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BMW ActiveHybrid 3: The BMW with two hearts

The best of two worlds: the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 combines the best BMW TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine with an efficient electric drive and an eight-gear automatic. The result is a unique BMW. Like the BMW ActiveHybrid 5, the hybrid version of the BMW 3 Series is powered by the award-winning BMW in-line six-cylinder engine.... Read more »

The best of two worlds: the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 combines the best BMW TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine with an efficient electric drive and an eight-gear automatic. The result is a unique BMW.

Like the BMW ActiveHybrid 5, the hybrid version of the BMW 3 Series is powered by the award-winning BMW in-line six-cylinder engine. The Otto-engine – which is used in the BMW 335i as well – has been honoured twice in a row with the international “Engine of the Year Award” and has won many fans in recent years. Now it is supplemented by an electric motor that provides the BMW 3 Series with an additional dynamic and much-improved efficiency.

The BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid is being exhibited next to its sister vehicles from the BMW 5 Series and BMW 7 Series. The electric motor in all three draws its power from a lithium-ion high-performance battery located under the trunk between the wheel housings. The battery is charged while driving by means of an energy recovery system.

The electric motor boosts the power of the BMW TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder by up to 40 kW (54 hp), which leads to a maximum system output of 250 kW (340 hp). The BMW hybrid can thus accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in a standstill in 5.3 seconds. By comparison: the batteryless and electric motorless BMW 335i sedan manages this sprint in the same time, but at a cost of up to 30% more fuel.



The electric motor of the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is integrated into the housing of the eight-speed automatic. The connection between the electric motor and the transmission is made by means of clutch. This has among other things the advantage that the gears are better tuned and that the optimal RPMs can be maintained longer.

My new favourite toy can be found in the BMW hybrid as well: The Driving Experience Control. The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 behaves differently depending on the selected mode. In ECO PRO mode the entire vehicle is tuned to for efficiency by means of a changed gas and transmission parameters. In addition, it is possible to „sail“ at speeds of up to 160 km/h, that is, the car „rolls“ when no gas is applied. The electrical system drives the power steering, power brakes and oil circulation system. The gasoline engine is turned off. when gas is given, the engine starts again and accelerates. It is virtually a “start-stop system while driving.” Anticipatory driving and recursive breaking (that is, so that energy recovery is possible and the battery can be charged) allows for significant fuel savings.
But back to the Driving Experience Control switch. In SPORT mode, the combustion engine is only switched off at low speeds, which makes for particularly sporty driving at higher RPMs with additional power provided by the electric motor. In COMFORT mode the electrical motor takes over again, but without shutting off the comfort functions such as the seat or external mirror heater, as is the case with the ECO PRO mode.

“The ActiveHybrid 3 has the power of an eight-cylinder.” wrote AutoBILD recently. They are right: the power of an eight-cylinder power in a straight-six cylinder with – averaging 6.4 per 100 km -a fuel efficiency reminiscent of a four cylinder (see the BMW 320i). For BMW fans its the perfect mix…

Published: 12. October 2012

About the author

Jonas Eling is a freelance motoring journalist. He writes for Germanys AUTO ZEITUNG as well as one of the largest BMW magazines in the world - german Bimmertoday.

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