When the 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 hits showrooms this fall, it will be the first of the meaner, greener compact BMW sedans to make way in the U.S., with performance rivaling the 335i’s and fuel economy likely better than the 328i’s 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway.
But it’ll come at a price: $6,500 more than the base 335i, or $50,195 to be exact.
That money goes towards some visual differentiation by way of its ActiveHybrid badges on its rear and rear pillars, 18-inch five-spoke wheels, and satin trim around the doors shared with Modern Line-equipped BMW 3 Series models. But mostly what you’re paying for is under the hood.
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 comes equipped with the automaker’s familiar 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6, which makes 300 horsepower. But it’s hooked to a 55-horsepower electric motor via a clutch pack in the transmission, allowing the engine and motor combination to produce a maximum 335 horsepower. BMW says that should be good enough to get the ActiveHybrid 3 from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, 0.1 second quicker than the non-hybrid 335i. BMW is notoriously very modest with its performance figures, though.
For the larger BMW ActiveHybrid 5, BMW says the same hybrid powertrain should be good for a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy. Based on that performance, the ActiveHybrid 3 should be able to achieve just under 40 mpg on the highway. BMW has not listed any fuel economy ratings yet.
With its trick hybrid setup, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will be able to rotate between a its gas and electric powertrains, running exclusively on electricity for 2.5 miles at an average speed of 20 mph. Also exclusive to the ActiveHybrid 3 is a coasting mode that allows the car to shut off its engine and disconnect it from the driveshaft to reduce friction and let the car travel farther on less energy. With a topography-reading engine, the car can sense when it will be going downhill, disallowing the engine to charge the car’s lithium-ion battery pack and instead using gravity to power it up. Using it, the car can optimize its engine and motor for the best fuel economy.
But, at its heart, the ActiveHybrid 3 is still a BMW, meaning that it’s still very much a performance sedan. Like other BMW 3 Series models, the hybrid version comes with selectable Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Eco Pro drive modes that optimize steering and throttle response. And like other 3 Series models, it’s still available with the Luxury, Modern, Sport, and M Sport trim lines that tailor the interior and exterior accents and add a layer of customization to the car.
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 joins the 7 Series and newcomer 5 Series hybrids in BMW’s lineup, adding to the automaker’s green portfolio and still leaving room for a smaller diesel engine to slot under it in the 3 Series lineup, a rumored engine option for future U.S.-bound cars. Look for the ActiveHybrid 3 to start showing up at dealerships this fall.