This being an F30-generation 3 Series, the driving position is beyond reproach and has seemingly endless scope for adjustment.

The instruments – largely still analogue – sit just below eye level for most drivers, although our car also had BMW’s crystal-clear optional head-up display (as part of the £2295 Innovation package). Either way, this is a top-notch driving environment.

Richard Lane

Road tester
Jumping from a less sporting rival such as the Passat GTE into the 330e feels like dropping into a bucket seat. The driving position is a peach

Back-seat passengers don’t have it quite so good. Most adults will find adequate levels of comfort although frequent occupants would probably thank you for choosing a Passat GTE instead of the BMW.

Boot space, meanwhile, takes a hit because of the battery pack tucked under the floor. At 370 litres, it’s more than 100 litres smaller than a conventionally powered 3 Series’.

With the exception of some blue detailing and a battery charge depletion/recuperation graphic in the main instrument binnacle, the 330e’s interior barely deviates from that of the rest of the 3 Series line-up.

The most significant addition is a small button marked ‘eDrive’ that sits just behind the gear selector. Auto eDrive, Max eDrive and Save Battery are the modes to choose from – respectively balancing the car’s two power sources, operating the powertrain on electric power alone or saving battery charge for later.

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Overall, the 330e’s interior remains as intuitive and fundamentally ‘right’ as you’d expect of a volume-selling saloon from BMW.

That said, this is also an interior that, barring an occasional refresh, has been in production since November 2011.

Back then, you might have called it ‘driver-centric’, but now it feels more utilitarian, particularly next to the heavily digital, clean-cut class of the A4 and curvaceous elegance of the C-Class. Only the Giulia and the XE can compete with the BMW from the perspective of keen drivers, though.

The 330e uses BMW’s iDrive system, with its rotary dial mounted on the transmission tunnel and digital display sitting a little incongruously atop the dashboard.

After years of refinement, it’s now an intuitive set-up — especially in comparison with newer touchscreen systems — if lacking the sophistication of the latest software from rivals such as Volkswagen.

BMW’s ConnectedDrive system analyses sat-nav data on the move to make the most efficient use of the energy stored in the car’s battery.

This can, BMW claims, result in the powertrain leaning more heavily on the electric motor than it otherwise would if you’re travelling through a built-up area, for example.

There’s also the option of finding available public charging stations — provided they are operated by ChargeNow, BMW’s own network of charging points.  

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