Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have become all the craze these days, fuelled further by the holy trinity of hypercars. There is nothing to hate really; lower emissions, better performance and in Malaysia, usually attractive pricing.
There is no better time for BMW Malaysia to introduce their latest locally assembled 3 Series variant, the highly anticipated 330e plug-in hybrid. Priced at RM249k, this EEV from BMW iPerformance is not to be overlooked.
|Name||BMW 330e iPerformance|
|Engine||1,998cc; twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder|
|Transmission||8-speed automatic with Steptronic|
|Max Power||184 hp @ 5,500 – 6,500 rpm|
|Max Torque||290 Nm @ 1,350 – 4,250 rpm|
|Hybrid Motor Output||88 hp & 250 Nm|
|Combined Max Power / Torque||252 hp / 420 Nm|
|0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed||6.1 seconds; 225 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption||2.1 litres per 100km|
|Price (OTR without insurance)||RM248,800|
On the outside, the 330e is identical to the regular F30 3-series LCI. This means the 330e wears a sport-line trim. With the LCI, you get the ever so slightly reshaped Corona Ring DRLs with LED headlights and redesigned full-LED tail lamps. Fog lamps are of LED combination as well. Overall the 330e is unmistakably BMW’s sporty 3-series.
The only tell-tale signs are the charging inlet on the front left wheel arches and the “e” badge at the rear. Otherwise the 330e is identical to the 330i it replaces. The 330e rides on larger 18-inch alloys wrapped in 225/45 section rubbers at front and 255/40 section at the rear.
Inside is a familiar BMW cockpit. Some may find the interior bland and unimaginative, but others would appreciate the familiarity and ease of use. Thanks to the EEV incentive by the government, BMW Malaysia were able to introduce an array of equipment while keeping the price attractive.
With the 330e, you get a M sport leather wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, BMW ConnectedDrive infotainment system and full-coloured heads up display as per the LCI 3-series. On top of that, BMW has thrown in reverse camera, electric panoramic roof and Park Assistant.
The ConnectedDrive system comes with BMW Online Office for the workaholics. This service allows the occupants to read, write and send emails from within the car. Besides that, you will also services such as Intelligent Emergency Call, Concierge Services and BMW Teleservies.
On top of that, you get a MyBMW Remote App to control your 330e’s climate control as well as data on the current charging status of the battery. A built-in SIM card ensures that you are always connected to the net without the need of an external hotspot.Other than that, you get a series of ‘eDrive’ badges around the cockpit to remind you that you are in a special Bimmer.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘hybrid’ because this 330e has every bit of Sheer Driving Pleasure DNA etched in it. Powered by the same 320i’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, the combustion engine manages 184 hp and 290 Nm of torque. Meanwhile, the electric motor supplements the combustion engine with 88 hp and 250 Nm of twist from 0 to 2,500 rpm. These add up to a combined output of 252 hp and 420 Nm of torque.
The 330e gets to 100km/h in just 6.1 seconds with a top speed of 225km/h. Thanks to its electric motor, fuel consumption is rated at 2.1 litres per 100km. With those fuel savings, losing out on the 330i’s century sprint by just a fraction of a second (0.3 seconds to be exact) is a compromise most of us are able to deal with.
The eDrive button allows the driver to switch between three driving modes: AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE and SAVE BATTERY. Auto allows the car to decide the best settings for the combustion engine and electric motor to give you the most pleasurable drive. MAX eDRIVE allows for pure electric drive when the battery has sufficient charge. In pure electric mode, the 330e has a theoretical range of 37km with a top speed of 120 km/h. In SAVE BATTERY, the car is powered solely by the combustion engine to conserve and charge the battery.
The 7.6 kWh battery pack takes about five hours to get it to full charge on regular power sockets. With the optional RM6,000 BMW Wallbox Pro, the time is cut to 3.5 hours. In addition to that, buyers would be glad to know that the charging inlet is compatible with the ChargEV public charging stations in 19 different locations throughout the peninsular.
The 330e is available in four exterior shades: Alpine White, Black Sapphire, Mediterranean Blue and Mineral Grey. Only one interior theme is available which is Black Dakota leather. The iPerformance vehicle comes with BMW’s 5-Year unlimited mileage warranty with free scheduled service and 24-month BMW tyre warranty programme.
BMW has kindly offered the media a short spin with the 330e around Sri Damansara. The drive was short and bogged down by heavy traffic, however it is sufficient for us to have a little taste of the car’s capabilities. My first impressions to the car is extremely positive. The battery motor and combustion engine work together harmoniously. The transitions between the two power sources were buttery smooth.
Driving dynamics wise, I am happy to report that despite being a PHEV, the 330e drives just like you’d expect of a Bimmer. Power delivery was strong and the eight-speed autobox provided seamless shifts. Even with the extra battery motor, BMW has managed to set up the car with an impressive 50:50 front to rear weight distribution, suggesting that it would be a joy around bends. The short drive did not permit pushing the car’s boundaries, but the 330e sure feels capable.
Getting into the car was a horrible mistake for me. The short 15-minute stint has got me hooked and it only made me crave for more. With a price that undercuts its 330i sibling, sparing fuel consumption and sheer driving pleasure, I simply cannot imagine a bigger value for your buck. Now, what about the C 350e?