2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3

BMW has announced that the 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will start at $49,300, excluding destination fees. It goes on sale this fall.

It has the same twin turbo inline six-cylinder engine and electric motor as the ActiveHybrid 5, which make a combined 335 horsepower, as well as an eight-speed automatic transmission. Exterior differences from the gas-only 3-Series include hybrid badging on the C-pillars and trunk lid, and matte chrome exhaust tailpipes. Otherwise, the hybrid version is nearly the same as the gas-only model, with a Driving Dynamics Control adjustable driving mode selector, automatic climate control and available iDrive-controlled navigation.

Fuel economy hasn’t been announced yet, but BMW tends to use hybrid systems to increase horsepower, rather than to improve overall mileage. For instance, the hybrid version of the 2011 X6 gets worse combined gas mileage than the base model, according to the EPA, but it also has 180 more horsepower and an engine with two more cylinders than the base X6. “Fuel-economy numbers are forthcoming, but we do know the ActiveHybrid 3′s powertrain allows for up to 2.5 miles of electric-only driving, so long as you stay below 45 mph and have a fully topped-off battery pack,” writes Car and Driver.

With a starting price of less than $50,000, the BMW 3-Series hybrid will cost less than many other luxury hybrids that consumers are likely to cross-shop with the 3-Series. The 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid costs about $4,400 more than the 3-Series hybrid, and though it’s not a direct competitor, the 2013 Lexus GS Hybrid costs almost $9,700 more than the ActiveHybrid 3. The 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid costs far less, with an MSRP of $34,755, but it ranks nearly last in its class due to its subpar interior, though a redesigned 2013 MKZ Hybrid is on its way.

The $49,300 base price may seem to make a compelling argument for BMW’s new hybrid, but shoppers may want to consider other upcoming hybrid options. The 2013 Lexus ES hybrid was introduced at this year’s New York Auto Show, and should hit showrooms next month, according to Road and Track. The ES hybrid is a more direct competitor to the 3-Series hybrid than the GS hybrid, and although its price hasn’t been announced yet, it will slot below the GS hybrid.

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