BMW 3-series updated again as plug-in hybrid 330e electric range is almost doubled | CAR Magazine

BMW 3-series updated again as plug-in hybrid 330e electric range is almost doubled

Published: 29 May 2024 Updated: 29 May 2024

► BMW 3-series gets another update
► New 330e now does 63 miles as an EV
► More comfort and tech also included

BMW is starting to seem like one of those over-achieving kids who just can’t sit still if they’re not being challenged by something – just two years after the last significant update to the BMW 3-series in 2022, here’s another one for 2024.

The only changes on the outside are to paint choices (including new Arctic Race Blue and Fire Red metallics) and alloy wheel designs. But under the skin the super-successful BMW 330e plug-in hybrid has been upgraded with a new, more energy-dense battery pack. This nearly doubles claimed electric-only driving range to as much as 63 miles per charge.

At the same time an 11kW onboard AC charger speeds up recharging, and across the new BMW 3-series line-up you’ll find different cabin materials, redesigned steering wheels and an enhanced infotainment system powered by BMW Operating System 8.5. Alterations to the chassis are said to improve comfort without reducing driver enjoyment.

The revised 3-series is available to order as both Saloon and Touring estate car now.

So the big news is the updated 330e?

Already a company car star, thanks to its combination of low tax rates and punchy performance, the 2024 BMW 330e is only likely to prove more popular thanks to increased zero emissions driving capability. Cementing its position as one of the best plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) you can buy.

It varies with exact model, but previously you were looking at a claimed maximum electric driving range of 38 miles. Now BMW says it will do up to 63 miles (61 miles for the Touring) before the four-cylinder petrol needs to cut in – a change that’s happened without any further loss of boot space or reduction in fuel-tank capacity. Meaning total driving range should be improved as well.

2024 BMW 330e charging port, plugged in to charge

The new 19.5kWh (usable) battery pack uses BMW Gen5 eDrive tech – the same as the iX and other current all-electric BMW flagships, but a generation behind the forthcoming Neue Klasse SUV – which means its far more energy dense than before.

The addition of a three-phase 11kW AC charger means a full charge from zero can be completed in 2 hours and 15 minutes now. This is the first time such tech has been added to a BMW plug-in hybrid, but still looks a little pathetic versus the DC fast charging available on the Mercedes E300e (for example).

Any other engine upgrades for the updated 3-series?

The 330e’s power output remains unchanged at 288bhp, and there are no performance bumps for the rest of the range, either.

This means UK buyers continue to have a choice of four-cylinder 181bhp 320i at the entry level and six-cylinder 369bhp M340i xDrive at the top of the tree – with an updated BMW M3 above this (see our separate story).

2024 BMW 3-series blue, rear, driving round corner

The M340i is a mild-hybrid; all three petrol engines – including the 330e – feature TwinPower turbocharging and an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddleshifters. There is no diesel 3-series for UK buyers anymore, and you can’t get a manual gearbox. At least one of those is definitely a shame.

And the chassis changes?

Focused on improving comfort – though exactly how significant they will be when most UK buyers opt for M-Sport specification with its specific suspension tuning remains to be seen. However, BMW has confirmed to CAR that the M Sport suspension has received a similar re-emphasis on comfort as well.

Some modifications will benefit every 3-series regardless. For instance, the rear damper mounting points are now stiffer, helping to improve damping performance.

2024 BMW 3-series blue, front, driving round corner

The development work is said to result in ‘even greater overall precision, composure and controllability’, with refinement also getting a boost as part of the package. One of the most tangible changes should be the lighter steering weight in the Comfort driving mode, since ‘the force needed to turn the steering wheel has been reduced.’

What’s the new 3-series like on the inside?

The radical alterations took place in 2022, when the 3-series adopted the BMW Curved Display. For 2024, the firm has some new materials and steering wheels.

The most notable material upgrade is the optional ‘CraftedClarity’ glass finish for the iDrive controller, starter button and gear selector, though there are some fabric changes and other enhancements as well.

2024 BMW 3-series CraftedClarity glass controls

The most notable steering wheel difference comes with the two-spoke items with ‘polygonal rim’ now fitted to Luxury models. M Sport versions get a new design of three-spoke wheel.

Elsewhere on the inside the ‘cascade lighting’ that illuminates the dashboard comes in nine ‘colour worlds’ (if you didn’t roll your eyes then we’re impressed) and can be enhanced with an extended dynamic ambient lighting package. Driver preferences will be stored in the BMW ID settings.

Once you’ve added the car to the My BMW App you can also do things such as view the vehicle’s immediate surroundings at any time via your smartphone, thanks to the option Remote 3D View function.

Is BMW Operating System 8.5 much different?

This has a ‘flatter’ menu structure – meaning less changing screens to achieve something – and QuickSelect controls to make accessing important capabilities more straightforward, thanks to a bar of customisable widgets on the side closest to the driver.

2024 BMW 3-series interior with CraftedClarity glass controls and BMW Operating System 8.5

However, it’s also not the latest variant, and the BMW X1 and BMW X2 (for example) are now rocking BMW Operating System 9. There’s an official BMW Operating System FAQ page dedicated to this stuff if you want to know more.

How much is the new BMW 3-series?

Prices start at £39,045 for the Saloon and £40,845 for the Touring.

You can order one now, with UK first deliveries expected in summer 2024.

2024 BMW 3-series Touring, red, rear, driving

By CJ Hubbard

Head of the Bauer Digital Automotive Hub and former Associate Editor of CAR. Road tester, organiser, reporter and professional enthusiast, putting the driver first