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BMW Active Hybrid 3: Test Drive Review

Date: 03 August 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £40,060
Key rival: Peugeot 508 Hybrid4

BMW's second attempt at a production hybrid is smaller, cheaper and cleaner than the executive Active Hybrid 5 that launched in May.

The upper medium Active Hybrid 3 uses the same running gear, but starts at £6015 less, returns superior economy, (47.9mpg vs 44.1mpg), is 0.6 seconds faster to 62mph and emits 139g/km next to the 5's 149g/km. The smaller model also has a 390-litre boot - 15 litres larger than that of the 5.

The 306hp 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine is billed as more of an alternative to large petrol-only models such as the 335i, with which it shares its engine. Throw in the 34hp electric motor and it becomes an immensely fast car, while the driver can switch from the model's most sedate and clean setting - Eco Pro - through to Sport Plus, which sharpens the responses and limits the input of the traction control system. The usual 3-series traits of crisp handling, a comfortable ride and superb build quality are also present.

Impressive though it is in both its performance and ability to run on electric power alone (up to 2.4 miles and 37mph), the car faces the same problems as the Hybrid 5. They are the high P11D price and the various guises of diesel 3-series, which are cheaper, cleaner and perfect for business drivers.

The closest current model in terms of power is the 330d, which packs 258hp and will hit 62mph in 5.6 seconds. It attracts a 1% higher BIK band at 19%, but the significantly lower P11D of £33,225 for the like-for-like SE model, combined with 57.6mpg and 129g/km results in a more palatable 67.7 pence per mile. And that's ignoring the 316d and 320d variants, which despite more modest power outputs, obliterate the hybrid on costs.

BMW Active Hybrid 3 SE
P11D price£40,060
Model price range£25,865-£43,225
Residual value38.8%
National Insurance£3151
Cost per mile82.5p
Fuel consumption47.9mpg
CO2 (tax) 139g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month£120/£240
Service intervalvariable miles
Insurance (1-50)group 38 (estimated)
Warranty3yrs unlimited mls
Boot space390 litres
Engine size/power2979cc (plus electric
Top speed/0-62mph155mph/5.3secs
On sale September 2012
VerdictImpressive but not
as good all-round a
package as the diesels


Impressive but not as good all-round a package as the diesels