BMW’s 3-Series Hybrid Is The Electrified Modest Driving Machine

Illustration for article titled BMW’s 3-Series Hybrid Is The Electrified Modest Driving Machine

Just days after announcing a technological tie-up with hybrid-king Toyota, BMW announces a new hybrid version of the 3er. Is this a slap in the face of "the ultimate driving machine," or is it finally a hybrid we can love?


Not all hybrids are sedate transportation cubes, as the recent Audi E-Tron victory at Le Mans attempted to demonstrate. However, BMW also has a history of building slow, boring economy versions of its cars. Perhaps the specs of this ActiveHybrid 3 will tell us what to expect from the car.

The engine is a 3.0 liter, turbocharged straight six in the best BMW tradition, only boosted to 335 horsepower by the 55 horsepower hybrid drive system. This hybrid drive is like the one in the ActiveHybrid 5, down to keeping its lithium-ion battery mounted under the trunk. Torque is up from 300lb-ft in the non-hybrid 335i to 332 in the ActiveHybrid 3, which we will also mention only comes with the 8-speed auto.

Even when you average under 20mph, the ActiveHybrid3's all-electric range (AER) is just two and half miles. This could be part of an effort to boost the car's overall fuel economy, but BMW have issued no MPG claims in their press kit or their website.

The car is rather marketed as a "performance hybrid," like the sales-flop Accord hybrid from a few years ago. At 5.3 seconds, the ActiveHybrid 3's 0-62 time drops just 0.2 seconds compared to the 335i.


While a regular 335i starts at $42,800, the ActiveHybrid 3 begins at $49,300 without any shipping and handling. Of course, it's hard to put a price on getting to show off your green cred in the office parking lot. Will it perform better than the much loved 328i fourbanger? Will it get better mileage?


Does anyone here even want a 3 Series hybrid?


Raphael Orlove

I will state for the record that I have nothing categorically against hybrids and a RWD, twin-turbo, straight-six hybrid certainly seems to have a lot going for it, but the precedent has been firmly set that this car is not going to be worth the premium to a disinterested buyer.

That said, hybrids rarely sell on hard logic, and good sales, green image, and lower CAFE is what BMW is probably looking for.