Your introduction to the electric motor will be a muted one as you start up the engine, push the gear into ‘D’ and hear nothing as you drive.
Electric vehicles are the future! With more automakers producing cars that run on electricity instead of fossil fuels, the industry is aware of it too. But the future isn’t the present, and in the present, oil and gas companies rule the world in one form or another and large scale policy and infrastructure changes that need to be made across the globe to support all electric road vehicles is still some distance away.
So, we have hybrids instead – machines that run on both gas and electricity, to satisfy Big Oil and still be ready for the inevitable day they go bust.
Why the political lesson? Because your decision to buy the BMW 330e (for electric) could well come down to your own inner politics.
A Familiar Look
At first glance the BMW 330e M Sport looks exactly like previous 3-series M Sport iterations, except for the charging port behind the front left wheel, and the eDrive logo on the c-pillar. Now that’s not saying this isn’t a strikingly beautiful car; it is quite easily BMW’s best looking model after the i8, and may well be the best looking car in its entire segment when compared to its closest competitors; a bold claim maybe, but given that BMW’s design ethos hasn’t radically changed for decades, the fact that this car still looks attractive is a definite plus point.
The ‘M Sport’ variant of the 330e will set you back an extra RM10,000 and what you will get for that investment is a new body kit and suspension package that give the car a distinctively aggressive look and gait as it sits 10mm lower on its 18-inch light alloy wheels.
The M Sport logo is also strategically placed around the car to casually announce that “Yes, this is the M Sport!”
On the inside of the 330e, a blue accent stripe that runs across the dashboard and the doors, coupled with the M logo on the steering wheel, serve the same function.
There isn’t a need to sugar coat what it feels like to floor the pedal and be introduced to 420Nm of torque.
It. Is. Awesome.
Part of that awesomeness is owed to the ‘e’ behind the 330. The standard 2.0 litre twin-turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine puts out a max output of 184hp and 290Nm of torque, but gets a boost up to 252hp and 420Nm of torque courtesy of the electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery.
While the extra power looks delicious on paper, and feels like it on the road, it is counteracted slightly by the motor and batteries that add almost 190kg of weight to the car.
But the weight gain is barely discernable as the 330e steers quite nimbly on straights and comes in handy around turns as it keeps the car firmly attached to the road without any risk of understeer. It sails without a shake or a shock even as you hit a top speed of 225km/h.
The 330e costs a whole RM17,000 more than BMWs next lowest model, the 320i, and the M Sport will rack up an additional RM10,000; so if you’re going to fork out the extra cash, you’re going to want to put the ‘e’ and ‘M’ to full use.
Your introduction to the electric motor will be a muted one as you start up the engine, push the gear into ‘D’ and hear nothing as you drive. You can choose between three electric modes – Auto, which lets the car decide when to use which power source, Max eDrive which turns it fully electric and Save Battery which turns the car into a petrol vehicle carrying 190kg of weight.
At full charge, the electric motor and batteries should manage a range of up to 30km on full electric mode although if you’re relying solely on the battery, you might want to shave off a few kilometres on that 30 to be safe.
Charging works like any other electric vehicle, with an add-on cable at a public charging station or with an add-on home charging unit that plugs straight into a 3-pin power outlet. Charge times range from 2-hours at a charging station to 5-hours at home, which works if you’re charging overnight, provided you have a power outlet within range; not something that everyone has.
The 330e is supposed to manage a combined consumption rate of 2.1 litres per 100km, which may be possible if you set the car up and continuously drive with the aim to hit that goal, but it wasn’t something I managed. Even if you don’t hit that magic number, the 330e will still save you a fair bit so there isn’t much to complain about.
No vehicle is without a few drawbacks but most of the 330e’s are negligible.
The interior is a little dated and underwhelming. The navigation system, like the ones found in almost every continental car is redundant to drivers who rely on apps for that purpose and the entire infotainment interface feels a little unfriendly. But these are gripes of someone who only had the car for a few days; in the long run, you would probably adapt and just step on the pedal to enjoy the ride.
The BMW 330e M Sport isn’t an electric car, and it really isn’t trying to be so if that’s what you’re looking for, it isn’t the car for you. The 330e is a pure BMW that’s taking the company closer to the future with its electric technology. Its electric range is limited, but its savings, to the planet as much as your wallet is apparent.
And that brings us back to the politics – the present isn’t fully designed for comfortable ownership of electric vehicles, even one with the BMW badge, but will you be willing to rough it out now for a better future?
Me? I just can’t get enough of that torque. If you’re in the market and got RM258,800 to spare, the BMW 330e M Sport is a no-brainer.
(Photos: Reshween Maan)