If the i3 looks a little too funky for your taste, you can still drive an electric BMW with this, the 2017 BMW 330e.
This looks like a standard 3 series with its kidney grill, its low hood, and its compact footprint Under the skin, this is a plug in, hybrid, vehicle.
That means its got a gasoline electric drive train and a large 7.6 killowatt hour battery pack.
So you can plug into a charging station.
On the right rear fender is the gasoline filler cap, but on this left spot fender, the standard vehicle charging port.
And well it only gets 14 miles of electric range.
But after that, it automatically kicks over into hybrid so you won't get stranded in the grocery store parking lot.
The instrument panel in front of me shows me I've got six miles of electric range.
Not a full charge, but the 87 horsepower electric motor is the only thing that's turning the rear wheels.
This car is driving as an electric car right now.
I've also got a 7 Eco Pro, that's one of BMW's driving dynamic control modes.
And that's getting the best efficiency out of the 8-speed automatic transmission and that electric motor.
This car feels pretty comfortable as an electric car.
I'm getting decent power on the throttle, drives all right, seems to be a really comfortable commuter in electric mode.
Actually it'd be pretty nice if this was a pure electric car as long as BMW could get the range up.
BMW 7230E gets 72 miles per gallon, but that's miles per gallon equivalent.
That's an EPA calculation that they use for electric cars.
and it doesn't really mean much, because the plug-in hybrid, your mileage is going to vary wildly depending on how much you can charge that battery.
But I would say, with the 330-E, you should get over 40 miles per gallon.
Now there's a couple of quirks about this drive system.
If I take it up over 75 miles per hour, the engine is going to kick in.
Also, if I give it maximum acceleration like this, The engine kicks in and gives me all the power it has.
The engine in the 330-EE is a turbo-charged two-liter, four cylinder.
That does 180 horsepower, 215 pound feet of torque on its own.
A BMW puts the total system output, with the electric motor, at 248 horsepower, 310 pound feet of torque.
That's not bad for a small car like this.
One of the really cool things about the 330-EE is that the navigation system and the drive system talk to each other.
So if you're approaching a hill, the transmission will know it and actually downshift ahead of time.
Also, if you're on the highway and your destination is in a residential area it'll actually save up its battery charge so that when you get into that residential area it can drive under electric power on those slower streets.
It's a really cool thing, but of course the navigation system has to be active for that to work.
So you want to program in your destination Every tome your out even if you know where you're going.
But enough of the fuel economy.
What I really want to find out will the 330e hold up BMW's sports sedan reputation.
So first of all I'm gonna push the driving dynamics control into sport mode.
And that's gonna make maximum use of the engine and the electric motor.
It's gonna tighten up the steering response and give me more throttle response as well.
All right, I've got the transmission in Sport Mode, engine and electric motor are doing what they can for me.
And it's coming tight around a corner.
That felt good.
The balance is nice here and that's because BMW does a 50, 50 weight distribution on the 330 just like they should do on all their cars really.
There is a little bit of a power lag on the apexes of these turns here, but the grip feels nice.
I'm gonna switch to manual mode with the transmission and see if I can get a little more out of this power delivery.
So I got it in third gear right now.
I got a little wheel squeak.
Coming through this corner, down shift.
That is power on demand and that's what want on this sports car.
It should give you what you want and when you want it And this is doing the job.
There's nothing a BMW fan or anyone else for that matter shouldn't like about the 230Es look.
It doesn't make a statement out it's partially electric drive train.
But appreciating that drive train and getting the most out of it is anything but simple.
This is a car that engineers and number nerds will really like and count me among them.
Now the electric range isn't all that much, but if your commute is even twice that, it'll make a big difference for your fuel economy.
And most importantly, the 330e handles like a BMW should.