When BMW first launched the i Series project, it was with the explicit intent to move that advanced technology into the mainstream series of cars for the rest of the company, and we finally have the first crossover. The freshly announced BMW 330e iPerformance takes the BMW 3 Series that we know and love and fills it with advanced hybrid technology borrowed from the i3 and i8.
It all starts with a 180-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter, the same unit from the entry level 320i, but it gets the 87 hp electric system from the i8, resulting in a total power output of 248 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. That is more power than the 328i, and even more torque than the BMW’s 328d turbodiesel. Power gets shuffled to the rear wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission. BMW claims that is enough performance to launch the new 330e to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds, and top speed is limited to 140 mph. Technically, that makes the 330e the fastest 3 Series that doesn’t wear an M Badge.
Those fancy batteries and electric motors are not just there to enhance performance either. Following the ethos of the i Series technology, the 330e is capable of operating under pure electric power at speeds under 75 mph, and for a projected range of about 14 miles. It can then be plugged in at any major charging station to be topped back off again.
Aside from the charging plug and the batteries, there is very little here that is new and exciting when compared to a standard BMW 3 Series. Same basic shape and same basic interior design. If you’ve been waiting for a driver’s car that is eco-friendly, and actually affordable, it seems BMW has the machine for you.