The derivative line-up of the current 3 Series is something of a maze when it comes to rolling chassis specification. For example, passive M Sport suspension doesn’t appear on any 330e, even as an option, as it would on a like-for-like 330i or 330d.
Moreover, all versions of the car bar one – including M Sports with the optional M Sport Plus package such as our test car (19in rims, adaptively damped M Sport suspension, variable sport steering) – run on run-flat tyres; and there’s no way to swap a top-of-the-line M Sport onto ‘performance’ tyres in order to avoid run-flats here as there is on a 330i or 330d. If you want to avoid run-flats on your 330e, the only ‘factory’ way is with an entry-level 330e SE Pro with 17in wheels and mobility foam.
The good news? That none of this need necessarily concern the wannabe 330e owner too much. There was admittedly a slight coarseness about our test car’s ride isolation, and a tetchiness to its secondary ride, which left it feeling just on the fidgety side of taut over less than perfect surfaces; and it was enough to suggest that M Sport trim – particularly with the extra trimmings of the M Sport Plus pack – is best left alone with a 3 Series this heavy.
However, on most roads and most of the time, our test car had the same incisive steering, compelling handling balance, good close body control and respectable refinement you’d expect of any 3 Series.
The 330e certainly feels like one of those old-school, lower-level 3 Series sports saloons in which less always used to mean more. Our test car had good roll control, steering keenly and with natural poise, and it felt agile and was absorbing to drive. It’s well worth noting, however, that the car’s torque level might have made for more engaging and adjustable handling still with a little less rubber on the road at those driven rear wheels; just as its ride might have been improved by the extra tyre sidewall a smaller rim would bring.