ROADTEST: BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto

It is easy to see the attraction of hybrids. especially ones which come as exciting and well-appointed as the BMW 330e.

BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto
BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto

After all, electric cars have come a long way in recent times but they still have some way to go before they can be considered the default position for many drivers.

If you have ever tried an electric car, you will probably have experienced range anxiety. It's where you suddenly realise that you don't have enough spark in your tank to reach the next plug-in charger point.

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This new phenomenon is awful and it remains one of two big obstacles which are putting the brakes on the motoring revolution. The other is price.

So until we get a denser network of charging points and a cheaper cost for buying electric cars, drivers will continue to linger longer on petrol and diesel. And who can blame them?

But there is another route, the hybrid. Tested here is one of the brightest such offerings, the dashing BMW 330e.

This is a stunning car which offers all you would expect of a BMW sports estate - sharp style, excellent balance, brilliant engines and arguably the best cabins in the business.

But this also adds a plug-in electric motor which means your car has incredibly low emissions and incredibly high miles er gallon.

Emissions are 39g/km, which means your road tax is zero. And if you keep the car properly charged up so you don't rely on the diesel engine, you can manage 176 miles per gallon. That's excellent for any car, let alone a testosterone-fuelled sportster like this.

BMW is a leading manufacturer of pure electric cars these days, but is also hedging its bets by tempting conservative drivers who are not ready to take the plunge just yet with these halfway house hybrid models.

BMW has increased customer choice when it comes to plug-in hybrid drives in the premium mid-range segment. The electrified BMW 3 Series line up has been expanded from one model to four.

Following the successful launch of the new BMW 330e Saloon, the new BMW 330e Touring is tested here. To complete the four-model line-up, both models are also offered with the intelligent all-wheel drive system, BMW xDrive, as well as rear-wheel drive.

BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto

The latest-generation BMW eDrive technology offers efficiencies. The Saloon’s combined fuel consumption ranges from 176mpg to 201mpg. The Touring returns a combined fuel consumption from 176mpg and emissions from 39g/km.

But it is not just down to economics. The hybrid powertrain not only increases efficiency and electrically powered range for all 3 Series plug-in hybrid models, it also enhances driving dynamics.

The instant power delivery of the electric motor is stunning. The lithium-ion high-voltage batteries feature cell technology that promotes high energy content and enables the new 3 Series plug-in hybrid models to run on electrical power for a maximum range of around 36 miles.

The battery cells have an exceptionally high storage capacity and extensive energy supply. The electrical energy stored is also used to supply the vehicle electrical system. This means that a generator powered by the combustion engine is no longer necessary.

BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto

It has other technological benefits too. Brake-energy recuperation gives efficient battery charging on the move. With a BMW iWallbox, these charging operations can be completed within 2.4 hours up to 80 per cent of its total capacity and 3.4 hours to achieve full capacity. The high-voltage battery can also be charged via household sockets.

A totally flat battery can absorb 80 per cent of its total capacity within 4.2 hours while 5.7 hours is the estimated period required for a 100 per cent recharge.

This means the incredibly high economy figures claimed should be attainable for most people.

It is a dashingly well equipped car. All plug-in hybrid models in the new BMW 3 Series are fitted as standard with active pedestrian protection. When running on electric power at speeds of up to 19mph, an unmistakeable sound designed for electrified BMW models is generated to alert other road users.

Standard kit includes three-zone automatic air conditioning and air conditioning. Temperatures can be set before your journey via a smartphone.

Features include an automatic anti-dazzle interior mirror alongside anti-dazzle folding exterior mirrors and Parking Assistant which combines a rear view camera with an automated parking system. BMW Live Cockpit ConnectedDrive, which includes full voice control, includes full navigation, Remote Services, Apple CarPlay and Connected Music as standard.

The M Sport Plus package includes the Adaptive M suspension featuring sports steering.

Parking Assistant Plus also includes a recorder which allows the front, rear and side-facing cameras to act as evidence recorders.

One day, you may be happy to drive electric. For now, perhaps a hybrid 3 Series is the answer.

FACT FILE: BMW 330e M Sport Touring Auto

Price: £43,635

Engine: A 1,998cc four cylinder diesel engine plus an electric motor

Power: 292bhp

Performance: Top speed 149mph and 0 to 60mph in 7.1 seconds

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with sequential mode and rear-wheel-drive

Costs: 176mpg average

Insurance: Group 30E

Emissions: 39g/km

Warranty: Three years, unlimited miles