Why the BMW 3 Series 330e won: Your bank manager will love it, but you will even more: the 330e is a car of quite extraordinary all-round abilities.
The 330e is just one of the winners in this year’s Britain’s Best Car Awards – see the full list here.
In April, there was a generational change in company car taxation designed to push drivers towards electric and plug-in hybrid models.
Benefit in kind (BIK) on electric cars was reduced all the way down to zero, and to between 2% and 12% on plug-in hybrids, depending on their electric-only range.
Electric cars generally remain unsuitable for many a company car driver covering a significant daily mileage typically due to charging speed and network reliability, so plug-in hybrids have quickly become the default choice for company car buyers to swap their diesel mile-eaters for. And none does it better than the BMW 330e.
The tax bill for someone running a 330e was cut by close to £1000 a year for a 40% taxpayer as a result of the new rules, moving down to a 10% BIK rate. Its 320d diesel stablemate, for so long a brilliantly well-rounded company car option itself (remaining so if, for some reason, you don’t like the prospect of a DIY pay rise), attracts a 27% BIK rate.
It’s a financial no-brainer, then, yet the 330e is not merely a car designed to save you money. It is a brilliant member of the 3 Series family and an interesting and highly capable car in its own right. The 330e’s trump card is just how well it disguises the complexity of its drivetrain compared with so many of its rivals.
Not only is the integration seamless, but the differing driving experiences offered by the various modes can also completely transform the driving experience from all-electric, whisper-quiet Tesla baiter one minute to rapid, near-300bhp performance saloon the next.
Still, most of the time, you’ll just leave the 330e to its quiet brilliance as we did when we ran one on our own fleet earlier this year. Of the 6203 miles we travelled in the 330e, 2892 were solely on electric power, which goes to show not only the benefits of being able to charge at home and at the office to maximise electric range, but also just how many journeys are short enough to be driven solely on electric power in the first place.
You save on tax, and you save on running costs, too. Those 2892 electric miles cost £150.38, and the petrol cost £474.74. The same miles in a 50mpg 320d would cost you £704.99 and, remember, you’re paying more in tax as well to begin with.
Now that you can choose between saloon and estate bodies, as well as rear wheel-drive or four wheel-drive options, the 330e really is the definitive modern company car. I love the way the chassis and powertrain shrug off the sense of complexity the car has, and really start to work together, when you pick up a bit of speed.
I’d have one on little wheels and skinny tyres, probably fairly light on optional kit. Don’t think I’d bother with xDrive – but a Touring definitely appeals.