The 330e’s battery pack adds 89kg to its kerb weight. Fortunately, that mass sits well within the car’s track and straddles the rear axle, so the commendable chassis balance of the F30 3 Series remains largely unaltered (in this case, 48/52 front to rear).

The drawback is that there’s no space for the power electronics that operate BMW’s adaptive damper system, so the 330e is available with a passive suspension set-up only.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
On a damp track, the 330e’s stiff front axle struggles to draw the chassis into the apex as the tyres fumble for purchase with the tarmac

A passive set-up is often the preference of those who value the way a car handles, but in the 330e, with no Comfort mode to soften things up, it can be detrimental to the driving experience if you’re not judicious with your choice of optional extras.

From previous experience of the 330e, we know that 17in wheels shod in run-flat tyres – a combination that’s standard in Sport trim – hit a sweet spot between body control and pliancy. Indeed, in an attempt to contain the exaggerated body movements brought about by the weight of the battery, BMW has already stiffened the basic suspension set-up and it’s well judged, yielding a refined car that still corners with satisfying precision and poise.

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However, opting for the 10mm-lower M Sport suspension – as fitted to our test car – makes for an overly taut chassis that fidgets a touch too much at a cruise and never truly settles when you’re in the mood to enjoy the powertrain’s clout.

The rigid sidewalls of the 19in run-flat tyres worn by our test car seemed to exacerbate these traits, with the rear axle shimmying across the road surface through quicker corners when we would have expected it to remain planted.

If all that sounds a touch severe, know that the 330e remains the high-water mark for hybrid saloons in terms of handling, with or without M Sport suspension. Its ability to carry out grand-touring duties with aplomb shouldn’t be forgotten, either.

This is a BMW 3 Series, so it’s going to perform with a high level of dynamic assurance thanks to its excellent weight distribution and rear-drive chassis.

Factor in the 330e’s plentiful torque, responsive throttle and clinical gearbox and you have a machine designed to rise to the occasion of Millbrook’s hill route. 

And then the rain came. Where grip could be found, our test car exhibited good balance and the DSC was refreshingly sympathetic from the perspective of a keen driver.

However, our car was also over-wheeled and too firmly sprung and the limits of its chassis were reached regrettably early.

As a result, the front axle often washed wide of apices and the rear struggled for traction with the application of any meaningful amount of lock. Look to the M Sport springs and run-flat tyres for the reason why. It’s a car at the mercy of the weather, to be sure.

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