Nuts & Bolts: 2013 BMW Active Hybrid 3

June 14, 2013

Bottom line: The 2013 BMW Active Hybrid 3 is a bona fide full gas-electric hybrid. At the moment, however, it is for people more concerned about prestige than they are about fuel economy and reduced tailpipe emissions.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent marks in all three. The car is an absolute joy to drive.

Head-turning quotient: Superior. I live part time in New York City and environs, where parking attendants aren’t easily smitten by luxury metal. But the attendants went nuts over the Active Hybrid 3. I could’ve charged them for the privilege of parking it.

Body style/layout: This is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive car with four side doors and a traditional notch-back trunk. It is a member of the famed BMW 3-Series and is available in three iterations — Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport. It’s an “entry-level” luxury car, which translates here to nominally starting under $50,000.

Drive system: The car is equipped with a 3-liter, 24-valve in-line six-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing. The gasoline engine works in tandem with an electric motor powered by an advanced lithium-ion battery. Together, the systems produce 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. The transmission is an eight-speed — repeat, eight-speed — automatic.

The electric system handles most of the work in low-speed, low-load conditions, such as city driving. The gasoline engine takes over on the highway and in heavy-load driving. The two systems work together seamlessly.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 14 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 15 gallons of gasoline (premium unleaded is required).

Mileage: My real-world mileage was 28 miles per gallon on the highway. Speed is consumptive. Next time, I will slow down and save.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes; four-wheel anti-lock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; front-rear parking proximity warning system; a post-collision safety system; driver and front-passenger head-restraint whiplash protection; high-intensity-discharge headlamps; side and head air bags; and a rearview camera.

Price: The 2013 BMW Active Hybrid 3 sedan starts at $49,650, with a dealer’s invoice price of $45,680. Price as tested is $57,525, including $6,950 in options (onboard navigation; blind-side and lane-departure warning systems with active mitigation, such as a vibrating steering wheel; premium sound system; and other items) and a $925 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $52,925.

Warren Brown is a columnist who writes about autos for The Washington Post.
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