iPerformance 330e: BMW plug-in hybrid 3 Series to land in Q3 for $44,695

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The 330e iPerformance can drive in all-electric mode for about 14 miles on a full charge at speeds up to 75 mph (121 km/h)(Credit: BMW)

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BMW has announced details of a plug-in hybrid variant of the 3 Series sedan, which will be called the 330e iPerformance. Available in the third quarter of 2016 and starting at US$44,695, the iPerformance offers a twin-turbo engine coupled to a plug-in powertrain.

The iPerformance package for the 330e consists of a four-cylinder gasoline engine that outputs 180 horsepower (134 kW) and 215 pound-feet (291.5 Nm) of torque. This engine is coupled to a parallel drivetrain with an 87 horsepower, 184 lb-ft electric motor in tandem. A 7.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides power for the motor and can be recharged from either the engine or an external plug into a charging unit or wall outlet. Total system output is 248 hp (185 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque.

BMW says that this output results in a 0-60 mph (0-96.5 km/h) sprint of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph (225 km/h). The 330e iPerformance can drive in all-electric mode for about 14 miles on a full charge at speeds up to 75 mph (121 km/h). For performance driving, the 330e can deliver up to 184 lb-ft (249.5 Nm) of short-burst boosting from the electric motor to aid the engine in acceleration.

An eight-speed Stepronic Sport Automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels with both power systems (gasoline and electric) providing power individually or together. The use of the transmission in-line allows the electric motor to run at lower revolutions, saving both energy and adding longevity. Because the Steptronic system does not require a torque converter, the weight and power loss of such a unit is saved.

The BMW iPerformance in the 330e offers three eDrive selections. Auto mode seeks to maximize all-electric driving at speeds below 50 mph (80.5 km/h) and to automatically adjust the mix of energy usage according to the driving situation. Max mode aims to use electric power as much as possible to get the most out of the 14 miles of EV range for the 330e. Save Battery mode works to either optimize charging of the battery (if below 50 percent) through the combustion engine and braking or "freezes" the battery's charge state until the driver turns off the mode. The standard BMW EfficiencyDynamics modes (Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+) are also available to tune transmission and throttle responses.

Newly-showcased on the BMW 330e iPerformance is a new Proactive Driving Assistant that uses the navigation system's route guidance to maximize fuel efficiency through management of the drive systems. Combining static and real-time information, the system prioritizes electric drive where it will be most efficient. It also adds electric-assist on uphill climbs and in other situations where it can best benefit fuel savings.

The battery, located below the trunk, allows full use of the trunk and pass-through to the rear seats when folded (40/20/40 split-fold). The trunk has 13 cubic feet (368 liters) of space, so some capacity is sacrificed for the batteries (normal 3 Series is 17 cubic feet / 481 liters). The fuel tank is located forward of the battery, directly below the rear passenger seating.

Infotainment and technology options include ConnectedDrive, along with a suite of apps specific to the plug-in hybrid. These allow the owner to access information such as charging state, trip information, temperature pre-sets, and more through a smartphone app or the car's infotainment touchscreen. The 330e can be pre-heated or pre-cooled while still plugged in and charging, allowing for maximum energy efficiency before leaving to drive. These can be triggered remotely, through a pre-set timer, or from the keyfob.

BMW says that the li-ion battery can be recharged from empty to full in about two and a half hours from a 220V plug, or 6-7 hours from a 120V conventional wall outlet. Purchase of the 330e iPerformance gives owners access to the ChargeNow global network of public charging stations.

BMW will release EPA fuel efficiency figures closer to the 330e's launch date.

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