BMW efficiency increases 3 fold
"The combined output of the hybrid system - 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft of torque - make for a superior combination on the road."
MUNICH - The 2013 ActiveHybrid 3 is at once ‘all-new’, and also ‘exactly what you think it is’ - a 3 Series sedan with a hybrid powertrain.
The fuel saving benefits of combining an electric motor with the same engine used in the 335i sedan (a gasoline-fed 3.0 litre, twin- turbo inline six-cylinder) are something we’ll have to examine in a proper test here in Autonet when the car becomes available this fall; but the benefits of the electronic boost to the gas powerplant were on display here in the Bavarian heartland.
The combined output of the hybrid system - 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft of torque - make for a superior combination on the road, and channelled by BMW’s driving modes depending on the driver’s preferences. Like the newly introduced 2013 Touring, the Active Hybrid allows for selection of a number of “Eco” and “Sport” modes.
Naturally, I spent some time with it in Sport (and Sport plus) mode, because hey, how often do I get to perform my unique brand of media weaselry on the Autobahns around Munich? The car delivers excellent acceleration (it feels almost like you have a really quiet eight-cylinder powerhouse under the hood), but of course the intent with a hybrid drivetrain is to reduce consumption and emissions.
Running on battery power only, it’s a silent glider that will reach surprising speeds before the engine turns on – the company claims up to 75 km/h in coasting mode, though I didn’t get anywhere near that – but it will average approximately 35, and manages to keep the A/C running purely on battery power when fully charged.
The ActiveHybrid boasts 25% better fuel economy than the straight-up gasoline model with the same engine, according to BMW, probably when used in “Eco Pro” mode or the very cool “Coasting Mode”. Coasting mode (they also referred to it as ‘sailing mode’ several times during the presentation of the car actually disconnects the gasoline engine from the drive shaft and shuts it of altogether for silent and exhaustless travel. Interestingly, the coasting feature can be used to drive fully –electric at speeds of up to 160 km/h under the right conditions.
All are functions of the Driving Experience Control switch (which you will find on other BMW models, including the 3 Series Touring), just part of the fat package of technologies, both standard and optional, with the ActiveHybrid.
The electric motor has been mounted within the housing of the transmission (the car uses BMW’s eight-speed gearbox), and space has been saved at the rear by mounting the lithium-ion battery pack underneath the trunk and between the wheel wells. That also allows it to keep the trunk volume (nearly) the same as the gasoline sedan.
All around, the ActiveHybrid 3 doesn’t seem to feel like any compromises have been made to the performance or handling of the regular 335i, and it will be available with the same trim packages when it goes on sale (Sport, Modern and Luxury Lines, and with the adaptive M suspension package also available)
Expect everything you want in a premium, cutting edge piece of BMW engineering when the ActiveHybrid becomes available this fall, and a starting MSRP of $58,300.