BMW has expanded its popular 3 Series lineup with two new plug-in hybrid models (PHEVs), the rear-wheel-drive 2021 BMW 330e and all-wheel-drive 330e xDrive.
Although the pure electric range or fuel economy ratings have not yet been released by Natural Resource Canada (NRCan), other global models are able to drive about 59 to 66 kilometres on battery power alone, though that range was based on the more generous European testing cycle. The current rear-drive BMW 530e is rated at 34 kilometres of EV range by NRCan, so something along those lines would be more realistic for the 330e.
BMW says these PHEVs can drive in hybrid mode up to speeds of 110 km/h, an increase of 30 km/h over the car it’s replacing, and in full electric mode up to 140 km/h, an increase from the previous 120 km/h.
The AWD model has a rear-biased setup that reverts all torque to the rear wheels in normal circumstances when no slippage is detected.
With a high-voltage 12 kWh lithium-ion battery and electric motor, a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine adds 181 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque for a combined system output of 288 hp and 310 lb-ft. The 330e also has a feature BMW calls XtraBoost, which drivers can call upon while in Sport mode for an instant 40-hp boost that lasts up to 10 seconds, ideal for passing slower drivers or for bursts of spirited driving. Combined, this allows the BMW 330e to accelerate to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds (6 seconds for the xDrive sedan).
At speeds up to 32 km/h, when the BMW 330e is operating in silent EV mode, it plays a sound that warns pedestrians and other cars of its presence.
Other safety features include a proactive system that uses radar and other sensors to monitor risks around the sedan and use automatic emergency braking and steering to avoid possible collisions. Adaptive cruise control with stop and go capabilities and traffic sign recognition is optional, and the system comes with a driver attention monitor that BMW says replaces the need for a driver to touch the steering wheel every 30 to 50 seconds to prove they are paying attention to the road ahead.
Standard features include frontal collision warning, lane departure warning, and blind-spot monitoring. Also available are rear cross-traffic protection and cross-traffic alert, active lane keep assist, active side collision avoidance, traffic jam assist, a 360-degree top-down parking camera, a reversing assistant, and a parking assistant that automates all the inputs needed for parallel and perpendicular parking (including braking, steering, accelerating, and gear changes), both entering and leaving a spot. The reverse assistant isn’t available yet on other 3 Series models except the PHEVs and helps drivers exit tight parking spots or confined areas.
BMW’s “Personal Assistant,” which operates like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, is included as standard. Drivers summon it by saying “Hey BMW” and can use it to look things up or operate many of the car’s functions using their voice. Drivers will also be able to use their NFC-enabled smartphone as a key.
Pricing for the 2021 BMW 330e starts at $44,950 and $54,000 for the xDrive model (not including delivery fees or government EV incentives/rebates). The PHEV sport sedans are scheduled to arrive this May.