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New BMW 330e Touring 2022 review

Plug-in hybrid power is available in the BMW 3 Series Touring for first time, but is it a winner?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Verdict

On paper the BMW 330e Touring is not a cheap vehicle, but as a company car it could bring huge BiK savings, as well as low everyday running costs if it’s hooked up to a wallbox regularly. It’s a great car to drive, as a BMW should be, with excellent balance, grip and body control, in addition to a well resolved powertrain. Factor in estate practicality and four-wheel drive, and this could be one of those “all the car you’ll ever need” moments.

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BMW has been gently nudging its big-selling 3 Series towards electrification for a while. But while there was a plug-in hybrid version of the previous generation of the car, it was restricted to rear-wheel drive and the saloon bodystyle. That changes with the current iteration, which adds a PHEV wagon, with a choice of transmissions.

This is our first chance, then, to see how the more practical 3 Series Touring feels with plug-in power. And, in the case of our test car, xDrive four-wheel drive.

Under the metal, the recipe is the same as the 330e saloon. There’s a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 182bhp, and an electric motor that’s integrated into the car’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The combined total output is a useful 249bhp, but this can be increased to 288bhp for bursts of up to 10 seconds. Total torque stands at 420Nm.

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In the four-wheel-drive wagon, that translates to 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 133mph – although a more relevant maximum is 68mph, the figure that the 330e can reach on electric power alone in hybrid mode. Stick it into its EV setting and you’ll gain an extra 19mph on that.

BMW says the 12kWh battery will take around three and a half hours to recharge on a regular home wallbox – so overnight refills should be a doddle. And there’s decent app integration, which allows you to schedule charging or activate pre-conditioning to warm or cool the car before your journey while it’s still plugged in.

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A full battery will deliver a pure-electric range of 34 miles, which should be enough for an average commute. This all converts to official efficiency numbers of 156mpg and 46g/km of CO2 emissions – so a Benefit-in-kind rate of 11 per cent.

Compared with a 320d xDrive Touring, this hybrid could save a 40-per cent tax-payer more than £3,000 per year. And that’s before you factor in the costs of an off-peak EV electricity rate compared with petrol or diesel. The list price may be a whisker over 50 grand (and it can soar if you’re liberal with the options), but it could score highly on value for the right type of customer.

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There is a slight compromise due to the hybrid gubbins: the boot capacity falls by 90 litres compared with a non-hybrid Touring, down from 500 litres to 410 – or 1,420 if you lower the back seats. That’s a bit modest for an estate, but still far more than in a conventional family hatchback.

There’s little to hint at the alternative power source when you’re sitting in the driver’s seat. That’s a good thing, because although the 3 Series’ cabin lacks the showmanship of Merc’s most recent offerings, it’s beautifully built and finished. The in-car tech remains at the sharp end of the class too, with Android Auto now neatly implemented alongside Apple CarPlay.

It’s out on the road where the 330e Touring makes the strongest case for itself. It handles with the kind of crispness that you’d expect from a BMW, with beautifully weighted and consistent steering matched by a stunning blend of body control and ride comfort – although it’s worth pointing out that our M Sport Pro test car had adaptive suspension as standard, whereas it’s an option on regular M Sport trim.

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The powertrain is impressive, too – near-silent around town, but for the electronic noise played at speeds up to 19mph to warn pedestrians of your presence. You could drive this car quite comfortably as an EV on short commutes or the school run.

You’re unlikely to feel hard done by on long journeys, either. In hybrid mode – your everyday setting – the transition between pure-electric and petrol power is very smooth, helped by slick software in the auto gearbox. It won’t take you long to adapt to the system, and lean on the chassis to ensure rapid progress across country.

Sport mode makes the system more urgent, but exposes you to more engine noise; it’s not too harsh, yet the slight drone will remind you, as in any other four-pot BMW, that you’re in a car without one of the company’s renowned six-cylinder motors.

The total of this, dynamically, is a car that offers refined zero-emissions motoring around town, plus genuine long-distance capability – without sacrificing any of the engagement BMW is known for. That’s a compelling recipe, in anyone’s book.

Model:BMW 330e Touring xDrive M Sport Pro Edition
Price:£50,985
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl + e-motor
Power/torque:249bhp/420Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62/max:6.2 seconds/133mph
Electric range:34 miles
Economy/CO2:156mpg/46g/km
On sale:Now
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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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