BMW 330e parked on hill
Ryan Darby

Ryan Darby

Ryan is the Content Marketing Executive at Carparison, keeping you up to date on our socials. He also takes the lead on our fantastic car reviews, and with his experience, is the perfect person to make sure you have all the information you need.

Read time of 8 minutes.

A timeless classic is now even better with hybrid engines

The 3 Series has always represented the very best of the BMW line-up.

Popular among families, company car drivers and well, just about anyone, it has been a vehicle for every occasion. Refusing to rest on their laurels, BMW launched an impressive range of hybrid engines, including the 330e, which is the variant that we have been testing.

Hybrid saloons come with a whole host of benefits, especially for those in the business lease sector, which makes it an extremely competitive class.

The 3 Series is jostling with the likes of the Volvo S60 or the Mercedes C300 e, both of which are compelling alternatives.

To see just how good the 330e really is, we’re testing out its driving capabilities, everyday space and technology. Here’s what we found.

BMW 330e parked by bush

What did we drive?

Model: 330e M Sport Saloon

Transmission: Automatic

Power: Petrol Plug in-Hybrid

Colour: Mineral Grey

Wheels: 19" Bicolour Jet Black Double-spoke style

OTR from: £33,250

Price of model driven: from £48,670

*Prices correct at the time of publication

Price

Entry-level prices in the 3 Series range are competitive at around £33,000. However, you do have to be wary of the various add-ons and packs that include all the necessary mod-cons you’ll want.

As you progress deeper into the range and into the M Sport spec, the prices naturally rise. Our 3 Series included the Comfort Pack, Technology Pack and the M Sport Pro package, which takes the price much closer to the £50,000 mark.

For a premium hybrid, that remains competitively priced. The Volvo S60 is narrowly more affordable at around £47,000, while range-topping Audi A4 models can go above and beyond £50,000 and don’t offer that same hybrid efficiency that you can achieve from the 330e.

If you’re looking into business car leasing, the 330e is one way to create a more affordable monthly payment. Its Benefit in Kind tax rates are a staggeringly low 11%, opening a world of benefits for business customers.

BMW 330e side profile

Engine Options

There is a variety of engine options in the 3 Series range, depending on the model you choose.

We were testing the 330e, which includes a 2 litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, which combined with its 83kW electric motor, produces 292 horsepower.

At every level, there’s a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines, as outlined below;

Petrol

318i – Automatic – 156hp - from £33,250

320i – Automatic – 184hp - from £35,645

320i xDrive – Automatic – 184hp – from £37,610

330i – Automatic – 258hp - from £41,085

Diesel

318d – Manual & Automatic – 150hp - from £37,155

320d – Automatic – 190hp - from £38,705

320d xDrive – Automatic – 190hp - from £40,295

330d – Automatic – 286hp - from £43,300

330d xDrive – Automatic – 286hp - from £44,850

Plug-in Hybrid

330e – Automatic – 292hp - from £41,330

330e xDrive – Automatic – 292hp - from £42,880

While it may not be the right choice for everyone, we would recommend one of the two hybrid engines as our pick of the bunch. Though you do pay more initially for that hybrid luxury, the benefits that follow certainly go some way to justifying the cost.

BMW 330e driving around corner

Drive

A reliable, assuring drive has always been guaranteed with the 3 Series and some things never change.

The best compliment that I can give it is how effortless it was to drive. You can see why company car drivers choose it as their vehicle of choice to get from A to B. I can’t imagine you’ll struggle to really rack up the miles in one of these.

The hybrid engine allows for a wide range of driving modes. By default, the car will drive as efficiently as possible, but you can also utilise a fully electric mode.

BMW claim it will achieve around 36 miles of pure electric driving. We found the real-world range to be somewhere between the high 20s and 30 mile point and though it depleted quite quickly, it is a nice addition to have.

The steering remains nice and agile, but by no means flighty. There’s a great sense of control as you’re on the move, especially when the gearbox is so seamless to transition through the motions.

You can’t extract all the 3 Series’ power without putting it into ‘XtraBoost’ mode, and even then, you only get it in short bursts.

It can all be done relatively easily through a touch of a button, but it was a shame to not have all the 292 horsepower there to utilise if required.

Fitted with the M Adaptive Suspension, you can sometimes feel more of the bumps and dips, but generally the 3 Series reacts well.

BMW 330e design

Design & Interior

The 330e is a trademark BMW design, sharing similar traits to other models like the 2 Series. It’s very smart, refined and exactly what we would expect from the German manufacturer.

The high-gloss Shadowline Trim adds character to the vehicle and gives it a sporty edge. However, I have to say that all the presence and stance comes from the rear of the vehicle. It’s so muscular and bulky – in a good way. If you’re after imposing looks, this is a BMW lease you have to consider.

The red brake calipers look so smart and complimented our Mineral Grey colour very nicely. During our BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Review, we had the blue brake calipers with the same Mineral Grey colour – having compared the two, the red adds a nice pop colour to proceedings.

BMW 330e interior design

Once you set foot inside, it all feels very BMW. Comfort levels are as high as you would expect. If we were being picky, the ride comfort would’ve been enhanced with the optional front lumbar support.

However, the blend of materials used throughout all feel premium and high quality. The attention to detail in the M Sport features, like the seat belts and steering wheel, elevate car’s premium underpinnings – it’s a very, very nice place to be.

BMW 330e interior space

Space & Practicality

For a hybrid saloon, the space on offer inside the 330e is competitive. There’s no hiding the fact you do compromise on what’s available in the combustion engine alternatives, but you do have that all-important hybrid efficiency.

