BMW 330e M Sport first drive: A 292hp hybrid saloon

The BMW 330e is a 3 Series plug-in hybrid saloon that not only delivers better performance over the pure petrol or diesel variant, but also significantly lowers tailpipe emissions. This makes it a sensible choice for company car buyers looking to lower their Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax bill.

TotallyEV drove the German manufacturer’s 330e M Sport, which at the time of writing starts from £41,450.

Read next: BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport first drive: A 394hp plug-in hybrid SUV

BMW 330e M Sport models

There are a multitude of 330 trims available: SE, Sport, M Sport, M Sport Pro Edition and M Model. Within the M Sport category alone, there are 18 variations to choose from – four petrol plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), five petrol models and nine diesel variations.

Frankly, it’s all a bit confusing and we’d have liked the differences to have been a little more clear-cut and further, explained to consumers.

BMW 330e specs

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The main thing to note is that the xDrive variants operate on an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, while the ‘regular’ models are rear-wheel drive (RWD). If you don’t live in a snowy environment, we’d lean toward the RWD model.

The PHEV (330e) uses a petrol engine, whereby the combustion engine provides 135 kW (184 hp) of power and the electric motor adds another 83 kW (113 hp) into the mix. As a result, there’s up to 215 kW (292 hp) of power at your disposal.

Better still, its WLTP CO2 emissions sits at 31-37g/km. By comparison, the few thousand pound-cheaper petrol variant (320i) that has 135 kW (184 hp) of power emits 154-164g/km of CO2. This leads to around 25% difference in Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax; a sizeable amount for those opting to buy a company car.

BMW 330e front

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BMW 330e M Sport design

No matter which M Sport model you choose, they’re near-identical from the exterior – of course, the 330e features a charging port, which is located under a flap by the passenger’s side A-pillar.

While we’re not a fan of the 330e’s front grille, the rest of the saloon’s exterior design does look the part. It’s, to us, both a family or corporate-friendly design combined with a sporty twist.

As standard, the 330e comes with 18″ Bicolour Orbit Grey Double-spoke style 790 M light-alloy wheels, where 19″ alloys are a £750 option, too. The model pictured has the former rims.

When it comes to the colours, we had a ‘Mineral White’ metallic finish; black, grey, orange and blue are an option too, while the non-metallic ‘Alpine White’ saves £670 being added onto the bill.

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BMW 330e M Sport comfort & interior

Inside, the 330e personifies the vehicle’s exterior. It’s got a sporty and practical design that oozes a premium feel. Starting from the all-leather upholstery, which is available in different colours: black, mocha, oyster and cognac; whereas the £500 Black with Blue stitching Vernasca Leather adds subtle M-style stitching throughout the cabin. The vehicle’s trim can be also customised with a wood or high-gloss finish.

We like the car’s interior design and how this translates to the car’s driving comfort. Both the bucket-like front seats and non-adjustable rear seats are well-designed. At the front, the seats are both comfortable and sturdy, whereby you won’t slide around when taking corners at speed and equally won’t feel uncomfortable when you’re doing long-distance drives.

The rear seats, however, are a little stiff and headroom is an issue for taller-sized individuals, namely in the middle seat.

BMW 330e steering wheel

The BMW 330e also has a whole host of optional packages that can lead to a better in-cabin experience: the £1,900 ‘Technology Pack’ adds a head-up display, a Harman Kardon surround sound system and gesture controls for the main infotainment display; the £990 ‘Comfort Pack’ adds steering wheel heating, makes for easier access and a powered boot lid; while the £1,700 ‘Premium Pack’ includes lumbar support for the front seats, electric glass sunroof and electric front seats.

BMW 330e temperature

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Elsewhere, it’s great to see the German manufacturer has retained physical temperature controls – most manufacturers seem to have transitioned to touch-based sliders, which aren’t as responsive or as easy to use.

As for the infotainment display, the M Sport trim brings ‘BMW Live Cockpit Professional’, which means the 10.23″ screen has the ability to take both physical and touch-based inputs. Behind the steering wheel, a 12.3″ display provides a digital instrument cluster and makes for quick customisation.

BMW 330e gear selector

Much like the BMW X5 xDrive45e M Sport, the car’s gear selector is crowded with buttons and controls, which frankly make the centre console a bit overcrowded. We’d have preferred the infotainment controls further down the centre console, and the gear selector at the centre. Of course, it’s subjective and we understand there’s limited space in this area of the car’s cabin.

Read next: MG ZS EV review: An affordable all-electric SUV

BMW 330e M Sport performance

Through the centre console, you can select the car’s drive modes: Sport, Hybrid and Electric. The latter mode will last 37 miles on a single charge and is better used in conjunction with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

Here, the sport automatic transmission deals well with the switch between fully electric and petrol-operated power; especially when you put your foot down. The electric motor delivers instantly available torque – 300 Nm to be exact – which translates to a 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds. Not too shabby, when the car weighs 1,845 kg. Top speed sits at around 142mph.

BMW 330e wheels

Despite the car’s ability to seamlessly switch between the two modes of available power, the 330e is just a little dull to drive. Having driven a variety of M cars, we find the 330e a little tame, almost a bit too refined for our liking. This could be down to the additional 280kg of weight the electrified powertrain brings to the car’s chassis.

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Similarly, the steering wheel feels a little disconnected from the car’s wheels; as if it’s electronically programmed to steer for you, rather than have you deal with the road yourself. Still, the 330e handles well when driven at pace around country roads and its suspension provides a relatively smooth experience when driven over potholes or speed bumps.

BMW 330e badge

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As for driving range, aside the quoted 37 miles from its electric drive system, the car will net around 550 miles with its 40-litre petrol tank. As for its 12 kWh battery pack, it’ll accept only up to 3.7 kW, which means a full charge takes 3h 25mins when connected to an appropriate Type 2 charging station.

Read next: Lamborghini Sián Roadster: A hybrid hypercar

BMW 330e M Sport first impressions

Upon first impressions, the BMW 330e is a great option for those who are looking to buy a company car or if you’re a fleet manager looking to switch your workers to a nippy saloon. It is, however, not going to better your eco credentials with a claimed 37 miles of pure electric range and isn’t as fun to drive as a regular 3 Series or a hearty M-badge BMW.

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These are, of course, our first impressions of the car. Let us know in the comments below or via social media what you make of the BMW 330e – we’re on: YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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