New entry-level BMW 320e and 520e PHEVs unveiled

BMW will soon launch cheaper plug-in hybrid 320e and 520e variants in Europe – both with pure-electric ranges of around 30 miles

BMW has confirmed it will launch new entry-level plug-in hybrid versions of the 3 Series and 5 Series saloons, called the 320e and 520e respectively. The new models won't make it to the UK – but they're due to go on sale in Europe in March with lower price tags than the current 330e and 530e models. 

The new entry-level BMW 320e and 520e plug-in hybrids will both use the same powertrain – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that’s mated to an electric motor and 12kWh lithium- ion battery pack, for a combined output of 201bhp and 350Nm of torque.

Both cars will also feature an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-wheel-drive as standard, although the 3 Series will be optionally available with BMW xDrive all-wheel-drive system. Buyers will also be able to choose both cars in saloon or estate bodystyles. 

In the 320e saloon, the powertrain offers a 0–62mph time of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. Due to the extra weight, the 520e saloon completes the same sprint in 7.9 seconds, although its top speed remains identical. When running in pure-electric mode, both cars will also reach a top speed of 87mph.

BMW says the new 320e will have an electric-only range of between 30 and 35 miles depending on spec, while the 5 Series will manage between 25 and 34 miles. When plugged into a 3kW wallbox, the pair will recover an 80 percent top-up in around 2.5 hours, with a full recharge taking 3.5 hours.

In terms of economy, BMW claims that both the 320e and 520e will return between 156.9mpg and 217.2mpg. CO2 emissions are equally low, with the former saloon returning as little as 29g/km and the latter claiming as little as 30g/km – meaning both cars will fall into the lowest UK road tax bracket for combustion engined cars.

However, the battery pack does eat into both cars’ boot space slightly. The new 320e saloon has a capacity of 375 litres, compared with 480 litres in the standard model. It’s the same story in the 520e, with boot space falling from 530 litres to 410 litres. BMW’s Touring models go some way to solving the issue, with capacity swelling to a maximum of 1,420 litres for the 320e and 1,560 litres for the 520e.

There’s some clever technology fitted to both cars, geared towards making them greener. For example, both these new BMWs feature a geofencing system in their sat-navs, which can recognise when the driver enters an emissions controlled area and automatically trip the powertrain to operate in pure-electric mode.

BMW has also made an attempt to incentivise efficient driving. For every kilometre driven on pure electricity, the driver receives one “BMW Point,” which can then be exchanged for electricity at one of the company’s public charging stations.

What do you make of the new entry-level BMW 3 Series and 5 Series PHEVs? Let us know in the comments section below…

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