bmw 330e review guilt free driving glee until

BMW 330e review: Guilt-free driving glee until...

You'll beat the cost of filling up the petrol tank but it could be better if there were more charging stations

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

2 Jun 2017

Without a properly installed outdoor power socket in my driveway, I am completely reliant on the charging station graciously made available in the parking lots of malls to juice up the BMW 330e on test.

As good as that sounds, there is a mammoth-sized problem — there isn’t enough charging stations available in said malls to satisfy the growing appetite for electric energy. The number of plug-in electric vehicles are on the rise and it is gaining much momentum.

Before you comment that Petronas now has charging stations; a question: what are you going to do while waiting for at least one and a half hours to get a decent charge into your battery? Not all Petronas stations hosts cafes and restaurants.

And unless you count shopping in Kedai Mesra or watching other drivers fill up the cars while sitting on an eco-friendly high horse as entertainment, there’s nothing much else to burn time. I genuinely want to know. Sound off below. 

You will often find a grand total of zero charging station available. Only a select few will have one, sometimes two, but rarely three or four, in the mall’s carpark. Where once upon a time meagre number of charging station used to be more than enough, demand now outstrips supply. 

How do I know this? By the unscientific method of noticing that these charging stations are almost always occupied by a Volvo XC90 or a BMW 330e. The latter’s success can be attributed to the price — RM248,000 — which is placed closed to a regular 3er but with all the bells and whistles of the discontinued 330i.

And in the very near future, there will be more manufacturers putting out PHEVs that will require the same. It is time that GreenTech to start whipping themselves and stake more ChargEV stations everywhere! 

In the meantime, I am forced to pop into the shopping mall nearest to me — Empire Subang Jaya — every hour or so to see if there’s an empty bay. There isn’t. Someone extremely intelligent once said that ‘insanity is repeating the same task and expecting different results’. And I have become the living proof of that quote.

Of course by doing so, I am exhausting what little battery charge I have left, which isn’t impressive to begin with. On full charge, driving with the foot-pressure of an ant on pure electricity, the 330e returns a range of just 25km; far from the claimed 37km. OK, so maybe my foot isn't that of an ant but I did expect more.

Deplete that and you’ll never be able to charge the car to full unless you plug it into the box. BMW only lets you to forcefully charge the car with the engine up to 50%. Which makes me wonder what I am doing wrong. 

Other than the time I picked up the car from BMW Malaysia’s HQ, I never got the battery at 100% again.

The situation isn’t as bad as it might have turned out. For one, the combustion engine is intelligent enough to portion out adequate power to charge the battery and move the car. Doesn’t feel handicapped, the acceleration is rather smooth at the same time shovelling enough force that makes you feel like you are moving forward fast. You will, most of the time, have just enough charge to get the car up to speed in around 6.1 seconds. 

Even without the injection of 65kw/250Nm from the electric motor, BMW’s 2.0-litre engine still produces 184hp and 290Nm. You will still have pace acceleration up to speed so much so that you won’t miss the combined power of 252hp and 420Nm… much.

There is some heft to deal with; the battery does add the kilos when you compare the 330e to the 330i, smudging the handling capabilities. Unless you are especially sensitive on how this BMW dips, rolls and tilts around you, this 3er still fulfils all of its handling obligations like a portly puppy eager to please. 

The rest of the 330e is exactly what you would expect from BMW 3 Series saloon. The interior dressed-up as well as a tennis player on court — functional, comfortable and looks expensive. And it is also decked with upmarket features including BMW’s propriety concierge service. 

As for its design, well, there’s nothing to tell apart this from the other 3ers other than the ‘e’ at the nameplate and the extra flap for the cables. 

While the BMW 330e will always be a wonderful piece of machinery to drive — and own — I cannot get over the fact that unless I own a landed property and have a proper charging box installed, I will never be able to fully utilise the full potential of this PHEV. And it is going to be this way until there are more charging stations available. I hope that day will come sooner rather than too late.

BMW 330e Sport

Engine/ Motor

1,998cc., inline-4, turbocharged / Electric motor


8-speed automatic

Rear-wheel drive

Engine Output

184hp @ 5,000-6,500rpm / 290Nm @ 1,350-4250rpm

Motor Output

65kw @ 2,500rpm / 250Nm @ 0-2,500rpm

Combined System Output

252hp / 420Nm


RM248,800 (OTR w/o insurance)

Import & Export Duty Reduction with Govt. Approved Hybrid Incentive = RM120,000

Overall Rating

7_5 Rating