BMW 330e vs Tesla Model Y (2024)

Deep dive comparison

2023 BMW 330e 2024 Tesla Model Y


The 330e M Sport is an excellent car, but it could be a much better hybrid.

In Australia, where driving distances can be vast, a car that's as comfortable and easy to live with as this one is welcome. But for the electric range to dissipate so quickly, and not recoup again at a fast enough rate without plugging into a charger, is disappointing.

There are other plug-in hybrids, even among the more affordable mainstream brands, which can return charge to the battery incredibly quickly and effectively on the go.

If you are looking to make the step into a hybrid, then perhaps consider a fully electric car. There isn't a battery electric 3 Series on the market in Australia (yet), but BMW does sell the iX1 small SUV for less money than a 330e or the iX3 for a tad more.

Both are pure electric SUVs and have a range of between 400-500km. You'll never need petrol again, which makes a hybrid seem outdated.


The Model Y Long Range is the pick of the line-up thanks mainly to its ability to travel further on a full charge, but also the price is excellent. The styling is starting to date, especially compared to fresher rivals with intriguing designs. But the advantage to Tesla is its battery tech and the constant over-the-air updates which will continue to enhance this product long after you've bought it.


Once upon a time sedans were all we drove, well mainly. Then SUVs became the style of car most people wanted. In fact, three out of four new cars sold in Australia today are SUVs.

So, I commend you on your choice of not just doing what everybody else does, and you'll be rewarded with better driving dynamics, and ownership of an iconic BMW - the four door, 3 Series.

And even though this is a plug-in hybrid version of the 3 Series it's identical in styling to the petrol variants. Only the light blue border around the BMW roundel is the indication that it's an electric vehicle. That and the charging flap near the left front wheel.

The M Sport pack adds some very sexy features such as the M Sport aerodynamic body kit, the door sills and M Sport seats, but the M Sport Pro Pack our car came with adds a black gloss grille, boot lid spoiler and the snazzy seat belts.

The cabin's double screens are impressive but I miss analogue gauges and found the digital instrument cluster overly busy and led more by cool design than functionality.


The Model Y is a mid-sized SUV, about 4.75 metres long and has an aerodynamic wedge shape similar to the one Toyota’s early Prius had, but with a smooth and flat styling Tesla twist.

The clean and featureless look made the Model Y appear futuristic and modern two years ago but now, with the arrival of other mid-sized electric rivals and their intriguing and attractive designs, the Tesla is starting to appear dated.

There is a styling update coming to the Model Y, but it won’t be a completely new car, just a few tweaks to keep it looking current. But it won’t do much. I think the time is up on this design.

The cabin embraces minimalism with plenty of clean and smooth horizontal surfaces devoid of buttons or dials. Only the large central screen and the steering wheel exist on the dashboard and in my eyes compared to rival offerings the Model Y’s interior has quickly gone from cool to devoid of personality.


People will tell you SUVs are more practical than sedans... and they're right, but not in as many ways as they probably think.

The cabins of sedans and SUVs of the same size are close in terms of space, but the 330e comes with excellent storage - better than many SUVs I've tested, featuring enormous door pockets, and a deep centre console storage bin.

There are four cupholders, too. Two in the fold down armrest in the back and another two up front.

There's also wireless charging up front, plus USB ports for the back passengers. The second row also has its own climate control and directional air vents.

Legroom is excellent in the back and I can sit behind my driving position with plenty of room to spare. Headroom is also excellent thanks to the tall roofline of the 3 Series.

Where a sedan isn't as practical as an SUV is its ride height, which makes getting in and out of the latter easier (although the 330e's doors open very wide) and its boot opening.

SUVs have hatch-like openings and that offers a wider and taller aperture for carrying cargo.

The 330's boot was still big enough to fit our two largest CarsGuidesuitcases (see the video), but the location of the battery means cargo capacity has been reduced from 480 litres in a petrol 330i to 375 litres in this 330e.


Electric SUVs have moved practicality to a level combustion-engine equivalents can’t compete with thanks to their front and back boots and (no transmission tunnel) flat floors maximising people and storage space.

The Model Y is practical with a 117L front boot and a rear boot with 854L litres of cargo capacity, while the cabin has large door pockets, wireless phone charging and two cupholders up front and in the second row.

The Model Y comes as a five-seater only, but leg- and headroom in the second row is excellent and even at 189cm tall I can sit behind my driving position.

Back seat passengers also have directional air vents and two USB ports for charging.

Cabin practicality could be better, though. The large centre console is unnecessary as it’s not covering a transmission and driveshaft. We’re seeing other brands such as Kia make use of this area as a storage space perfect for even large bags.

Locking and unlocking the Model Y is done with a key card that needs to be swiped against a sensor in the B-pillar. This worked sporadically for me and I felt like the action could scratch the pillar’s surface.

There’s a phone app which can also lock and unlock the Model Y. Wedownloaded it and found the functions useful, from seeing how much charge is in the battery, to opening the boot, tracking the location of the car and turning the climate control on to cool or heat the cabin before driving.

Price and features

The BMW 330e M Sport lists for $97,400, which is $4000 more than its 330i petrol twin.

