Some electrified cars can’t stop shouting about their green credentials, but the 2021 BMW 330e sedan is a little more surreptitious about its plug-in hybrid status. Then again, were I a member of the latest 3 Series family, I’d probably not want my electric drive to potentially overshadow the rest of the features that have long made BMW’s compact sedan a best-seller. It’s all about balance, and when it comes to going green that can be a tricky thing to judge.
First, the familiar. Take a glance at the 2021 330e and you might struggle to see the differences between it and a non-hybrid version. Same chromed grille at the front – looking, I have to say, positively conservative in both size and shape compared to the snouts of some other recent BMW models – and same handsome rear-wheel drive proportions. Nobody is going to find the latest 3 Series offensive, and whether you see that as an advantage or otherwise depends on how close to design trends you like to skirt.
BMW knows that not everyone wants an EV yet, and for those who aren’t yet ready to make a full transition, it’s brought to market the perfect blend of electric augmentation and the benchmark in the compact luxury sedan segment. Meet the new 2021 BMW 3 Series Hybrid, or for those who like their alphanumerical names, the BMW 330e and 330e xDrive. Based on the seventh generation G20 3 Series platform, the new plug-in hybrid derivatives aim to blend all the composure, handling dynamics, and luxury of the standard 3 Series range with the performance and environmental benefits of hybridization, following in the footsteps of the original ActiveHybrid 3 and F30 330e hybrid.
With BMW getting the hang of electrification and hybridization, the lessons learned have now been brought into the ever-popular 3 Series infrastructure. Slotting in at the lower end of the 3 Series hierarchy, the 330e twins find themselves with more power than the base 330i, bridging the gap between it and the range-topping BMW M340i. With the world rapidly transitioning to electricity as the prime means of propulsion, could the 3 Series Hybrid be the best interpretation of the icon for the modern era?