When BMW introduced the current version of its evergreen compact executive option, the 3 Series, at the start of 2019, the proportion of UK sales it expected to be accounted for by the plug-in hybrid version – the 330e – was about a quarter.
That was then; and so much has changed since. The UK company car system now gives plug-in cars two or three times the cost-related tax advantage for fleet drivers that it did even a year ago. Meanwhile, no government mandarin wastes an opportunity to reaffirm the plan to outlaw the sale of internal combustion-engined cars before the middle of the next decade.
We can say with some confidence, then, that no other version of the 3 Series is likely to be as important to the firm’s near- and mid-term sales success in the UK as this one; and that the verdict we’re about to come to may well be the most crucial we’ve delivered on any 3 Series to date.
The 3 Series line-up at a glance
With both M Performance versions of the G20-generation 3 Series present and correct in the range, as well as our plug-in hybrid and low-end petrols and diesels, all that’s now missing is a top-of-the-line M3.
It’s a fulsome line-up, with all cars except the entry-level diesel getting an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. SE and Sport Pro trim levels appear below M Sport on the 330e.