The best thing about electromobility is (still) the compromise. And I am convinced that it is called a plug-in hybrid. No range worries, driving without necessarily having to charge electrical energy beforehand, still being able to drive emission-free in the city and driving economically even with the combustion engine. This point of view was confirmed by the BMW 330e Touring Plug-in Hybrid, which not only impressed me as an automobile, but also with a few interesting technological features.
Let's start with an insignificant detail that has never convinced me: speech recognition. Finally a car that understands me. The language system recognized and implemented even more complex verbally presented tasks. Even the desire for an oldie radio station was understood and promptly discontinued. Whether I asked for more warmth or formulated a complicated address: In contrast to before, the system in the test car understood me better than my wife at times. That is quite something. The IT developers at BMW did a great job here.
An old-school relic inspires
Before we turn to the big picture of this automobile, one more detail that positively stands out from the digitalization euphoria (which I have also fallen for) as an old-school relic as well as a non-digital paradox. It certainly took a lot of discussion before the developer group that adhered to the good old loud-quiet knob prevailed. No touch-sensitive slider, no button in the steering wheel can replace the grip on this magical button that has been stored in our cerebellum for thousands of years and should by no means be viewed as a fossil of ergonomic past. Perhaps this button is one of the last physical connections to the automotive past that digitalistically appears on the horizon. In short: the button is an extremely practical detail that even reconciles digitization skeptics. It is therefore entirely justified to dedicate so many lines to a loud / quiet knob. Also because we have long since got used to the great iDrive system with its logic, which, by the way, BMW introduced in the Seven over 20 years ago. But now to the actual main actor 330e.
The 3 Series has grown up completely
What is immediately noticeable from the outside: the length and size. The perceptible “presence value” of the 330e Touring with its 4,71 meters now touches that of a five, which is still around 20 centimeters longer, but should not be perceived as significantly larger. The design of the still new threesome has been sharpened in a more contemporary way, with the shape of the kidney still leading to polarizing discussions that are becoming ever quieter in their intensity. For the hypercritical BMW fan, it is only a matter of time before all wounds will finally heal. The true art of design only becomes visible when an initially criticized design has matured into an aesthetic narrative in our heads. In design, love usually wilts quickly at first sight. At first, sustainable design often meets with skeptical rejection. And suddenly new forms appear to us as the true trend maker, as modern and future-proof.
Also very efficient in combustion mode
Although we were using this technically very sophisticated plug-in, we were never able to charge or charge the battery at a charging station. The one column available in our place of residence is always occupied because only two cars can charge at the same time. The battery with a capacity of 12 kWh would need around 3,7 hours of charging time with the maximum possible charging power of 3,5 kW, and even eight hours on a 230-volt household connection, which only makes sense overnight for a commuter, for example. However, the battery can also be fully charged while driving. At the push of a button on “Battery Control”, it shows itself to be fully charged after about 80 kilometers of gasoline-powered driving, which of course significantly increases gasoline consumption.
We mostly drove in hybrid mode and made sure to drive with as much anticipation as possible. That means taking off the gas early on in order to convert the kinetic energy in overrun mode into electricity for the battery by means of recuperation. This means that there is always a residual current in the battery, which helps to overcome the inertia of the 1,9-ton vehicle when it starts. On our 2500-kilometer test drive without charging at a charging station (!) We burned an average of 7,4 liters of petrol per 100 kilometers. For a system output of 2-liter four-cylinder and an electric motor of 292 hp, this is an absolutely efficient consumption value.
However, consumption can be increased to over 10 liters per 100 kilometers when driving at full throttle for a long time on the motorway. After all, the BMW is not a child of slowness with a top speed of 230 km / h. Purely electrically, it manages 140 km / h, from 0 to 100 km / h with the power of two hearts and activated "XtraBoost" a minimum of 5,9 seconds, a sports car value. This "XtraBoost" adds another 40 hp, but is only available for ten seconds. This doesn’t affect the driving experience, because the perceived total performance clearly shows the sporty, dynamic character of the proverbial “sheer driving pleasure”.
The WLTP consumption value is a milkmaid bill
As is usual with plug-ins, the gasoline consumption is specified unrealistically according to the WLTP at 1,7 liters. Here the EU lies to itself with its complicated consumption calculation. Only those who drive off with a full battery can achieve this value for the first 100 kilometers. No wonder that auto critics sharply criticize this milkmaid bill. When the battery is empty after about 55 kilometers of electric driving, the gasoline consumption increases significantly. The average of 7,4 liters determined by us is, however, owed - as described - to a forward-looking driving style, but without becoming a traffic obstacle on the motorway or on country roads. So no strolling pace, but brisk driving style with the reservation of applied reason.
Driving pleasure is always guaranteed
The drive shows the perfect coordination in the interplay of four-cylinder turbo gasoline engine, electric drive and 8-speed automatic. The low noise level is reminiscent of a smooth six-cylinder, the smooth gear changes up and down show the optimal interaction of all components. We also liked the numerous assistants.
The Driving Assistant Professional (1.950 euros), which should not be missed, is outstanding. His numerous skills are impressive. One of them is the active speed control, it not only maintains the distance to the vehicle in front, but also starts automatically in traffic jams after a long stop. The driver does not have to give the start signal himself with the accelerator pedal. This works extremely smoothly, so no leap forward, but a soulful start, as even a person can not do better.
The traffic sign recognition works reliably and even indicates speed limits in advance. The intelligent programming of the “geo-fencing technology” is impressive, as it automatically detects all designated environmental zones and automatically switches to purely electric driving mode when such a zone is reached, provided the battery is charged. This is actually artificial intelligence that cannot be programmed more intelligently. The developers really thought of everything.
The plug-in touring impressed us in all criteria
Conclusion: The 330e is the ideal automobile for the transition to electromobility. Those who cannot decide between gasoline and diesel will find the painless compromise here, because they neither have to forego range nor emission-free driving on site. If, one day in the near future, the four-cylinder installed here can also be fired with synthetic fuel, this BMW can also be moved in a more or less “climate-neutral” manner. The qualities of this Touring - from the choice of materials in the interior to the perfect workmanship - are already beyond question, its practicality is hardly restricted by the smaller cargo space owed to the battery. The driving behavior is typically BMW precisely controllable, sporty comfortable and very balanced. The layout of the speedometer and speed indicators turned out a little too exalted for us, but that is a matter of taste and getting used to. At around 51.000 euros, the base price is not the end of the line. Our test car including numerous special equipment is 62.961 euros, which can be increased significantly with additional extras. Thanks to the environmental bonus of 5.625 euros and lower company car taxation, this price also falls into the “theory of relativity” category.