2023 BMW 330e M Sport (car review)

The 2023 BMW 330e M Sport is loaded with tech, and is certainly a good looking car (let’s face it the 3 Series has always been a pretty thing). It’s an interesting offering, with this plug-in hybrid bridging the gap between internal combustion and EV.

Covered in Melbourne Red paint, with sporty black accents courtesy of the M Sport add-on that’s now standard on all BMW models down under, it has sleek lines. It’s exterior styling makes it a real head turner.

Inside, it’s all about technology, with two large LCD displays, the infotainment one being of particularity high resolution. The black M Sport seats are snug and immediately comfortable, with multi adjustment, including lumbar and bolster.

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These two combine to keep you locked into your seat when having some spirited fun. From the driver’s seat, everything comes to hand nicely, with the combination of BMW’s iDrive system and touchscreen working well together.

The iDrive system is good for quickly navigating your way around the many menus and options, and once you’re used to it, it almost becomes second nature. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connects seamlessly every time too.

2023 BMW 330e M Sport
2023 BMW 330e M Sport

The large hi-res display made good use of the interface and the only real complaint we have is that the climate controls are still largely a touchscreen only affair. If you can get past that, it’s pretty much set and forget, and it’s actually good.

Fit and finish is also excellent, as you would expect from a premium German brand, with good use of brushed metallic and soft touch surfaces. Thankfully there’s no piano black, so the interior should last and look new for a long time.

There is however, a few hard scratchy plastics lower down to remind you that the 3 Series is not at the premium end of the BMW tree. The vehicle we tested didn’t have the upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, but none the less sound quality was impressive.

Audiophiles will find good low and mid tones, with plenty of solid bass. It’s one of the few systems that seems to work well straight out of the box. Where the BMW 330e does seem to fall a little short (no pun intended) is in the rear seating area.

The seats themselves are comfortable and well supported. Unfortunately, with the driver’s seat in the best position to suit this writer (at 178cm tall), there wasn’t a lot of room for the person sitting behind yours truly.

dash1
Inside the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport

Opening the boot is another area where the PHEV variant is compromised, in this case by the hybrid battery. The boot floor is very shallow as a result, with storage limited to just 375-litres. That’s probably a little less than the average family needs.

On a positive, there are loads of storage pockets throughout the cabin, with cup holders front and rear and good-sized storage bins in all four doors. Switching on the ignition quickly reminds you that this is a plug-in hybrid or PHEV, and not the normal petrol 330.

The dash and centre screens all come to life and the head-up display does its boot up thing. It’s then you notice that there’s no engine noise. Providing the hybrid battery is sufficiently charged, pulling away is an effortless, silent affair.

It’s once you’re up and running that some of the limitations of the design become apparent. Where the normal petrol model feels light and somewhat nimble, the extra weight in the PHEV becomes apparent on the first rough surface you drive on.

The car feels overly stiff, especially in the rear, with some clattering present. The same can be said when pushing through slightly uneven or undulating bends. The rear end seems to struggle to keep the added weight in check.

dash2
Inside the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport

It’s not that it ruins the drive but it’s not as smooth as you might expect. Point it at a smooth highway or some nice smooth back roads though and the chassis dynamics are great. It feels more like you would expect a BMW with sporty pretensions to be.

The car is also equipped with run flat tyres, a BMW staple, which do compromise road noise and ride comfort. That’s almost a default with the hybrid too, given there isn’t a tonne of room in the boot for a spare.

In Hybrid mode (the best for all-round driving economy) performance is okay. The 330e isn’t slow but unless you floor it, it doesn’t feel particularly fast either. Sport mode though changes all that, delivering instant power, with no lag.

The hybrid power pack giving a very handy extra 80kW of power on top of the standard 135kW from the petrol engine, it’s an added bonus that’s certainly welcomed. BMW claim the 330e has a 0-100km/h time of 5.8 seconds, and that’s on the money.

Sport mode also allows some predictable oversteer, allowing the rear end to step out slightly when provoked, and steering feedback is very good.  It’s not all bad, you just need the right type of roads to really appreciate it.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport

In terms of fuel economy, BMW claims 2.5-litres/100km from the combination of a 135kW 4-cylinder engine and 80kW hybrid electric motor (215kW combined), with real world testing delivering 3.4-litres/100km. The fuel tank is 40-litres, which may be a little small.

Kicking off at around $108,000 drive away (or $115,000 in the spec we tested it in), the 330e certainly isn’t cheap. That’s on par with an i4, if you choose to go full EV, but want to stay within the BMW family.

That said, if you’re heart is set on a 3 Series, but you want to do the “right thing” by the environment, the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport is certainly worth considering, you just have to be comfortable with the compromises the PHEV brings.

You can build your own on the BMW website, where you can choose from three different wheels, two upholstery options and three trims. Exterior colours include Alpine White, Black Sapphire Metallic, Skyscraper Grey Metallic and Mineral White Metallic.

You an also opt for M Portimao Blue Metallic, M Brooklyn Grey Metallic, Dravit Grey Metallic and Tanzanite Blue Metallic. If you’re keen on one and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

boot
Inside the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport

Our test vehicle was provided by BMW Australia. To find out more about the 2023 BMW 330e M Sport, contact your local BMW dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
7
Exterior styling
9
Interior look and feel
8
Technology and connectivity
8
Family friendliness
6.5
Value for money
6.5

SUMMARY

Pros - Blue Steel (Zoolander) looks; near perfect driving position; fit and finish is excellent.
Cons - relatively small boot; limited rear legroom; dynamics compromised by hybrid system.
Andy Hempsall
Andy Hempsall
Having grown up on the wrong side of the word, Andy has an odd obsession with small and over revvy cars (particularly JDM based vehicles). He’s owned a variety of modified cars over the years from CRX’s to an ultra rare Ginetta G32 turbo. Since moving to Australia, Andy has written for and edited a number of 4WD publications and now works as a freelance photographer.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> Blue Steel (Zoolander) looks; near perfect driving position; fit and finish is excellent.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> relatively small boot; limited rear legroom; dynamics compromised by hybrid system.2023 BMW 330e M Sport (car review)