The new generation BMW 3 Series appeared about two years ago, but was noticeably without any electrified options. Bimmer has fixed that this year by adding the 330e, which combines a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with an electric motor for a total combined output of 288 horsepower. For those counting, that’s 30 more than the 330i model has.
Driving small cars like the 3 is not all about horses, though. It must have class and panache as well. Especially when driving around town, on twisty highways, and.. well, all the time, actually. So going with the BMW 330e’s uptick in HP output is the balance of having batteries sitting midships to push the center of gravity for the car downward.
That means that the handling and feel of the 2021 330e is wonderful in comparison to the already good 330i. Even better, more power is available early because of that electric motor. That motor, mounted on the eight-speed automatic transmission of the 330e, can propel the car at most sub-highway speeds for up to 20 miles per charge. And it ads its torque immediately, not after winding up.
The combination of the 2.0L turbo engine and the electric motor is potent. It goes to the rear wheels by default, but all-wheel drive (which BMW calls “xDrive”) is also available.
The interior of the 2021 BMW 330e is nicely done from the get-go. Base amenities include 18-inch wheels, LED headlamps, a sunroof, simulated leather upholstery, an 8.8-inch touchscreen with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and forward collision warning and mitigation safety tech. A host of options are available after that, from which we’d recommend the Harman Kardon stereo upgrade, the Premium Package with its digital instrument cluster and head-up display, and the Dynamic Handling package with its 19-inch wheel upgrade, better brakes, and adaptive suspension. Because visibility in the 330e is good, if you’re willing to crane your neck, you can skip the Driver Assistance packages with their safety upgrades.
The 2021 BMW 330e is a well-done little plug-in hybrid with a lot of goodness about it. Pricing starts at $47,010 plus delivery for the model and you’ll add about $3,000 to that to get xDrive, but that’s commensurate with the segment where rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 are similarly priced.