2013 BMW 3-Series Hybrid


2013 BMW 3-Series Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 BMW 3-Series Hybrid was new.


Performance: 7.8

While some reviewers wish BMW had used a smaller gas engine to maximize fuel economy, other test drivers note that the 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 offers spirited acceleration, nimble handling and precise steering, which makes it one of the most fun-to-drive hybrid luxury cars.

  • "We drove the ActiveHybrid 5 a few months back and reported that it worked well, but indeed wished that it instead used the new turbo four-cylinder. We've now had the opportunity to drive the ActiveHybrid 3, and we're wishing the same thing, only harder." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "It's not quite M3 quick through the gears. However, the ActiveHybrid 3 is not that far behind the German carmaker's iconic performance sedan for outright speed. It also tracks beautifully at speeds, well beyond those deemed legal in the United States." -- AutoWeek  
  • "Even though it's touted as a hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 3 is a seriously powerful car. And no matter how that power is produced, it's intoxicating." -- Road and Track 
  • "Most engine start-stop events are utterly imperceptible if you're not looking at the tach. Only when driving in the Sport modes, which prevent the engine from shutting down while in motion, does the car occasionally shake a bit on shutdown and start-up." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 comes with a turbocharged six-cylinder engine and an electric motor, which generate a total of 335 horsepower. The hybrid powertrain is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. BMW says that the ActiveHybrid 3 is capable of traveling up to 2.5 miles on electric power alone at speeds up to 45 mph. The EPA reports that the 2013 ActiveHybrid 3 gets 25/33 mpg, which is significantly less than hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt and Lexus ES 300h. It’s also not much better than its gas-only sibling, the BMW 335i, which gets 23/33 mpg city/highway.

While the ActiveHybrid 3 uses more fuel than other hybrids in the class, reviewers note that its ample power and strong acceleration also make it more fun to drive than most hybrid rivals. They say that transitions between gas and electric power are smooth and quiet, and that the electric motor adds an ample dose of power.

  • "Like the 5, the ActiveHybrid 3 works extraordinarily well. The powerful (55-hp) electric motor can propel the car up to 47 mph, and the internal combustion engine starts and stops almost imperceptibly." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Despite the added weight, the ActiveHybrid 3 always feels determined, thanks to its generous amount of torque. The delivery is tremendously flexible, allowing it to pull tall gears at low revs without any trouble at all. It's much like a 335i sedan, only faster, quieter and more economical." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Despite the taller gearing, the transmission doesn't have to downshift much, thanks to the extra torque of the electric motor, so the hybridized 3 doesn't seem to have to work to deliver its power." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The BMW's willingness to perform is further heightened by an eight-speed automatic that spends remarkably little time hunting for the right ratio, while making creamy smooth shifts." -- Edmunds  

Handling and Braking

Just like its conventional 3-Series sibling, most reviewers say that the 2013 ActiveHybrid 3 offers engaging driving dynamics thanks to its agile handling and responsive steering. Most reviewers say that the regenerative brakes have a good, natural feel. However, one test driver comments that the brakes can be a little jerky when the regenerative system turns on or off. Another critic writes that since the large battery pack adds weight to the car’s tail, the ActiveHybrid 3 is less composed over large bumps than the gas-only 3-Series.

  • "The robust rear end also heaves over big bumps." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "The inherent response in the steering makes it fun to guide the ActiveHybrid 3 over winding back roads." -- AutoWeek 
  • "We can report for now that the 3-series hybrid goes about its fuel-saving business smoothly and unobtrusively. The car doesn't employ significant regenerative braking, so only a sensitive driver will notice the slight nonlinear feel to the pedal action." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Trying to feather the brakes without jerking your occupants' heads is made slightly more difficult by the not-always seamless transition from regenerative braking to the hydraulic sort." -- Edmunds 
  • "The system integration is pretty impressive. The brake pedal doesn't make it obvious when regen is handing off to friction, except sometimes in the last few inches when coming to a stop." -- Motor Trend

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