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First Drive: 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3

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rsz-bmw-activehybrid-3-intro-3 (Photo credit: Inhabitat)

 

Luxury and fuel economy merge together in BMW’s ActiveHybrid 3 sport sedan. Drivers who were unwilling to sacrifice the driving performance of a gas-powered vehicle may have found their hybrid. To call it an economy car would be inaccurate for negative and positive reasons.

The ActiveHybrid 3 certainly doesn’t perform like the average hybrid. In fact, experts have had a hard time distinguishing BMW’s latest hybrid with conventional Beamer speedsters during road tests. Even with with an electric motor, however, BMW doesn’t come close to the fuel economy of the Toyota Prius, Honda Accord Hybrid and other market leaders.

With the ActiveHybrid 3 release, it’s hard to declare BMW a serious player in the hybrid/electric vehicle (EV) market just yet, but the German automaker has shown a commitment to hybrid technology without sacrificing driving performance.

Under the Hood

BMW outfitted its latest hybrid with the 335i’s 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, along with a 55 horsepower electric motor capable of propelling the vehicle on its own for up to 2.5 miles. With an EPA rating of 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving, the ActiveHybrid 3 gains just two mpg on the standard BMW 335i. BMW claims additional features, including a coasting function, will enhance “real world” fuel economy, according to Forbes.com.

Eco-friendly consumers may be disappointed in the fuel economy, but BMW maintained the legendary driving performance that has defined its brand — the ActiveHybrid 3 goes zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds. Autoweek compared the ActiveHybrid 3 to its standard companion, the 335i, accept that the hybrid is “faster, quieter and more economical.”

Budget-conscious shoppers may opt for a certified pre-owned BMW, but this hybrid is the German automaker’s most technically advanced vehicle to date.

On the Ground

Responsive steering and superb weight distribution enable powerful, aggressive driving without compromising control. Available M suspension increases performance and control, while the Dynamic Stability Control System optimizes braking. The weight of an additional motor challenges these stabilizing measures more than some of BMW’s other models, but according to Autoweek, the ActiveHybrid has no problem gripping corners.

In the Cab

BMW retained a classic interior in the ActiveHybrid 3, but some new gadgets highlight the luxury. Tan leather covers the spacious seats and wooden accents set the atmosphere inside the cab. An engine start/stop button removes the hassle of key and ignition, and ambiance lighting further promotes a relaxed environment.

The iDrive 6.5-inch flat screen display controls air conditioning, audio and navigation systems. A Bluetooth wireless system allows for hands-free communication and HD radio adds enjoyment and function to this high-end hybrid.

From Your Wallet

Starting at just under $50,000, the ActiveHybrid 3 runs $8,000 more than its closest standard relative, the 335i. Some drivers may not find two additional miles per gallon worth that amount, but the consensus among experts seems to be that, with or without hybrid technology, the Active Hybrid 3 is a superior vehicle.

It may not win “Green Car of the Year“, but the ActiveHybrid may be the highest-performing green hybrid around. If you’re in the market for a luxury vehicle, save a couple miles per gallon and consider BMW’s latest innovation.

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