Suavely charming, devoid of harshness and completely free of rough edges, the 2023 BMW 330e xDrive is smooth. I’m talking Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Chocolate mousse, Crème Brûlée, Bavarian Cheesecake, Silk pajamas, cashmere sweaters, Pima cotton sheets ….
Look, I could go on and on and on, I’m pretty sure you get my point.
The 2023 BMW 330e xDrive is preternaturally smooth.
Of course, one of the key pillars supporting BMW’s rep is the sophisticated manner in which its automobiles go. The fact that the 330e accomplishes this, while simultaneously delivering 26 miles per gallon, along with a delightful driving experience, is positively extraordinary.
The plug-in hybrid variant of BMW’s remarkably diverse 3 Series line-up, the 330e xDrive is a carefully blended cocktail of luxury, performance and economy. As such, it remains the benchmark against which all other competitors in this segment are judged.
Treated to a mild update for the 2023 model year, the most readily apparent change is inside the car where a slightly curved widescreen digital display now spans all but a third of the dashboard. Exterior changes include redesigned headlamps and a new treatment for the iconic twin kidney grilles, along with a new set of front and rear aprons.
The LED headlight treatment has been slimmed down. The daytime running lamps, which also contain the turn signals, are now arranged in the inverted “L” shape BMW’s stylists have used to good effect of late.
A double bar treatment has been incorporated into the grille’s vertical elements. Plus, the front apron has a more angular sculptural quality, into which are fitted larger air intakes than before.
From the rear perspective, the wheel arches are more prominently flared, the taillight treatment has been slimmed down and more horizontal lines are employed to give the car the appearance of a wider stance.
Eighteen-inch wheels are now standard across the board for all 3 Series models. A new color, Skyscraper Grey metallic, can also be had on all versions of the 3 Series. The other new color, Brooklyn Grey metallic, is exclusive to the M-Sport 330e and 330i, as well as the M340i.
Hosting a pair of digital monitors, the “BMW Curved Display” positions a 12.3-inch screen behind the steering wheel and a 14.9-inch touchscreen above the center stack. Taken at a glance, it appears to be a single unit measuring some 30+ inches across.
Beneath the curved display, one finds a dearth of buttons and switches. BMW, in its infinite wisdom, has decided touch and voice control will be the way one interacts with the comfort and convenience features of its cars in the foreseeable future.
While thoroughly modern, this does have a downside, about which I’ll go into more detail below.
Beyond those changes however, the interior of the 2023 330e remains quintessentially BMW. You’ll find a sumptuous blend of premium materials arranged into artful shapes with thoughtful ergonomics to bring maximum pleasure to the driving experience.
Anchored by a 2.0-liter direct injected turbocharged DOHC inline 4, the plug-in hybrid powertrain supplements the internal combustion engine with a permanent magnet electric motor. An 8-speed automatic transmission feeds all four wheels.
Regenerative braking feeds the 12-kWh battery found beneath the floor of the trunk. Plug-in charging is accommodated by a 3.7kW AC charger, which is said to be capable of rejuvenating the battery in roughly three hours at Level 2 induction.
Total system output is 288 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. I averaged 26 miles per gallon overall. Capable of traveling up to 23 miles as an EV, the 330e’s overall range is 310 miles.
Safety and Technology
Anyone who has spent time in a contemporary BMW model will tell you the marque has a penchant for complexity. The upside of this is one can configure various operational aspects of the car precisely to their own suiting. The downside is things that should be simple are often maddeningly complicated.
Here, while pretty much any task for which there used to be a button in the car can now be accomplished by either voice or touchscreen, some things are just easier and faster to do with a button.
Say, for example, you’re on the highway and suddenly see a big rig lock its brakes up ahead of you, generating a huge plume of blue tire smoke. By the time you either dig through the menus to find the recirculate function—or the voice system responds to your command to activate it—the interior will reek of eau de Michelin fumée. Meanwhile, a recirculate button on the dash would have let you block it the moment you saw the smoke.
That aside, some of the key comfort and convenience tech includes a head-up display, customizable ambient interior lighting, heated front and rear seats, remote start, and wireless charging.
Standard safety features include forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking. Ticking the right boxes on the options list will garner lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature and the Parking Assistance package, which will just about park the car for you.
Any discussion of riving impressions will bring me right back to the smoothness about which I gushed in the opening of this review. Radiating sheer and utter refinement in every driving circumstance imaginable, there’s a reason everything else in this class gets compared to the BMW 3 Series.
You’ll be hard pressed to believe the engine is a turbocharged four; such is the competence and confidence with which it delivers output. Granted, the electric motor does fill in space the turbo would otherwise leave, but the result is the closest imitation of a powerful inline six —which is another of the pillars supporting the brilliance of BMW’s rep—I’ve ever experienced.
Mind you now, this is before I even get into how gracefully the car covers miles on the highway, how masterfully it comports itself on twisty two lanes and how cordially it pampers occupants in day-to-day driving.
Simply put, this is a car you’ll drive because you like the way driving it feels.
2023 BMW 330e xDrive Specifications
|Dimension||Dimensions: L: 185.9 inches/W: 71.9 inches/H: 56.9 inches/Wheelbase: 112 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter turbo 16-valve I-4 with permanent magnet electric motor; 8-speed automatic, AWD|
|Fuel Economy||27 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $43,300; As tested: $56,990|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Times have changed, cars are evolving and electrification is increasingly becoming the norm. In the 2023 BMW 330e xDrive, we have something of a halfway house for petrol heads weaning themselves off the dino juice.
The car combines the comfort people take in the familiarity of the internal combustion engine with the seamlessness of character delivered by pure EVs.
Deliciously engaging to drive, the BMW 330e handily demonstrates the switch to electricity won’t necessarily decimate the joy of piloting a responsive automobile.
2023 BMW 330e xDrive — Frequently Asked Questions
Is the 2023 BMW 330e worth it?
Remarkably affordable for what it offers, the 330e offers a nice selection of standard features, good fuel economy and an engaging driving experience.
What is the range of the BMW 330e 2023?
The 330e is reported to travel up to 23 miles on electric power alone, and it is quoted to be capable of traveling up 310 miles using electricity and gasoline.
Does the BMW 330e charge itself while driving?
Yes, the 330e uses regenerative braking to charge itself while you drive.