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Meet the plug-in hybrid 3-Series
BMW has taken technology from its futuristic i8 supercar - and indeed, the i3 supermini - and transplanted it into something a little more familiar. Internet, this is a plug-in hybrid BMW 3-Series saloon.
It’s only a prototype at this stage, but a prototype that will very likely see production. BMW is fast becoming adept at hybrid technology, so why not bolt it into the car that bankrolls the entire brand?
What you get then, is a setup similar to the X5 eDrive we drove earlier this year, but in 2WD format. There’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine combined with an electric motor and an eight speed ‘steptronic’ automatic gearbox, to produce some interesting figures.
It’ll pump out a total of 245bhp – on par with a straight-six engined Beemer – a healthy 295lb ft of torque (as many torques as the last-gen V8 BMW M3) and return a claimed 140mpg and emit just 50g/km of CO2. Many cakes, lots of eating.
BMW reckons the prototype is only capable of a top speed of 74.5mph and a range of just 22 miles on electricity alone, but of course, it’s still a prototype. What’s important is the tech. The eDrive stuff is pinched directly from the i3 and i8, that motor being powered by a lithium-ion battery and cooled by a high-efficiency, um, cooling system. You can recharge this battery at any household socket.
All the power is wrapped up and sent in one big, 295lb ft-shaped parcel to the rear wheels and rear wheels alone. There are of course, many different modes to select, chiefly Comfort, Sport and Eco. They manage everything from the drivetrain right through to the air conditioning and seat heating.
No other performance data has been provided, but with such an abundance of torque and power, expect it to be swift. And that’s not all – BMW reckons that future eDrive models will feature more powerful electric motors and batteries packing twice the capacity of today’s units.
In fact, future plug-in hybrids will provide two-thirds of their power from electricity, the remainder coming from the combustion engine. BMW also tells us that in this low-emission future, there’ll be an electric motor as the main source of power for everyday driving – powering the rear axle – and a second motor and internal combustion engine powering the front.
We’ll see the plug-in 3-Series at some point in the next few years. Would you swap out your 335i for one of these?