Green, Mean Machine
Richard Augustin 
The 330e is a powerful drive with an eco-friendly twist

The arrival of plug-in hybrids in Malaysia has a two prong effect. First, thanks to the government’s hybrid and EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicle) incentives, it has made these vehicles enticingly affordable. Second, and perhaps more importantly, these cars are helping to create electric charging infrastructure, thus lowering carbon emissions on the road in the future.

Although the country has a long way to go before the electric revolution is fully embraced, we are nevertheless taking the right (baby) steps towards it. The BMW 330e is one of the vehicles responsible for this and it is helping to create a greener future for drivers without compromising on performance and driving pleasure.


Sporty by nature

The 330e M Sport, introduced here in the first quarter of the year, affords the German plug-in hybrid with additional styling cues from BMW’s renowned performance division. The result of the M Aero package, 18-inch alloys and chrome bits as well as M Sport logos deliver a sportier look for this hybrid machine.

The front of the car is rounded off with the signature BMW double kidney grille with LED light units. An electric glass roof adds a dash of style to this four-wheeled German beauty. In terms of colour options, the BMW 330e M Sport is offered in Black Sapphire, Mineral Grey, Estoril Blue and Alpine White.

BMW is one of the most advanced players in the hybrid category

M-enhanced interior

The sporty motif is carried into the cabin of the car as well with a clean and performance-inspired interior. The cabin is embellished with a prominent blue stripe that runs through the dashboard, the BMW Individual headliner in anthracite, the sports seats with electric memory for the driver, and the M leather steering wheel with sport and multifunction buttons.

In terms of modern creature comforts, the 330e offers a rear view camera and the  Navigation System Professional featuring a high-resolution 3D display on an 8.8-inch display monitor. The inclusion of paddle shifters and a heads-up display drives home the message that the 330e is first and foremost a driver’s car, which is what the BMW brand has always been known for.


Refined power

Under the hood, the 330e features the same B48 engine found in the 320i that outputs 184 hp and 290 Nm of torque from 1350 rpm. However, the hybrid sports sedan benefits from an additional boost of power from the electric motor, which affords the 330e a combined output of 248 hp and 420 Nm of torque, which is more than adequate for a spirited drive.

Drive is sent to the rear wheels through the trusty eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The performance numbers speak volumes about the vehicle’s capabilities with a century sprint clocking in at 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 225kmh. That said, it is also highly effective in full EV mode, with a 35km range on a full charge.


Silky, smooth drive

Although sporting the hybrid badge, the 330e is no slouch in the performance department and offers drivers the same thrilling drive that make BMW cars so adored. With the electric motor providing an extra boost of power before the petrol engine kicks in, the sports sedan certainly has more than just a spring in its step.

The M Sport Suspension Package further cements its abilities on the tarmac with a ride that is safe and comfortable, but also athletic when the situation calls for it. Off the line, the 330e is smooth and effortless; in congested environments like a traffic jam, the vehicle is able to manoeuvre streets quite effortlessly on electric power alone.

But the 30-plus kilometre range does require constant charging for it to be fully effective, a small matter that is easily solved with the installation of a charge point at home and at the office. Or you can always drive around to one of the nearby Petronas stations equipped with a charging bay to juice up the car.


The future of driving

Plug-in hybrids are now increasing in numbers on local roads thanks to its affordability. But don’t mistake the 330e to be just another value-added option to consider for a switch up into this green mobility segment. Not only does it deliver a lower monthly fuel bill and lower carbon emissions, it does so with zero compromise on driveability and fun.

Equipped with the BMW ConnectedDrive, a driver can also interact with his car and control certain functions like remotely activating the car’s air conditioning system as well as monitor the battery’s charging status via the new BMW Connected App on a mobile device. Add the BMW’s 5-Years unlimited mileage warranty, free scheduled service and the BMW tyre warranty programme, and the 330e is not just great value but a really smart purchase.


Engine: 2.0 turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol
Capacity: 1998cc
Motor: Synchronous Electric Motor (88 hp/250 Nm)
Maximum power: 248 hp
Maximum torque: 420 Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic with Steptronic
0-100km/h: 6.1 seconds
Top speed: 225km/h
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 2.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 49
Price: RM258,800 (on the road, without insurance)

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 258.