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The BMW 3-Series has long reigned as the enthusiast's choice in a small luxury car. And a new model for 2013 -- the ActiveHybrid 3 -- puts a distinctly performance-oriented spin on the hybrid concept.
The ActiveHybrid 3 pairs BMW's famed TwinPower 3-liter inline-6 with an electric motor to pump out 335 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. This combination launches the ActiveHybrid 3 to 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds.
Acceleration like this comes at the cost of somewhat mediocre fuel economy. An ActiveHybrid 3 returns 25 mph city and 33 mpg highway -- an improvement of only a few miles per gallon on a conventional 335i.
The ActiveHybrid 3 comes in a single trim level with standard features like Bluetooth connectivity, power seats and steering-wheel-mounted controls. BMW also offers a number of option packages: Luxury Line, Modern Line, Sport Line, M Sport Line, Driver Assistance Plus, Driver Assistance, Premium, Dynamic Handling and Technology.
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 includes standard features like: Driving Dynamics Control with economy, comfort and sport settings; four-wheel ventilated disc brakes; stability control; 18-inch light-alloy wheels; xenon headlights; leatherette upholstery; eight-way power seats; and an AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio system with iPod adapter. There is also a lengthy options list.
Reliable Honda drivetrain, better mpg and low base price, but lacks horsepower and limited standard features
Better mpg, real leather seating and lower price, but ungainly looks and underpowered
Sky-high mpg, fully loaded and low price, but polarizing appearance and more bulky than the BMW
SEL Premium trim is similarly equipped, super-low price and great mpg, but less power and luxury