BMW 330e xDrive M

Sport

BMW 3 Series, 2023, front
BMW 3 Series, 2023, side
BMW 3 Series, 2023, interior
BMW 3 Series, 2023, rear
BMW 3 Series, 2023, display screen

FULL cream electric cars have much to recommend them - particularly to the many company car users whose tax will plummet.

And despite the widespread realisation that electric is undoubtedly the future, there's a reticence among buyers to take the plunge.

Maybe it's range anxiety, maybe a fear of the unknown. And perhaps the Government's recent postponement of the switch to all electric production has further increased uncertainty.

So many of us are looking at a ‘half-way-house' in the shape of a plug-in hybrid.

Among the more appealing options for those after a sporting drive is the BME 330e, a compact four-door saloon that blends 2.0-litre turbo performance with plug-in power hence slashing BiK tax and aiding economy without penalty to performance.

Together with both combustion and battery power, the 330e knocks out 288bhp which gives it enough shove to dispose of the 62mph dash in less than six seconds.

The electric motor is capable of powering the car on its own up to 87mph and it allows almost 40 miles on electric alone.

A 40 litre petrol tank supplements the battery, fairly small by sports saloon standards.

As with most hybrids, power is near instant and gives an impression of even brisker performance than the figures suggest.

It's also near silent and unflustered, making long journeys relaxing and quick. The only negative is tyre noise from the sports low profiles.

It almost goes without saying that the mid size Beemer handles neatly and confidently, athough more perceptive drivers will notice it feels a tad heavier and slightly less athletic than its lighter petrol brothers.

X-Drive all-paw grip ensures all the power is fed to the road without wheelspin, as well as providing an extremely distant breaking point when adhesion is eventually lost.

An eight speed automatic gearbox is a good match to the power supply and generally works well.

It's questionable whether the steering wheel paddles bring much to the party, and the tendency to dab the left paddle for a downward change which later reverts to Sport mode rather than Drive is somewhat strange.

Ride is pretty good in Comfort setting, and a little too firm for our pock-market road is Sport, we felt. There's little cornering roll and the steering is pleasantly weighted though it has no more feedback than a normal 3 Series.

The cabin follows BMW well trod pattern in having a large rectangular touchscreen containing much of the switchgear including heater and audio controls. It's easy enough to work but, like all touchscreens, is pretty ineffective when travelling on undulating surfaces or windy roads as you struggle to maintain a steady hand.

Switchgear is sturdy and positive and the soft touch plastic mouldings are of a high quality giving the saloon an appropriate prestige feel. There's a lot of black around, especially with black leather seating, albeit slightly enlivened by blue stitching.

The boot is somewhat smaller that the petrol or diesel versions at 375litres to allow for batteries, nevertheless the hatchback-sized cargo area is sufficient for most families on a weekend break.

Our average fuel consumption worked out at 43mpg, somewhat less than the official figure but quite reasonable for a spirited four-seater sports saloon.

£49,175

2.0-litre, 4 cyl, 288bhp,petrol engine driving 4 wheels via automatic gearbox

155mph

5.9sec

: 162.2

34

38g/km

12%

3yrs/60,000 miles

4.6

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