BMW has revealed several new entry-level plug-in hybrid variants of the G20 3 Series as well as the G30 5 Series, which will be made available to customers from March 2021. Aside from the regular sedan body style, the new additions can also be ordered in Touring guise (G21 and G31), for those who require a bit more boot space.
For the 3 Series, the new PHEV variants are the 320e and 320e xDrive, although the latter can only be had if you spring for the Touring model; both join the existing 330e and 330e xDrive. Meanwhile, the 520e is the newest PHEV member in the 5 Series range, with others being the 530e, 530e xDrive and 545e xDrive.
The new additions share an identical powertrain, which is made up of a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, an electric motor and an eight-speed Steptronic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard here, with the exception of the 330e xDrive Touring that gets all-wheel drive.
BMW says the total system output is 204 PS (201 hp) and 350 Nm of torque, with the engine alone providing 163 PS (161 hp). By comparison, the 330e and 530e’s powertrain churns out 252 PS and 420 Nm, with both also equipped with an XtraBoost feature that temporarily adds 40 PS, resulting in a heady 292 PS.
Said electric motor draws power from a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery (no charging details just yet), which has the same gross energy content as the 330e and 530e. The 320e Sedan provides an EV range up to 57 km (54 km for the Touring), while the 520e Sedan can do up to 55 km (51 km for the Touring). These figures are around 10 km less than what the more powerful variants offer.
The battery is installed below rear seat bench to save space, although there are still some reductions compared to non-PHEV variants. With the 320e Sedan, it’s 375 litres (-105 litres), while the 320e Touring provides 410 litres (-90 litres).
As for the 520e Sedan, there’s 410 litres (-100 litres) available, or 430 litres (-140 litres) for the 520e Touring. It’s the same story with the fuel tank capacity: 40 litres (-19 litres) for the 320e and 46 litres (-22 litres) for the 520e.
In terms of performance, the 320e takes 7.6 seconds (7.9 seconds for the Touring) to get from zero to 100 km/h, and the top speed is 225 km/h (220 km/h for the Touring). The 320e xDrive Touring requires 8.2 seconds for the century sprint and tops out at 219 km/h.
As for the 520e, it requires 7.9 seconds (8.2 seconds for the Touring) to get from a standstill to 100 km/h and will reach a top speed of 225 km/h (218 km/h for the Touring). The 330e and 530e are naturally faster, with a 0-100 km/h time of around six seconds and top speed of up to 235 km/h. When running on just electricity, the new PHEV variants match them with a maximum top speed of 140 km/h.
According to the WLTP test cycle, the 320e’s combined fuel consumption is as low as 1.3 l/100 km (1.4 l/100 km for the Touring, 1.5 l/100 km for the xDrive Touring). The 520e isn’t far off with a minimum figure of 1.3 l/100 km (1.5 l 100 km for the Touring). CO2 emissions range from 29 to 35 g/km.
In Malaysia, we currently have the 330e M Sport that goes for RM264,613 with the extended warranty and service package, while the pre-facelift 530e M Sport is priced at RM333,693. Would you pick the 320e and 520e over them, trading performance for lower pricing?
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