You get 375 litres of storage space to play with in the boot – this is around 100L worse off than the petrol or diesel equivalents. At 375L, it’s a good space for this class – more than enough to handle your daily commute and a small family will get by just fine.

Even if you were to choose an ICE variant, ultimately, you’re still left with a saloon boot. It’s a practical space, don’t get me wrong, but they do come with the obvious limitations.

Head and legroom in the rear is competitive for the saloon class. Six footers will be comfortable in the 330e, even on a slightly longer journey.

The addition of the sunroof does open up what would’ve been an otherwise dark and gloomy cabin. The natural light makes it feel more spacious and welcoming.

Elsewhere you have practical storage space in the form of reasonably-sized armrest compartment, door bins and glove box.

BMW 330e interior technology

Technology

BMW’s technology continues to impress. They keep it so simple and easy to use.

The combination of the iDrive controller, 10.25inch touchscreen and shortcut buttons, as well as the shortcuts available on the steering wheel mean there is something to please everyone.

If you’ve ever spent time in a BMW before, you’ll feel right at home. If you’ve not, you’ll be perfectly acquainted in no time – which speaks volumes about the quality of the design.

From a visual perspective, it doesn’t look as modern as something you might find in the Mercedes equivalent, and this is certainly an element where they could be left behind in the years to come. However, for now, because the usability is so strong, it remains one of the best on the road.

The BMW navigation system is a competitive alternative to the likes of Google Maps or Waze, which is a rarity in itself.

Your connectivity options include wireless charging, a USB port and a 12V socket in the centre console. There’s another USB C in the armrest, two more USB ports in the rear for your passengers, who also benefit from dual-zone climate control.

The optional harman/kardon sound system is brilliant and worth the upgrade if you're looking for the best possible entertainment system. 

BMW 330e driving past tree

Safety

The BMW 3 Series has one of the best EURO NCAP safety ratings around. Not only did it secure five stars, but it also boasts a 97% safety score for adult occupants. This is higher than both the rival offerings from Mercedes and Volvo.

Entry level 3 Series models come with Adaptive LED Headlights, Front and Rear Parking Sensors and Parking Assistant with Reversing Camera among other driving assistance technologies and safety features.

Front and rear parking sensors are a useful addition, as you do feel the length of the car when behind the wheel, so for any nervous parkers, this was a very handy feature to call upon.

BMW 330e detailing badges

Model Lines & Equipment

SE Pro – from £32,595

  • 17" 778 V-spoke Alloy Wheels
  • Active Air Stream Kidney Grille
  • Adaptive LED Headlights
  • Acoustic Glass
  • Ambient Lighting
  • High-gloss Black Interior Trim
  • Rear-view Mirror with Auto-dimming
  • Cruise Control
  • Front and Rear Parking Sensors
  • Cruise Control
  • Parking Assistant with Reversing Camera
  • Live Cockpit Professional
  • Front LED Foglights

Sport Pro – from £40,295

(In addition/replacement of SE Pro)

  • 18" 780 V-spoke Bi-colour Orbit Grey Alloy Wheels
  • High-Gloss Shadowline Exterior Trim
  • Welcome Light
  • Backrest Width Adjustment
  • Front Heated Seats
  • Split Folding Rear Seats
  • Sport Automatic Transmission with Gearshift Paddles
  • Sport Leather Steering Wheel
  • Vernasca Leather Upholstery

M Sport – from £34,345

(In addition/replacement of Sport)

  • 18" 790 M Double-spoke Bi-colour Orbit Grey Alloy Wheels
  • M Designation on front side panels
  • M Sport Brakes with Blue Calipers (330i/d only)
  • M Sport Exterior Styling
  • Aluminium Tetragon Interior Trim
  • Anthracite Headlining
  • Front Sport Seats
  • M Sport Leather Steering Wheel
  • Variable Sport Steering (excluding 330e)
  • M Sport Suspension

M Sport Pro Edition – from £44,465

  • 19" 791 M Double-spoke Jet Black Alloy Wheels with RFT
  • Black Mirror Caps
  • BMW Individual Shadowline Lights
  • BMW M Sport Pro Edition Unique Paintwork
  • Extended High-gloss Shadowline Exterior Trim
  • M Sport Seat Belts
  • Individual Aluminium Fabric Interior Trim
  • Sun Protection Glass
  • M Adaptive Suspension
  • M Sport Differential (330i/d)

M340i/d xDRIVE – from £50,560

  • 19" 792 M Double-spoke Bi-colour Cerium Grey Alloy Wheels
  • Cerium Grey finish
  • M Sport Brakes with Red Calipers
  • Two Square Exhaust Tailpipes
  • Sensatec Dashboard
  • BMW Performance Control
  • HiFi Loudspeaker Audio System

*Model lines correct at the time of publication

BMW 330e parked by fence

Verdict

BMW have done it again. They’ve produced a brilliant, versatile car that is there to be driven, but it is also a car that can simply guide you on your way in the height of comfort.

The refinement, the luxury, the comfort, it’s all there and you know exactly what you’re getting from the 3 Series.

Its Benefit in Kind tax benefits are clear to see, so I can completely understand why it’s the business car of choice. But make no mistake about it, if you're looking for a BMW lease deal, the 3 Series is more than just a workhorse for company car drivers, there's something for everyone.

Interested in a BMW 3 Series lease deal? Browse our latest personal contract hire offers and business lease deals now