Updated: Jul 6
Slow and steady wins the race, according to the old saying, but "slow" is not usually in BMW's vocabulary.
The 330e has been a fairly constant exception. Not so much in terms of acceleration---zero to 60 in 5.6 is more than respectable---but in terms of growing its pure electric range.
Two years ago, the 2021 BMW 330e only got 22 miles of pure electric range before switching to a gasoline/electric hybrid powerplant. And that was a vast improvement over the 2020 model, which could only manage 14. For 2023, that number is 26---and that's still not a lot by comparison to other PHEVs on the market. The Kia Niro PHEV went from 26 to 33 this year, the Volvo S60 Recharge delivers 35, Toyota's RAV4 Prime wrings 42 miles out of a charge, and the Range Rover Sport Autobiography tops 'em all at 51. Granted, every electric mile you get---even if it's only 26---is a mile where you're not using gasoline or contributing to tailpipe emissions, but it'd be nice to see BMW advance the pure electric range, and do so macht schnell for competitive reasons. 26 is also the combined city/highway EPA estimate once that charge runs out and the 330e switches to gasoline/electric hybrid. In that mode, there's 288 total system horsepower, and the aforementioned 5.6 seconds to 60.
And this is where things get weird. In February, I reviewed the 2023 BMW 330i---a purely gasoline-powered version of this same car. It gets to 60 in 5.4 seconds and its combined city/highway EPA average is 29 miles per gallon. So the only upside to the 330e over the 330i is its pure electric capability---which would seem to make maximizing the range an even bigger priority, since fuel economy actually dips compared to the gasoline engine when it goes into hybrid mode.
Give BMW credit for not charging a terribly hefty premium for that pure electric ability. The 2023 BMW 330e starts at $46,295 including destination---just $3,000 above the starting point for the 330i. If you're diligent about charging and make the most of the ability to drive in EV mode, you'll come out ahead on gasoline costs fairly quickly. Standard equipment on the 330e includes the xDrive all-wheel drive system, power-folding heated side mirrors, a solid audio system, navigation, multi-zone climate control, a moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, an eight-speed sport automatic transmission, adaptive M suspension, acoustic protection, and auto-dimming mirrors inside and out.
As is typical with European luxury cars in general and BMW in particular, there was a fairly hefty group of extra-cost options involved, as well---$1,500 for the Tanzanite Blue II Metallic paint, $700 for the Driving Assistance Package (including Active Driving Assistant Pro, active blind spot detection and lane departure warning), $1,400 for the Dynamic Handling Package (M Sport brakes with blue calipers and variable sport steering), $1,700 for the Driving Assistance Pro Package (including extended traffic jam assistant), $2,550 for the M Sport Package (19" wheels, an M steering wheel and an anthracite headliner), $700 for the Parking Assistance Package (including active park distance control and a surround view monitor with 3D), $1,350 for the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, keyless entry, lumbar support for the drive and heated front seats), and $875 for an upgrade to a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system. BMW Digital Key is shown as a deleted option on the car, subtracting $80, so the as-tested price of the 2023 BMW 330e lands at $56,990.
The 330e is a solid car with a neat attribute---like all PHEVs, it can deliver a certain number of pure electric miles before it starts using gasoline. For most commuters, though, the number is still too low. Props to BMW for boosting that range as much as it has---but there's still a way to go to be attractive to the largest possible number of buyers.