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BMW’s plug-in hybrid F30 3 Series LCI is finally approaching production, with it being set to debut in US showrooms in summer this year with a starting price of $44,695 including Destination and Handling. It’s got a new name too – the BMW 330e iPerformance, sharing the same suffix as its larger sibling the 740e iPerformance. We expect the BMW X5 xDrive40e to eventually get the iPerformance suffix as well.

Under the hood is a similiar 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine, electric motor and 8-speed gearbox combo as the larger 740e iPerformance, but here it’s slightly down on power with a 180 hp and 290 Nm of torque for the combustion engine and 87 hp, 250 Nm for the electric motor, which is sandwiched between the engine and gearbox in place of a torque converter.

Combined system output is 248 hp, 420 Nm, compared to 326 hp and 500 Nm for the 740e. The electric motor is fed by a lithium ion battery with a 5.7 kWh net capacity (7.6 kWh gross).

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The 100 km/h sprint can be done in 5.9 seconds, on to a top speed of 225 km/h. The 330e can move on electric power alone up to 120 km/h for up to 22.5 km. You can encourage the 330e to move on electric power alone by switching to MAX eDRIVE mode.

The default mode is AUTO eDRIVE, in which the system puts both the combustion engine and the electric motor to use in an optimized manner. In this mode, electric drive can be used up to 80 km/h. There’s also a SAVE BATTERY mode, which would be useful to activate before you reach an area where you would prefer to run on EV mode as much as you can, such as a parking lot or housing area.

Interestingly, GPS map data is also used to optimize driving efficiency in a system called the Proactive Driving Assistant. For example, the car will use more electric power for uphill stretches so that full regeneration potential can be used on the subsequent downhill stretch.

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As a plug-in hybrid, the BMW 330e iPerformance can be charged externally via the main power supply. The car is hooked up to the power supply via the charging socket, which is located in the front wing on the driver’s side, between the front wheel arch and the A-pillar.

The empty lithium-ion high-voltage battery can be fully replenished in just two hours and 30 minutes using a BMW i Wallbox Level II 240V charger (charging power: 3.5 kW, can be installed at home or the workplace).

Alternatively, the BMW 330e iPerformance can also be charged from empty in 6-7 hours from a conventional domestic power socket (Level I 120V charger) using the standard charging cable supplied. These stats obviously do not apply to us because we’re a 240V country.

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The F30’s original hybrid offering was the ActiveHybrid 3, which featured a 3.0 litre turbocharged inline-six engine with an electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the gearbox. It was priced at RM398,800 in Malaysia as a CBU import thanks to a partial duty exemption, but has since been discontinued.

Since the F30 LCI is already locally assembled in Malaysia, could there be a chance that we might see the BMW 330e introduced here this year?

GALLERY: BMW 330e on-location at Garching/Munich