The M Sport part of the name is there because the 330e comes standard with the M Sport pack. And that gives you a tough body kit, M Sport suspension, M Sport seats and aluminium trim, as well as M Sport door sills.

The car we tested and the one you can see in the video and images also comes with the 'M Sport Pro Package'. It costs $2800 and adds a boot-lid spoiler, glossy black grille and tail pipes, and M Sport seat belts, among other goodness.

This car also had the optional 'Visibility Package' fitted. It costs $4800 and adds a sunroof and adaptive LED headlights.

There's no direct rival for the 330e in Australia now. Mercedes Benz used to have a C300e, a plug-in version of its C-Class, but retired it locally some time ago.

The standard features of the 330e M Sport are identical to the 330i M Sport.

So, along with that M Sport pack also coming standard on the 330e is a head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, a 14.9-inch media screen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, three zone-climate control, wireless phone charging, digital radio and power adjustable front seats.

Is it good value? There's a stack of equipment, tech, beautiful M Sport additions and it all feels superbly high quality. But knowing you can have a 330i for less means you're paying more just for the hybrid system. So, let's talk about that...

Price and features

Only the weather changes more than Tesla’s pricing, but the latest adjustment to the Model Y Long Range price had it listing for $72,900. That could easily change again so it might be best to check back at CarsGuideor Tesla’s website for any updates.

At almost $73K the Long Range sits in the middle of the Model Y line-up, above the $64K entry grade and below the $83K Performance.

The standard features list for on the Model Y Long Range is decent and includes LED headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels, there’s the fixed glass roof, synthetic leather upholstery, the 15-inch central touchscreen, power adjustable and heated front seats, a 13-speaker stereo, sat nav, wireless phone charging, dual-zone climate control with direction air-vents in the second row and a power tailgate.

Also standard is Tesla’s so-called 'Autopilot' which is an advanced form of adaptive cruise control which combines braking and steering.

Anything missing? A sunshade for the glass roof would be good. You can buy aftermarket ones but really it should be built-in. There’s no rear climate control, either, nor ventilated seats.

But the one item that’s not here and should be is a head-up display because the location of the speedo on the central display isn't ideal for keeping your eyes forward and on the road.

So, the price is good but the features list could do with a boost.Really, though, the reason for picking the Long Range grade is because it can travel further on a full charge than any other Model Y. You can skip ahead to the Efficiency section if you’re busting to find out what the range is.

As for rivals, there are way more now than there were when the Model Y first came to Australia a couple years ago. Back then it was really just the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Now there’s the Kia EV6 and soon to arrive EV5, the Mustang Mach-E, the Subaru Solterra and its Toyota bZ4X twin, while the Polstar 4 is coming, too.

Under the bonnet

The 330e M Sport has a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. The engine makes 135kW while the motor produces up to 80kW, for a combined dollop of 215kW. Total torque is more than sufficient at 420Nm.

Acceleration to 100km/h from zero feels as quick as the 5.8 seconds BMW claims and that's also about a tenth of a second brisker than the 330i.

The 'XtraBoost' function combines the total output of both the engine and motor briefly providing that great acceleration.

An eight-speed automatic shifts gears smoothly with the drive going to the rear wheels.

I like all this very much - the responsive engine, the fantastic transmission, the extra oomph from the motor and the way it all works together seamlessly. It's just a shame it's not as efficient as some other new plug-in hybrids.

Under the bonnet

The Model Y Long Range is all-wheel drive thanks to a motor powering the front wheels and another turning the rear ones.

Together the motors have a combined output of 378kW and 493Nm which is an enormous amount of power and torque for a family SUV like this and that means the 0-100km/h time is also a pretty quick 5.0 seconds.


The 330e M Sport is a plug-in hybrid which must be connected to an external power source regularly to charge its 12kWh battery.

The charging flap is located on the left side of the car near the front passenger door, which worked well for me as I could steer the 330e into my driveway and connect to a powerpoint on the wall using the charging cable provided.

It took me about six hours to charge the battery to 100 per cent from zero and that gives you a maximum 57km of electric driving range.

During my four days with the 330e Sydney's summer temperatures were hitting 34-degeres Celsius and with the climate control keeping the cabin at a hospitable 18C electric range was seriously cut short to about 40km.

I drove the 330e in hybrid mode nearly all the time - this is a hybrid after all. But there is a 'Sport' mode for more grunt and a 'Battery Hold' mode to save the charge for later.

I started with a full charge and a full tank of petrol, and for four days I lived with the 330e as I do with all my test cars.

I didn't aim to get the best fuel economy ever, nor was I wasteful with fuel. My wife and I, plus our two kids, just used it as our family car, doing trips to the beach, endless laps of the supermarket car park looking for a space, a birthday party, the lot.

I drove 154.7km over those four days and charged it on the second day after the battery was drained completely before driving another 70km or so over the next couple of days.

When I filled up after this it needed 7.74 litres to reach full again - it's a small 41 litre tank.

That converts to average fuel consumption of 5.0L/100km, which is bang on double the 2.5L/100km BMW says you should get.

