The BMW 330e Is The First Proper Bimmer With A Plug

Few conventional automakers have committed as many resources to plug-in vehicles as BMW has, launching not one but two electrified vehicles last year at opposite ends of the spectrum. For “economy” minded buyers, the BMW i3 offered both fully electric and range-extended versions to eliminate range anxiety, while the BMW i8 emphasized performance wrapped in a stunningly gorgeous and futuristic vehicle. But those cars are under the i sub-brand, and are not BMWs in the traditional sense, even if they fall well within the brand’s ethos.

Yet there’s still a big sedan-shaped hole in BMW’s electrified lineup, and the automaker is plugging (hehe) that hole with the 2016 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. Though Bimmer is keeping details of the drivetrain under wraps for now, it did say that it expects the 330e to deliver 250 horsepower, 310 lb-ft of torque, and an electric driving range of about 22 miles per charge. No mention of fuel economy, in the press release, though the website estimates it will use as little as 3.5 liters of petrol per 100 km, or about 67 MPG. 0 to 60 MPH is said to go by in a very BMW-like 6.1 seconds.

While BMW has added plugs to a few Chinese models , the BMW 330e will see the brand’s most-popular vehicle finally outfitted with proper hybrid technology. BMW also didn’t skimp on performance from the sounds of it, which could help broach the gap between performance enthusiasts and vehicle electrification.

Beyond the fuel economy question, we’re also left to wonder what size combustion engine will be under the hood or the size of the battery pack. Conventional wisdom says a small-displacement, turbocharged four-cylinder is most likely, but BMW may have dropped a hint in the press release that a three-cylinder engine may be on tap, saying;

This new BMW EfficientDynamics modular engine will share a common design blueprint, with 3, 4 and 6-cylinder inline cylinder arrangements, a displacement per cylinder of 500 cc and very lightweight, thermally optimized all-aluminum construction.
That doesn’t necessarily mean a three-cylinder setup is on tap for the 3 Series…but if it was, I’d wager it’d find a way into the 330e.

The 2016 BMW 3 Series refresh also includes a new inline-six turbodiesel with 20 more horsepower and 30 more lb-ft of torque, for new ratings of 300 and 330 respectively. That takes the diesel Bimmer from 0 to 60 MPH in as little as 4.6 seconds. There’s a lot of other upgrades, but that’s the only stuff as far as “green” car info. Eventually, all BMWs are likely to wear a plug in some fashion or another, but this is another big step towards total electrification.

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.