That’s right, the Bimmer is back in my care! My previous turn with our long-term 330e was cut short by an imminent appointment to be fitted with some snow tires. Apparently, that was right around the same time Old Man Winter decided to head up north and leave behind an uncharacteristically mild season. It wasn’t until late February and early March that the weather really took a turn. Our second winter storm in as many weeks dropped nearly half a foot of heavy, boot-sucking snow just after I’d taken over the reins of the 330e, now sporting its winter boots. Mmm, is there anything prettier than slush on a snow tire? I submit not.
Normally, I’d start the morning after a snowstorm by shoveling out, but part of (OK, most of) the joy of testing winter tires comes from trying to get them stuck. So I left the shovel where it sat and went about removing the snow from the exterior of the car. While I used a brush, what actually happened could best be described as sloughing. As the snow fell off in heavy, wet sheets, my neighbor stopped by to let me know that she’d gotten her small CUV hung up on a branch down at the end of the road but had been able to rock free. Despite my confidence in the BMW’s winter rubber, ground clearance is ground clearance. When I set out, I pointed the car in the other direction.
The interaction between traction control and electric drive is eerie. It can feel at times like the car is doing nothing but wait patiently for a wheel to register traction. The hybrid system’s multiple control modules will perform millions of calculations just in the time it takes your brain to formulate that observation, but apart from an illuminated warning on the cluster indicating the traction control system’s intervention, there’s no evidence that anything is happening at all. Until you just … go.
It can feel like an eternity, but it’s never more than a half-second. Once the car finds its feet, it digs in and goes. While the snow cover sits lower than the 330e’s ride height, the streets are all ruts and ridges. The true depth ranges from an inch and a half of slushy water to a foot of slop interspersed with rocks, sticks and who knows what else. More than once, I put the BMW on the higher spots in an attempt to bog it down, but the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R5s shrugged it off each time. After aimlessly circulating for a while, I came upon the downed branch my neighbor had encountered; fortunately, there was a BMW’s worth of room to maneuver around it.
With these tires on it, the 330e’s major obstacle would be how much snow it can plow out of the way. We’d hate to see the beautiful finish on this 330e beat to hell from the abuse, but if you’re planning to daily a low-slung sedan in the winter time, it’s comforting to know you have the flexibility.