power and strong acceleration thanks to the electric motor. The car's driving dynamics remain intact, providing good handling and a comfortable ride. As for EV mode range, the 330e iPerformance can only travel up to an EPA-rated 14 miles, which is shorter than some less powerful mainstream plug-in hybrids.
The 2017 BMW 330e is part of BMW's new iPerformance range, which uses plug-in hybrid technology derived from the futuristic i3 and i8 models.