What Is It?
A slightly updated BMW 3 Series — with an exciting new powertrain — has officially debuted at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show. While exterior updates are highly subtle, a new plug-in hybrid model is major news for the popular 3 Series lineup.
Dubbed the 330e, the new plug-in hybrid 3 Series combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor and battery. According to BMW, the result is a combined 252 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, along with a 25-mile range (and a 75-mile-per-hour top speed) on electric power alone. Unfortunately, BMW has not yet confirmed if the 330e will make it to the U.S. market, where sales of the traditional hybrid ActiveHybrid 3 have been less than stellar.
Other changes to the 3 Series lineup are less notable. The sedan features a slightly revised front and rear end, along with new LED brake lights in back. There are also new paint colors, new alloy wheels, an improved head-up display, 4G LTE Internet connectivity and a new Parking Assistant feature that boasts an automated parallel-parking system.
A bigger change is one that BMW confirmed several months ago: a new 340i model that will replace last year’s 335i. It touts a 3.0-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder, much like the 335i, but it’s a new powerplant that will make 320 hp instead of 300. The new 340i will offer automatic or manual transmissions and rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.
Although BMW hasn’t yet announced U.S. pricing, we don’t expect a huge increase over the MSRP of today’s 3 Series. As for the new 330e, we’re not yet sure the model will reach the U.S. market — let alone what it will cost.
When Can You Get It?
Although the 330e’s U.S.-bound future is uncertain, the facelifted 3 Series will go on sale later this year.
Add It to Your Shopping List Because…
After years of refinement and improvement, the BMW 3 Series remains one of the best luxury sport sedans on the market. We have no doubt that the latest tweaked version will carry on the torch with excellent handling, impressive acceleration and a high-end interior. And we’d love to see the new 330e reach the U.S. market, if only to combine the traditional 3 Series driving experience with the frugal powertrain of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Audi A4 — Audi’s A4 has long been a top 3 Series rival. Though current models are getting older, the brand debuted a totally new A4 in Frankfurt that looks like it’s capable of giving the 3 Series a serious run for its money.
2016 Lexus IS — The recently updated Lexus IS offers a futuristic interior and lots of technology. It has a new (and more peppy) base-level turbocharged engine, too. But it doesn’t offer as many body-style choices or powertrain options as the 3 Series.
2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — The new C-Class offers excellent handling, powerful new engines and a thoroughly revised interior. We think it’s a serious contender for the best car in the luxury-sport-sedan segment.
2014 BMW 5 Series — If you like the look of the 3 Series but need more space or power, consider the larger 5 Series. It’s more expensive, though, so you may want to check out a used model.