Make no mistake, the BMW 330e iPerformance is an impressive bit of engineering. This 3 Series sedan is a plug-in hybrid that combines a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission with a battery-electric drivetrain to deliver two distinct modes of operation.
The trunk-mounted battery is compact enough to preserve most of the trunk volume, but with that comes a downside: The battery can only support a lackluster 14 miles of electric driving range. Regenerative braking and other electrification benefits improve gasoline fuel economy, but at 30 mpg combined, the gain is uninspiring. A gasoline-powered 330i (the mainstream four-cylinder 3 Series) that never has to be plugged in seems like a better deal because it achieves 27 mpg combined, weighs some 350 pounds less and costs considerably less than the 330e.
- Same premium interior and equipment as other 3 Series sedans
- Accelerates smartly when the gasoline engine is in the mix
- Plug-in battery takes only a small bite out of trunk space
- Engaging and well-balanced handling
- Only 14 miles of electric range and just 3 mpg better than 330i
- Steering feels limp compared to other current 3 Series sedans
- Big price jump from gasoline-only 330i