Turns out you don't need a hybrid for the freeway.
When it comes to economical gasoline-powered cars, we can rattle off a long list of cars worth investigating to stretch the time between visits to the gas station. Until today, nothing on that list would have had a BMW badge. However, when Car and Driver performed its highway fuel-economy test on the BMW 330i the final number the testers found themselves reading off was jaw-dropping. It had achieved 42 miles per gallon at a consistent speed of 75 mph. That's not just impressive, it's worthy of a cheeky victory dance for BMW as that number bests every other competitor in its class.
To give that number perspective, that's also better freeway mpg than cars known for their economy that Car and Driver has tested in the same manner, including the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Hyundai Ionic Hybrid. Ironically, the 3-Series' 42 mpg also bests the BMW 530e hybrid's run at 38 mpg.
The 330i isn't exactly a slowpoke either, despite being the entry level into the 3-Series world and coming with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Power wise, that little engine delivers 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque in a sprightly manner. Just to raise the ante even more, the test car came with the M Sport options added. It wasn't even wearing rubber geared towards economy with the 330i being shod with sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
While the 330i came in 2 mpg lighter than the current Toyota Camry hybrid, in its class it even outperformed the Jaguar XE with a diesel engine. And if there's still capacity for surprise, the new 330i did all that and improved over last year's model in chassis performance by 10 percent in two tests. Car and Driver recorded it hanging 0.94 g on the skidpad and then stopping from 70 mph in 150 feet. Whatever people's reservation might be about BMW's new generations of cars in terms of feel, this squashes any doubts the engineering is up to scratch.
It might even explain why we see so many 3 Series drivers coming up behind other cars on the freeway and sticking themselves to the rear bumper. They're not in a rush, they're just eager to maintain their speed for economy reasons.