Leave it to BMW to turn popular conceptions about how a hybrid should drive on their ear. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 might bear an awkward name, but it delivers the kind of performance and comfort that have made the 3 Series the most popular entry-level luxury sedan on the market. It also proposes better-than-expected fuel efficiency while actually improving on the power and might of the previously top-tier BMW 335i.
It sounds like a tall order, but the German car company has pulled it off and created a niche for itself in the hybrid universe. Let’s take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3.
01. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Looks Just Like The Regular 3 Series
There’s really not a lot about the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3’s styling that gives it away as the battery-assisted version of the 3 Series. In fact, when examining all of its curves and angles one will quickly discover that the ActiveHybrid 3 is a dead ringer for the gas-only version of the compact luxury sedan. What gives the car away? Sail panel badging shows off the car’s ActiveHybrid status, and BMW super fans will notice the car’s Liquid Blue Metallic paint job as being exclusive to the hybrid (if the option is selected), as well as unique 18-inch rims that help the car sail through the air more smoothly.
02. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Delivers Almost Identical Comfort and Practicality 3
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 also matches the standard 3 Series sedan when it comes to its interior dimensions, which is a huge bonus for premium hybrid buyers as the 3 Series sedan offers superb passenger room both front and rear. The back seat of the ActiveHybrid 3 is particularly spacious when compared against several of its compact luxury rivals, and is usable by full-size adults even on longer road trips. The one area where the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 falls short of its gas-powered analog is the trunk, where there is just under 10 cubic feet of storage space available – down 3.2 cubic feet due to the placement of the car’s battery pack.
03. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Features A Unique Hybrid Drivetrain
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 dispels the image of hybrid cars as miserly and slow by virtue of its exceptionally potent drivetrain package. The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 builds off of the excellent 3.0-liter, turbocharged straight-six engine found in the BMW 335i, pairing it with an electric motor that is nestled up inside the car’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The result is a combination that cranks out 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, numbers that position the ActiveHybrid 3 above the 335i’s 302 ponies and 295 lb-ft of twist. The tranny also comes with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles for those who want to flip through the gears themselves.
04. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Isn’t Really About Fuel Efficiency
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 delivers a fuel economy rating of 25-mpg in city driving and 33-mpg on the highway – numbers that are roughly 25 percent better than those of the weaker BMW 335i. Of course, the much cheaper entry-level four-cylinder BMW 320i posts comparable fuel consumption figures, so it’s clear that the ActiveHybrid 3 does not make its case on frugality alone. Instead, the battery-assisted BMW manages to raise eyebrows by leaping to 60-mph from a standing start in just five seconds and burning down the quarter mile in the low-13 second range. This sparkling performance is achieved largely through the instantaneous delivery of the electric motor’s 155 lb-ft of torque, negating the 305 lbs of additional weight that the ActiveHybrid 3 carries compared to the 335i.
05. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Offers Driving Experience Control
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 comes with the Driving Experience Control feature while customizes the hybrid drivetrain’s characteristics in order to meet the needs of any given situation. Eco Pro is meant to squeeze as many miles as possible out of each drop of fuel, and as such it brings to bear the car’s automatic engine start/stop technology and also dials back throttle response to the point where the car can feels as though it is moving forward through molasses. Comfort splits the difference between ultimate efficiency and a more livable driving experience, while Sport and Sport+ tighten up the steering and create a more direct line between the driver’s right foot and the hybrid system’s power delivery to the rear wheels.
06. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Comes In Four Model Lines
Although technically not trim levels, the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is offered in three ‘Lines,’ which are treated as packages when it comes time to configure the sedan. The Luxury line includes 18-inch rims, leather seating, wood trim, and an M steering while, while the Sport line provides sport seats, a blacked-out headliner, unique 18-inch rims of its own, the choice between black, aluminum, or wood trim, and an M steering wheel. The M Sport line includes the contents of the Sport line plus ‘Shadowline’ blacked-out exterior trim, and special color options.
07. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Can Be Ordered With A Number Of Options
In addition to its ‘lines,’ the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 can be further customized via the selection of stand-alone options or packages. The Cold Weather package adds heated seats front and rear along with a heated steering wheel, the Driver Assistance Plus package includes a number of active safety features such as blind spot monitoring and a bird’s eye view camera system, and the Premium package provides keyless entry, further power adjustments for the front seats, satellite radio, and upgraded leather upholstery. The Dynamic Handling package offers a variable-assist steering feature along with an adaptive suspension system, and the Technology package includes the BMW Assist telematics system, a navigation system, and a head-up display.
08. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Enhances Its Eco-Cred With The Navigation Professional Feature
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 takes its quest for fuel efficiency in an even higher-tech dimension than expected when outfitted with the Navigation Professional option. Navigation Professional syncs the car’s hybrid system’s computer controller with the navigation feature’s analytical brain, and together the two plot out the likely fuel and power needs for the journey ahead based on the elevation and speed of the roads to be traveled. The ActiveHybrid 3 can then anticipate how much output needs to be available in a given situation and further finesse its fuel mileage.
09. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Is The Most Expensive 3 Series Model
If you want the green credibility that goes with driving a hybrid car, and you need a BMW roundel on the hood, then you are going to have to fork over a considerable amount of money. With a starting MSRP of $49,700, the 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid is almost $5,000 more expensive than the priciest, non-M edition of the 3 Series sedan, the 335i xDrive. Given that the 335i xDrive is essentially as quick as the ActiveHybrid 3, features all-wheel drive, and is much less expensive, the ActiveHybrid 3 is clearly targeted at buyers who feel a strong connection to the technology and philosophy behind the design of the battery-assisted BMW.
10. The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 Is Facing New Competition
The 2014 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 no longer has the entire hybrid sport sedan market to itself. Sure, vehicles like the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the Lexus ES hybrid have always been around to cater to the needs of premium greenies, but these models focus almost exclusively on improving efficiency, not putting a smile on the face of drivers. The emergency of the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid – a battery-assisted sedan built by a company known for imbuing its luxury cars with more than a little sports car DNA – promises to give the ActiveHybrid 3 a run for its money while costing less in the process. It also adds the wrinkle of available all-wheel drive. With BMW’s own i initiative launched worldwide, it remains to be seen if the future of the ActiveHybrid 3 will continue to forge such a blazing performance path, or if it will instead bow out in favor of dedicated hybrid and EV models like the BMW i3 and the sultry i8.