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FeaturesMe and My Test Drive: Living with a BMW 330e Touring

Me and My Test Drive: Living with a BMW 330e Touring

Matthew Macconnell spends a week with the new 330e hybrid.

Find yourself covering interplanetary miles on the UK’s motorways monthly? Perhaps your job involves travelling or you just want to keep costs low – a hybrid might just be the ticket. There is an array of hybrid options available that offer a range of mpg figures, but what happens when you smash open the rainy-day terramundi pot and invest a little bit more in a posh hybrid such as the 330e?

Matthew Macconnell test drives the new BMW 330e and reports on how he got on living with this new hybrid for a week.

It’d be easy to instantly barrage you with truisms when it comes to the 330e, but this is a modern BMW after all, and you would expect nothing less from a luxurious mile-muncher.

BMW 330e

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its foibles – for example, the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. It’ll tell you a list of commands, and when you say them, you’re often met with “try again?”; although you’re sure that you speak English, it leads you to think that you may actually converse in Yupik instead. Say: “hey BMW, tell me a joke”, however, and it’ll get right on it, telling you some of the fatherliest jokes you’ve probably ever heard.

Cards laid out on the table, the black ink claims that the 330e trumps both the 330d and 330i on mpg, offering as much as 138mpg; if you’re expecting it to be as agile as the latter though, you may be disheartened.

BMW 330e

The technical trickery happens underneath and is similar to the previous F30 model. You get the 2.0-litre 182bhp petrol engine from the 320i and a 108bhp electric motor, together this means 290bhp when the XtraBoost is active. Drive it in hybrid mode, and this is strangled to 248bhp. The first test: an obligatory acceleration run timed on a Racebox. BMW claims 0-62mph happens in 5.9sec. With no launch control present, I disabled traction control, knocked the gear lever back to sport, tapped ‘Sport XtraBoost’ and launched the car from 1,700rpm; 0-60mph arrived in 5.3sec and 62 in 5.6sec. The 30-70 through the gears showed 5.5sec and the hefty 1,800kg 330e braked from 60 to 0mph in just 36m. Sport mode noticeably firms the suspension, giving you heaps of confidence for fast cornering but becomes tiresome over some of Britain’s potholed roads.

Next was to get it as close to the claimed 138mpg using the 330e’s abundance of hybrid tech. A quick look through the owner’s manual revealed that the sat nav system speaks back to the electric drive system. This means that when you input your destination, it’ll check the route and adjust the electric drive automatically – maximising fuel economy.

Over the week of ownership, the car was put to the test on a route that consists of town, motorway and B-road driving – roughly 42 miles. Using the Hybrid setting with sat nav, it returned 81.4mpg on a fully charged battery, covered 28.7 miles on electric power and gave 4.4mi/kWh. Home, battery charged and back out on the test route with Hybrid Pro selected. Arriving at the destination some 42 miles later showed a 99.5mpg figure, covering 27.5 miles on electricity, returning 3.8kWh.

Reasonable figures aside, what happens when you use all the battery charge like I did? Well, there are two options. You can check the sat nav to see if there’s a charging station nearby or you can run mostly on the engine which will return mpg figures close to the 320i. By staying in one of the hybrid settings, it’ll recharge the battery on the move. Running the battery flat, I drove the test run again in Hybrid Pro and it returned 40.2mpg. By selecting the nifty battery hold feature, you can retain the battery power for a later point in the journey. Spend a bit more money and you can have a Type 2 cable which will allow charging speeds of up to 3.7kW but if you have an outside plug, an extension cable and five spare minutes, things really aren’t that bad. I found the 330e will charge from 0 to 100% (29-mile range) in around six hours.

You’ll have to really consider whether the 330e is for you before forking out £48,035 for the base Touring guise or £46,285 for the Saloon. In base form, you still get a lot of tech, and high mpg figures are achievable if you spend some time working out the controls and refrain from hammering it. The Touring offers a 500-litre boot space with the seats in place, press two buttons in the boot and the seats automatically fold flat. This gives 1,510-litres, meaning it will swallow dogs and planks of wood with ease.

My test car was loaded with equipment such as a panoramic roof, M Sport package and a technology pack, pushing it to around the £62,000 mark. Inside, it was wrapped in Tacora Red leather which my 80-year-old grandmother adored when I chauffeured her on a short 20-minute drive. When asking my precious cargo how she liked the BMW 330e, I was met with: “This is just lovely – it’s so quiet and I won’t be getting out”. Sorry BMW, the car now has an 80-year-old backseat assistant. On the plus side, she smiles a lot, and her jokes are better than the car’s.

Find more info:
BMW 330e

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BMW Car Club GB
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