The BMW 3 Series Touring has long established itself as one of the best compact executive estates out there; never exactly cavernous, but practical, handsome, and with the dynamic prowess of the saloon kept intact. Now the range is broadening further, with the first hybrid 3 Touring joining the petrol and diesel models.
Typically an addition of one model to an enormous range isn't that significant, but as the first electrified 3 Series estate, the 330e is a little more important than most. Like the 330e saloon that's already available, the Touring combines a 184hp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo with a 113hp electric motor for an 'Xtraboost' maximum of 292hp in Sport mode. Typically it runs with 252hp, alongside 310lb ft; provisionally at least, BMW saying 6.1 seconds to 62mph, 136mph top speed, and maximums for purely electric running of 87mph and 34 miles.
The 330e Touring will also be offered with xDrive; while adding a tenth to the 62mph sprint time and reducing the top speed, it retains the same electric range and will no doubt appeal to those buyers wanting to tick a lot of boxes with one car. Both the rear- and all-wheel drive versions are close to their saloon counterparts on efficiency: the provisional numbers are 39g/km and 176mpg (rear-drive) or 46g/km and 156mpg (xDrive).
The hybrid tech does have an impact on practicality, however, with maximum boot space for the 330e of 1,420 litres - down from the 1,510 of a combustion-engined Touring. The lithium ion batteries, rated at 12 kWh and 34 Ah, are replenished either by regenerative braking or a charge. Through a domestic supply that's 5.7 hours from dead to 100 per cent, or 3.4 hours with a BMW i Wallbox.
Otherwise it's as per any other model, BMW suggesting this e offers "a blend of plug-in hybrid efficiency benefits and traditional 3 Series driving dynamics." Furthermore, with six cylinders reserved solely for the M340i - the M340d not yet confirmed - it's arguable that models like the 330i don't hold the advantage of straight-six prestige they might once have. Which makes the 330e all the more intriguing; it goes on sale this summer, with UK prices and specs to follow soon. Might it be the pick of the 3 Series range?