Hybrid Powertrain Extracurricular Activities

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By DerrickCalvert

After a few longer drives in our 2022 BMW 330e xDrive, I have settled into a routine with my children’s school and other extracurricular activities. It seems that the kids have to travel a lot this spring. So, I have been able enjoy my 3 Series on shorter, but more frequent jaunts.

Even with the engine running, it is a quiet car. The turbo-four runs quietly and smoothly, making a pleasant sound but not too loud. The turbocharger can be heard working with the car’s acceleration forces. Both work together perfectly to provide a steady stream torque and electric power that covers any turbolag.

Recently, I have been able to drive most of my local driving, including trips to my kids’ schools and to the grocery shop, entirely on electric power. Unlike the other PHEVs that I have driven, such as our long-term Volvo S60 (for instance), the electric motor is powerful enough to keep the combustion engine at bay almost every time. I have only had to push the pedal beyond the “detent” that causes the engine to fire up a few times, and that was when merging onto busy roads. I can usually accelerate to highway speeds and merge while cruising entirely on electric power. Since the beginning of the year, I have been driving the 330e almost entirely EV-only. It feels wonderful to be able to get around without stopping at the gas station every day.

It is interesting to me that the electric power is routed through the eight-speed automatic transmission of the car, as Road Test Editor Zac Palmer pointed out in his 330e electric range testing. Although it’s subtle and you may not notice it if you aren’t used to driving EVs you will feel the slight shifts when the car’s in electric mode. It was surprising to me when I came out of EV after EV following EV, with acceleration that is linear and no shifts. It’s more noticeable here than it was driving the Porsche Taycan GT and Audi E-Tron GT EVs, which have two-speed transmissions. It’s not terrible, but it is noticeable enough to geeks.