I don't doubt you could get 2.5L/100km, but you'd have to be doing short trips and charging almost every time you weren't driving. And not use the climate control on an icy blast setting.

I've tested other plug-in hybrids that achieved much better mileage and that's because their on-board charging capabilities were excellent.

Some were even able to use the petrol engine to power the motor in reverse and therefore act as a generator to recharge the batteries fully.

The 330e M Sport doesn't do a good job of charging its battery while on the go. Sport mode does recoup charge to the battery, but again, if you're doing a long motorway trip that charge evaporates fast.

I don't think this type of plug-in hybrid is suited well to our country where we don't blink an eye at travelling 100km for Christmas lunch and then drive back again.

Also think about if you ever go on a trip away and don't have access to a power point or public charger. It's happened to me.


The Model Y Long Range’s name suggests it's the version for those looking for the maximum distance they can travel on a full charge and it is the smart choice in the line-up. That said, the extra range isn’t all that much more than the other grades.

Tesla says the Long Range with its battery fully charged can travel up to 533km and has a combined cycle energy efficiency of 16.9kWh per 100km (WLPT).

A range of 533km is impressive but only 78km more than the entry-grade Model Y and just 19km more than the top-of-the-line Performance.

How accurate are Tesla fuel efficiency figures? Well, my own testing over a combination of all types of driving saw the trip computer report an average of 16.8kWh/100km.

Tesla says one of its 250kW Superchargers can add up to 275km of range in 15 minutes.


The 330e M Sport is outstanding to drive. The driving position is superb, the steering is effortless and accurate, handling is excellent and the ride is beautifully comfortable.

Brake pedal feel is surprisingly good for a hybrid - some have a wooden sensation.

The transition from electric motor to petrol engine is also remarkably smooth.

Acceleration in Sport mode is sudden, with the engine and motor combining their mumbo to move you. There is a 'fake' or synthesised exhaust note in Sport mode, but it sounds convincing.

Speaking of sounds at lower speeds, in fully electric mode the 330e emits a warning tone to alert pedestrians of your presence. It's quite loud in car parks and does actually make people turn around looking for a UFO.


CarsGuidehasn't been alone in criticising the Model Y’s overly firm suspension with potholes and bumps seeming to unsettle the vehicle easily.

But Tesla says it's updated the suspension to a more ‘comfortable’ tune and we had a chance to test it.

So, is it more comfortable now? Yes, but it could be better. There appears to be softer absorption in the suspension but anything other than small bumps are still prominent.

Body control remains a bit jelly-like in that there’s too much jiggling and leaning when driving normally, even on typical suburban roads.

At this price point we'd expect the ride to be more comfortable and settled. But this is unlikely to be a deal breaker for most people.

Otherwise, the Model Y drives like most electric cars with instant and quick acceleration, direct steering and it’s all done in silence which makes commuting far more pleasant than idling in the traffic with a petrol or diesel engine and a transmission constantly shifting from first to second and back.

And apart from not using petrol or diesel that's the appeal of electric cars; how easy they are to drive.

What would make life even easier is a head-up display or driver’s instrument cluster because the current central screen set-up, which shows the speed in a fairly small size in the display's top right corner, is far from ideal.

There have been cases reported on Australian Tesla forums where displays have broken making the car illegal to operate and if this happens out of warranty the repair can be costly.

Be aware, too, that the 'Full Self-Driving' abilities of the Model Y are restricted in Australia. The law states that some autonomous tech can be used, such as adaptive cruise control with lane changing, but you must keep your hands on the wheel.


The 3 Series was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2019. The 330e comes standard with AEB, lane keeping assistance, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

There are excellent cameras front and rear and LED headlights, too.

Adaptive cruise control is also standard on the 330e M Sport.


The Model Y was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating in 2022, scoring incredibly well for occupant protection for adults and children. The advanced tech on board includes AEB, lane keeping assistance and blind-spot warning.

Great all-round camera vision is offered by the Model Y, too, which is very much needed for rear vision given the back window's modest viewing aperture.

For child seats there are three top tether anchor points and two ISOFIX mounts in the second row.

The Model Y doesn’t have a spare wheel, but there is a puncture repair kit.

Quick note about the lack of physical buttons. I found not having easy to access physical climate control dials distracting. Most of the car’s other functions are also housed in the media display and I feel this is a potential safety issue.


The 330e M sport is covered by BMW's five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. The hybrid battery is covered by a six-year/100,000km warranty.

BMW offers a five-year/80,000km service package for the 3 Series for $2150.

Service intervals are condition-based, and the car will let you know when it's time for a check-up.


When it comes to ownership the Tesla Model Y is covered by a four-year/80,000km warranty which falls short of the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s five-year, unlimited kilometre cover and Kia’s seven-year, unlimited km promise on the EV6.

As for the battery warranty, Tesla will cover it foreight years or 192,000km, which is better than Hyundai’s eight year 160,000km deal and seven years or 150,000km from Kia.

The Model Y has condition-based servicing, meaning it will tell you when it wants to go to a Tesla workshop.

BMW 330e vs Tesla Model Y (2024)
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