By Brandy Schaffels.
In love with the performance of the BMW 3 Series, but also wishing for a something a little more eco-friendly? The good news is that it’s possible to have both — for a cost. BMW’s popular five-passenger 3 Series sedan features stylish elegance and an athletic flair as well as a long list of convenience and safety features. And, it’s also available with a hybrid powertrain for those who want their performance in a friendlier shade of “green.”
What’s Under the Hood of the BMW 335i?
The BMW 3 Series 335i we are comparing against is powered by a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder internal combustion engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission capable of producing 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Performance is improved by BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology with twin-scroll turbocharging, and high precision direct injection and fully variable valve control.
BMW boasts that this model is able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, and has a top speed of 130 mph. And even with all that performance, fuel economy for this model is rated at 23-mpg city, 33-mpg highway, and 26 miles per gallon combined.
What’s Under the Hood of the BMW ActiveHybrid 3?
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 starts with the same 300-horsepower/3.0-liter, six-cylinder internal combustion engine, but adds a synchronous electric motor that provides a bonus of 55 horsepower, for a total of 355 horsepower on demand. The battery comprises 96 cells, has an effective energy capacity of 675 kwh, and is positioned between the wheel arches in the trunk. In addition to the boost available for the internal combustion engine, the electric motor is capable of powering the ActiveHybrid 3 in emissions-free full-electric mode for speeds up to 45 mph for distances up to 2.5 miles. If you do a lot of city driving, this is where you will see the greatest benefit from the Active Hybrid drivetrain.
BMW claims the ActiveHybrid 3 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 150 mph when equipped with performance tires. In our own recent test, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 enthusiastically hit 140 mph before we ran out of track. Fuel economy for the Active Hybrid 3 is rated at 25-mpg city, 33-mpg highway, and 28 miles per gallon combined.
Let’s Talk Fuel-Saving Technology
Both of these BMW 3 Series models also feature BMW’s new ECO PRO system. At speeds of up to 100 mph, the drivetrain disconnects when the driver lifts his/her foot from the accelerator pedal without applying the brakes. As a result, the vehicle is able to ‘sail’ without engine power, thereby also achieving maximum fuel efficiency. ECO PRO mode also helps teach interested drivers to become fuel-efficient experts, and, depending on individual driving style, promises a fuel savings of up to 20 percent.
The BMW Active Hybrid 3 can be linked to the optional navigation system to allow proactive, forward-thinking analysis of the driving situation for even more effective energy management. For instance: When a destination has been input and route guidance is active, the electronics can then access navigation data to prepare for imminent requirements so that the powertrain and onboard electronics can make the most efficient possible use of the available energy. For example, if the system knows that a downhill stretch is coming up soon, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 can wait to recharge its battery and invest all the high-voltage battery’s electrical energy into providing supplementary driving power, since the battery will be recharged during the forthcoming descent at no cost in terms of fuel consumption.
Because of the intangibles associated with these systems from driver to driver, they cannot be accounted for in “official” fuel economy ratings. That means a careful driver who uses both these systems regularly should be able to improve their fuel economy beyond the “official” numbers.
What do the BMW 3 Series and Active Hybrid 3 Models Cost?
The 2013 BMW Active Hybrid 3 boasts a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $50,575, while the 335i starts at $44,075. Both prices include $925 destination and handling.
And remember, regardless of whether you choose the traditional internal combustion 3 Series or opt for the Active Hybrid 3, both cars come with BMW Ultimate Service, which covers all factory-recommended maintenance services, as well as brake pads, brake discs, and wiper blade inserts for 4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. BMW says you pay for nothing but gas and tires during the covered period, which can save you up to $2,000 in maintenance costs compared to other luxury vehicles.
(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by BMW.)