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by Jay Traugott
This isn't your typical boring hybrid.
In BMW's world, the 3 Series is their most prized possession. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that the automaker would do everything they can in order to expand the 3 Series lineup for customers to find that one perfect trim that fits all of their needs, whether they want pure power or something a little greener.
This brings us to BMW's latest, the 2013 3 Series ActiveHybrid, which is powered by a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-six paired up with an electric motor and an eight-speed Steptronic transmission.
This electric motor is powered by a lithium-ion high-voltage battery that's located under the luggage compartment in between the wheel arches. This gasoline engine and lithium-ion motor combination delivers a total of 335hp and 332lb-ft of torque that's sent to the rear wheels. And for those who like to believe that hybrids are less powerful when compared to their conventional gasoline engine counterparts, the Hybrid 3 has an increase in power of 13 percent and 11 percent, respectively, over the 335i. Fuel efficiency is also key here and BMW is intent on creating the proper balance between performance, driving pleasure and saving cash at the pump.
They claim their new hybrid sedan can travel up to a speed of 45 mph in all-electric mode. Once fully charged, the lithium ion battery allows drivers to have an all-electric driving range of up to 2.5 miles at an average speed of 20 mph. But once someone gets over their visions of greener hills and birds chirping thanks to their newfound ethos of saving the planet, that sweet-sounding 3.0 inline-six is there waiting for you. When additional power is required, the engine kicks in automatically and performance is boosted by the electric motor only to provide additional power when accelerating.
BMW claims the Hybrid 3 can go from 0 to 62 mph in 5.3 seconds and top speed is electronically-limited to 155 mph when equipped with performance tires. Charging the battery is mainly done during coasting and braking and in order to avoid the gasoline engine from running idle in heavy traffic, a start-stop function kicks in. BMW is also keen for buyers to be familiar with what they call ECO PRO mode, which is basically a coasting mode that allows for maximum use of energy management. Official EPA figures aren't in yet, but BMW claims the Hybrid 3 will return 40 mpg on the EU test cycle.
To add a little distinction from the 328i or 335i, there are unique 18-inch alloy wheels and "ActiveHybrid 3" lettering on the C-pillars. BMW says all three Sport, Modern, and Luxury lines along with the M Sport package will also be available. Pricing will start off at $50,195 including destination. It seems clear that, once again, BMW has given us another ultimate - and greener - driving machine. Just don't compare it to any old Prius.