What is it?
The BMW 330e is currently one of the smartest ways for the company car driver to make his monthly car allowance go that bit further. It’s a car that feels at once like a really authentic BMW sports saloon as well as a visionary chunk of the electrified motoring future: two concepts you probably weren’t expecting to find executed on the same set of four wheels.
The car is a ‘plug-in hybrid’ petrol-electric saloon of a familiar type, driven primarily by BMW’s 182bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which sends its power to the car’s rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But in place of a conventional automatic saloon’s torque converter is an 87bhp electric motor and an additional clutch, the former drawing power from a 7.6kWh lithium ion battery located under the boot floor.
When both power sources team up, the 330e can summon 249bhp and 310lb ft and hit 62mph from rest in a whisker over six seconds. And yet it can also cover up to 25 miles on battery power alone, according to BMW, and emit only 44g/km of CO2 on the EU emissions test, which means it qualifies for benefit in kind tax at just 7% of its showroom price. This, therefore, is a 250bhp, £35k BMW 3 Series that costs less on company car tax than an £18k Fiat Tipo diesel, and even bought privately, with the government’s £2500 grant in the mix, it can be snapped up for considerably less than the list price of either a 330i or 330d.
Above and beyond that, the 330e’s selling point is very much typical BMW-brand performance and dynamism. And so those familiar with the handful of plug-in hybrid saloons, hatchbacks and estates already on the market will note that the car offers markedly better peak power and accelerative pace than the likes of the Volkswagen Passat GTE, Audi A3 eTron and Volvo’s V60 D5 Twin Engine, while being trumped on paper only by the Mercedes C 350e.