The BMW 3 Series is adding a new groundbreaking variant to its line-up with the launch of the BMW 330e iPerformance. Equipped with the latest plug-in hybrid drive system, the 330e iPerformance will mark the first time for these BMW i technologies to be part of a premium model. Even with the use of traditional combustion engines, the BMW 3 Series Sedan had long set the benchmarks in its class when it comes to performance and fuel economy.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this, including the wide-ranging use of its BMW EfficientDynamics technology, built-in as a standard. It also has outstanding aerodynamics for a vehicle in its segment and it uses a lightweight design.
The BMW 330e iPerformance is priced starting at $44,695, which includes Destination and Handling. It will be available at authorized dealers by the summer of 2016. Inside the 330e iPerformance, the combustion engine is one that is based on the brand’s four-cylinder gas unit but has the BMW TwinPower Turbo technology.
This same technology has already been given the International Engine of the Year Award twice. Among the main features that stand out in addition to the sporty power delivery is the maximum 180 hp output and top torque at 215 lb.-ft.
Powering its electric motor is a lithium-ion battery that carries 7.6 kWh (gross) or 5.7 kWh (net). With this, the electric motor can reach 87 hp with maximum torque measured at 184 lb.-ft. The power electronics makes use of the BMW eDrive technology which is already standard in both the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 models.
Its high-voltage battery, which also includes the battery management system and the very efficient direct cooling system, was made specifically for the BMW i. Once the battery is drained, it can be easily recharged using any available domestic power socket.
Furthermore, the battery has been mounted flat just beneath its load compartment, protecting it against crashes. Going back to its power electronics, we’ve learned that it has been configured in a way that a single integrated system, through its liquid-cooled inverter, is what drives the electric motor. The system is also responsible for ensuring that the energy goes from the battery to its on-board electrical systems and supplies the centralized control of its hybrid-specific functions.
As a result, the entire system of the 330e iPerformance delivers a maximum 248 hp output with 310 lb.-ft. of maximum torque. It can reach a 140 mph peak speed and is capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in merely 5.9 seconds. Running purely on electricity, the 330e iPerformance can reach a top speed of 75 mph with maximum range estimated at 14 miles. In addition, its electric boost function is always enabled.
As a result, the electric motor always supplements the power delivered by its combustion engine with torque of 74 lb.-ft. and gives that extra torque of up to 184 lb.-ft., depending on the current speed. Ensuring that the rear wheels get the power that is produced by both the combustion engine and its electric motor is the Steptronic Sport eight-speed Automatic transmission with shift paddles.
Regardless of which of the two drive systems are used, the transmission ratios are always in effect which ensures that the thermal and mechanical load placed on its electric motor is lowered when undergoing sustained high revolutions.
This results in a positive benefit to the electric drive system’s operating life. It also implies that there would be no need for a torque converter, which means that to some extent it can cancel the added weight of an extra drive unit. Similar to other BMW models powered by combustion engines, the Steptronic transmission in the 330e iPerformance allows for low friction losses thereby contributing to the high efficiency of its drive system.
Drivers of the 330e iPerformance can choose between three settings through the eDrive button located in its center console. These three settings are AUTO eDRIVE, SAVE BATTERY, and MAX eDRIVE, and enable the plug-in hybrid drive system to adjust to how the car is currently being used. Under the AUTO eDRIVE setting, the combustion engine and its electric motor work together in order to optimize all possible driving situations.
It also allows for a 50 mph maximum speed when running solely on electricity. This is the default setting of the 330e iPerformance and is what’s activated when the car is started. The SAVE BATTERY setting meanwhile offers two operating settings. Once the charge of the battery goes under 50%, the battery is charged up to 50% using the combustion engine. If the battery’s charge is above 50%, the system “freezes” the charge level to ensure that any electric energy left can still be utilized for the rest of the trip.
Finally there is the MAX eDRIVE. Under this setting, the 330e iPerformance uses purely electric power. While this gives it only a range of 14 miles, the whole trip has zero emissions. Even then it can attain full power and reach maximum speed of 75 mph. the combustion engine however can be activated anytime, like when the accelerator is pressed to the point beyond its kick down position. This typically occurs when the vehicle needs extra power like when overtaking.
One of the key features of the 330e iPerformance is its intelligent energy management. It is fitted with the hybrid-specific Proactive Driving Assistant that works in tandem with the BMW navigation system. This particular function in fact shows how the BMW ConnectedDrive technology relates with the BMW EfficientDynamics. Once the route guidance function has been activated for example, the navigation system gets all of the information on the route and then uses the data in order to control how the two drive units will respond.
The system makes use of real-time information like the present traffic situation and static data like gradient information and speed restrictions from the interactive map. Because of this proactive energy management, the 330e iPerformance can use the information to determine which part of the route the electric drive system will be used and which one will use the combustion engine.
This energy management system can determine if the 330e iPerformance can drive through residential areas or if the battery has enough charge when it is driven through the entire town when using purely electricity. It can even determine if the vehicle can solely use the electric drive system when the destination is near.
When the same system recognizes that the road is going uphill, it prepares the electric energy in order for the system to get its full recuperation potential once the vehicle is going downhill. As such, the Proactive Driving Assistant not only allows the 330e iPerformance to be driven without any emissions but it also allows it to be driven for long trips but with minimal impact to the environment.
Since the 330e iPerformance is a plug-in hybrid, it means that it is possible for it to be externally charged using the main power supply. Using a BMW i Wallbox Level II 240V charger, it can fully charge the lithium-ion battery in merely two and a half hours.
The charger has a power of 3.5 kW and can be easily installed at home or in the office. The other option is to use a standard domestic power socket, or Level I 120V charger, with the available standard charging cable. However when the battery is empty, it will take an estimated 6 to 7 hours to fully charge the battery. BMW 360° ELECTRIC is also offering solutions to ensure easy charging even when on the road.
Its BMW i mobility service ChargeNow allows access to what can be considered as the largest public charging station network in the world. It offers more than 30,000 charging points that are managed by its partners in 22 different countries.
Locating and even using the charging stations managed by the company’s partners has also been made an easy and simple process through the BMW ConnectedDrive, the BMW ConnectedDrive app and even the ChargeNow app. The ChargeNow card in particular helps with convenient billing and payment without the use of cash.