A new plug-in hybrid version of the BMW 3-series is undergoing cold weather testing ahead of an expected launch this summer.
Although hard to distinguish visibly from regular models, a flap in its front wing is believed to hide the charging socket for the battery.
It’s expected the model will use the new four-cylinder-based drivetrain that was shown in the BMW Concept X5 eDrive, seen at last September’s Frankfurt show. This means the car will primarily be powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, in conjunction with a 95bhp electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.
Judging by the claims BMW has made for the rather larger and heavier X5 plug-in, the new 3-series should be able to cover over 25 miles on pure battery power at speeds of up to 75mph. This 3-series is likely to be given an official consumption figure of over 80mpg when it undergoes EU fuel consumption tests.
The car will have switchable driving modes, and will default into EcoPro mode when the car starts up. This, says BMW, offers “intelligent hybrid functionality, whereby the energy management system tailors the interplay of combustion engine and electric drive system to most efficient effect.” A fully charged battery pack can also be put into ‘hold’ mode, so drivers can utilise emissions-free driving, for example, at their city-centre destination.
BMW says the new plug-in drivetrain means that “drivers can also enjoy the services of the hybrid-specific Proactive Driving Assistant, which teams up with the navigation system to incorporate factors such as route profile, speed restrictions and the traffic situation into the driving mode selection”.