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Fleet World Fleet: BMW 330e M Sport

Alex Grant tests the parking system in the BMW in his second report.

The BMW system can place a 3D model of the car in its surroundings offering two fixed viewpoints as if watching from the kerbside

At 4.7 metres, our 330e is only marginally shorter end to end than the first 7 Series, but the executive chauffeur of 40 years ago didn’t have quite so many toys at their disposal. Particularly when it comes to squeezing into parking spaces which have barely grown since.

Parking cameras are hit and miss; often unclear, distorted, offset and even the best ones are no substitute for looking, but BMW’s system is brilliant. Our car is equipped with the £650 Parking Assistance Plus package, so it can manoeuvre itself into a bay automatically. It also adds cameras on all four sides, and some party tricks when park- ing manually.

Instead of just simulating a birds-eye view, the system can place a 3D model of the car in its surroundings offering two fixed viewpoints as if watching from the kerbside. The cameras also double up as a 360-degree dashcam, which records 20 seconds before and after a crash or by pressing a button next to the gearstick. For the gadget fans, the BMW Connected app enables you to remotely download images and view a digital version of the car in situ – I’ve yet to come up with a practical reason why you would. Big car tech for a now not-so-compact executive saloon.

P11D (BiK): £39,925 (16%) MPG/CO2: 176.6-201.8mpg (WLTP) / 38g/km (NEDC Correlated) Test MPG/MPkWh: >99.9mpg/2.0MPkWh

Report One: Alex Grant takes the keys for our new 330e plug-in hybrid long-termer.

Our 330e long-termer

With the Government changing the goalposts on the phasing out of combustion engines this month, I’ve found myself pointing out yet again that the automotive market is changing at an unprecedented pace. The 330e is a case in point; who could have predicted, five years ago, that a high-perfaormance petrol plug-in hybrid would become a mainstream part of the 3 Series range? And yet, it’s one of the UK’s best-selling plug-ins full-stop, and it’s been an important part of BMW’s fleet line-up amid uncertainty about diesel.

A bit like the old car, any driver picking this one can feel like they’ve drawn the long straw. We’re a few weeks away from a final decision on the tax reforms outlined last July (though they look likely), and these should give a further shot in the arm to a car which already offers six-cylinder petrol performance, double-digit CO2 emissions and BMW badge cachet. Particularly as WLTP re-testing is likely to nudge many petrol and diesel cars up a Benefit-in-Kind band or two in April. As I said, it’s all moving quickly.

Regardless of testing elsewhere, it’s also building on the last car’s capabilities. The old 330e was a clever car, but my lasting impression was that the packaging compromises of its bulky hybrid components didn’t offer enough of a trade-off in terms of real-world range. Its successor retains all of the useful technology – which I’ll outline in later reports – but with a (WLTP) electric range of 37 miles. At roughly twice what I was getting from the previous generation, that should be enough to make real difference to fuel economy over a long distance. Cold weather hasn’t helped energy economy so far, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see how it stacks up over the coming months.


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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.