“Although we’ve got the i3, I fancy a larger car again and the BMW 330e seems to be a happy balance of going electric and still having the range and performance of the petrol engine as well,” Matthew said. “I’m impressed with what BMW have done. 

“Pulling away on the battery it was nice and quiet, and the transition between electric and petrol was smooth. It also felt like the 330e has performance at its heart. When you put your foot down, using petrol and electric together, it absolutely shot off.”

As Richard added: “With the BMW i3, we’re quite used to charging and I’ve always liked the technology. But I’m also a petrolhead. From a day-to-day point of view, being able to drive on electric power is a damn sight cheaper than petrol, and the 330e feels like it would be a civilized car for sitting in a traffic jam.

“I think people would be surprised how normal and easy it felt to drive. If you didn’t know it was a plug-in hybrid, you’d drive it quite happily without realising it. Put the XtraBoost mode on, with petrol and electric working together, and it feels rapid.”

Not just a hybrid. Every inch a BMW

In all respects, the BMW 330e delivers everything you’d expect from a seventh-generation 3 Series. The design language builds on 45 years of sleek iconic BMW saloon style with precise clean lines and bold contours, while clever engineering – including a semi-sealed underbody, active flaps and aero-optimised wheels – substantially reduces drag from 0.26Cd to 0.23Cd.

Under the skin, the new 3 Series’ chassis is significantly lighter and 25% stiffer, while a wider front and rear track enhance BMW’s trademark responsive, confident hunkered-down handling. M Sport models add optional Adaptive M suspension that offers even more control and response, while uprated M Sport brakes and an M Sport differential give powerfully precise control right through the bends.

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“The BMW 330e looks great, and the build quality is exactly what you’d expect,” said Steve Turner, a photographer and teaching assistant who drives a BMW 335d XDrive, mostly on short journeys. “It’s simply a nice place to be. A lovely car to sit in.”

Neither Steve or his wife Lynsey had driven an electric or hybrid car before sampling the BMW 330e at Goodwood, and they were both impressed by the dual sides of its plug-in hybrid personality. “It felt strange to have to glide serenely away in electric mode with no engine noise, but there’s lots of torque and plenty of acceleration,” Steve added. “When the petrol engine fired up, I was really surprised by the performance. It definitely feels like a BMW. There’s no compromise.”

Putting you in control

The new BMW 3 Series’ chassis is also longer and wider, delivering more shoulder-room in the front, more legroom in the rear and more headroom all-round. Adding the large optional electric glass sunroof only enhances the spacious airy feel.

New aluminium mesh-effect trims and Vernasca leather upholsteries boost the cabin’s high-tech modern look, while the advanced driver-focused BMW Live Cockpit Professional pack blends a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.3-inch Control Display with BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant to give you a greater array of highly connected infotainment features and intuitive voice control. 

The optional BMW Head-up Display now has a projection area that is 70% larger, offering an even clearer view of key driving data, while the optional advanced adaptive BMW Laserlights use a non-dazzling high-beam that extends the headlight’s range to 500m (almost double that of LED headlights).

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