First Drive

First Drive: BMW 330e Touring PHEV

The story:
As part of BMW’s widespread expansion of its plug-in hybrid line-up the brand has added a PHEV 3-Series Touring to the saloon for the first time.
Category:Compact Executive
Key rival:Mercedes-Benz C300e Estate
On sale:Now

BMW has introduced a whole batch of plug-in hybrid additions to its range during 2020, including a number of its X-branded SUVs and, coming soon, a more powerful second PHEV for the 5-Series.

However, the addition to the 3-Series line-up could prove to be a popular one, because for the first time, the 3-Series Touring has a PHEV alternative to the regular petrol and diesel models.

First Drive- December 2020- BMW 330e Touring PHEV- Image 4The tech is, unsurprisingly, the same as the powertrain already well established in the 3-Series saloon, which means 292hp from a combination of 184hp 2.0-litre petrol and electric motor. It’s plenty rapid enough, and once the battery is exhausted, which will be just shy of 30 miles with sensible driving in the real world, the PHEV will pretty much match the economy you’d expect from a BMW 320d. Which is significantly less powerful, and will attract significantly more tax.

The Touring offers an electric-only range of 32-37 miles depending on spec, and emissions go from 32-40g/km for a model range of eight options that run from rear-drive SE up to xDrive 4×4 M Sport Pro Edition. The CO2 is a touch behind the saloon, but not enough to make any difference to the BiK tax bands, with the 330e Touring sitting in the 10% band for this tax year.

First Drive- December 2020- BMW 330e Touring PHEV- Image 2With most PHEVs, boot space is impacted by the need to package the batteries as well as a petrol powertrain, and the 3-Series Touring is no exception; the luggage space drops from 500 litres to the PHEV’s 410 with the rear seats in place. When the seats are down, it drops by 90 litres to 1420, although there’s no visible impact on practicality, with the boot floor flat and a useful shape. It’s underfloor where the space is gone, which only really matters when it comes to stashing the charging cables.

The only real PHEV estate rival is Mercedes’ C300e, which is slightly more expensive, slightly less efficient, has a smaller boot, a worse residual value and has a higher cost per mile. Which makes the BMW a rather handy company car arrival.

paul barker

The verdict

Another BMW PHEV joins the range, but this one offers useful practicality to match the tax and fuel efficiency (when charged as often as possible), and the performance.