£26,730 - £36,300 Price range
40 - 65 MPG
Reviews of the BMW 2 Series Convertible are very positive. Owners of the 1 Series Convertible should know that this is its direct replacement – BMW’s tweak of their naming strategy dictates that two-door models such as this now start with an even number.
Based upon the 2 Series Coupe, the transition to an open top cruiser has largely been a success. Roof up or down, it looks well-proportioned and handsome, while the interior is well-built and reasonably well equipped. It’s a marked improvement on the BMW 1 Series that could look odd from some angles. It only really has one direct rival the Audi A3 Cabriolet –ƒ though the Audi TT roadster and more-show-than-go roadsters like the Mini Convertible and Vauxhall Cascada may be worth a look.
The extra body strengthening and equipment for the electric fabric roof adds about 150 kilos to the weight of a regular 2 Series. There is a lack of sharpness compared to the coupe, though unless you drive them side-by-side, you’d be hard pushed to really notice. A car like this is more about cruising anyway, and unless you’ve selected sport mode on the adaptive dampers, it remains quite comfortable most of the time, if lacking the ultimate refinement of the A3.
Thanks to a longer wheelbase than the old 1 Series, passenger space has improved slightly, though the back seats are still far too cramped for the majority of adults to slip into.
The range of engines is – as you’d expect from BMW – very strong. The most economical unit is the only diesel offering, the 220d, promising 60+mpg, though it isn’t the most refined of units. Performance fans will much prefer the M235i, which thanks to 326hp delivers seriously rapid acceleration.
Residual values are strong, particularly for the diesel model, though it’s worth bearing in mind that some of the options you’d hope were standard (such as leather seats) are an optional extra on base models.
Anyone who has experience with the regular 2 Series will feel instantly at home sat in the convertible. Indeed, anyone who has previously owned any BMW will: the dashboard is logically laid out, angled subtly towards the driver for a sporty feel, and everything feels well-screwed together. It could be argued that the Audi A3 slightly edges it in terms of build quality (and maybe more so in style) but it’s hard to fault. All models are fitted with a 6.5-inch screen and BMW’s iDrive system, while a larger 8.8-inch screen is available as an option.
In the aim of improving refinement, the 2 Series Convertible features a triple-skinned fabric hood. It works well, too: it’s as much as four decibels quieter than the old 1 series Convertible with the roof in place. Want to make the most of the sun? It only takes 19 seconds and the touch of a button to fold away the hood, at speeds of up to 31mph.
Despite an improvement in passenger space compared to its predecessor, the rear seats are still not really suitable for adults. If you treat it as a two-seater, you’ll find the cabin roomy and comfortable. After all, you’re only a button press away from an infinite amount of headroom.
Boot space and storage
With the roof up, boot space stands at 335-litres, which edges the 320-litres offered in the Audi A3 cabriolet. The folded roof reduces that figure by 55 litres (still five litres more than the A3) and if you accept that the rear seats aren’t really suitable for people, then storage space isn’t that bad at all. A ski hatch – allowing longer items to be loaded through the boot and into the cabin – is available as an optional extra. As with the regular 2 Series, the door pockets are large, while a central armrest allows smaller valuables to be stored out of sight.
Anyone looking for some sort of driving enjoyment from a car in this segment should look no further than the 2 Series. Testers enjoy the experience, in particular praising the “nicely balanced” drive, while the “grippy chassis delivers delicious handling”. The electric power steering system is one of the best of its type – the rack is quick and accurate, though one tester suggests that mid corner bumps can sometimes make it feel unsettled if you’re really pushing on.
The overall driving experience isn’t quite on a par with the coupe, but that is to be expected of a car not designed to be a convertible from the outset. Any cabriolet is compromised by gaining kilos of reinforcement to offset the loss of rigidity by chopping off the roof, but BMW has done a good job of reducing the number of shakes and shimmies that enter the cabin. On the larger-wheeled models, and with the optional adaptive dampers set to Sport mode, the occasional flex can be felt, but overall it’s very solid.
With the roof down, buffeting is “well controlled”, while whether the roof is up or down, wind and tyre noise are fairly well suppressed.
BMW is known for offering a range of engines which deliver a blend of performance and economy which few rivals can match. The 2 Series convertible is available with five choices: four petrols and one diesel, and there isn’t a duffer in sight.
The range starts with the 218i; a three-cylinder turbocharged unit pumping out a decent 136hp. It’s quite a characterful unit – under hard acceleration it makes a satisfying thrum, yet it settles down nicely on a cruise. It cracks 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds when combined with the six speed manual gearbox, and returns a claimed 51.4mpg.
Above that, two variants of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol feature – the 220i produces 184hp and the 228i 245hp. These see service all across the BMW range, and combine more than adequate straight-line speed with mid-40s mpg.
The most economical engine, though, is the diesel 220d. With emissions of 116g/km and a combined economy of 64.2mpg, it’ll cost only £30 for annual road tax. Despite the low running costs, the 190hp unit returns a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 140mph. There is a downside, however. It isn’t the smoothest of engines, sounding particularly rough under hard acceleration. Not ideal when a convertible car such as this is all about image.
BMW don’t offer a full-fat M version of 2 Series, though the M235i is hardly lacking in firepower. The 326hp, 3.0-litre turbocharged six cylinder motor enables the convertible to crack the 0-62mph dash in just 5.0 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mpg. Fuel consumption is rated at 35.8mpg – not bad for such a potent car. Testers describe the noise it makes as “spine tingling”, particularly with the roof down.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox is excellent. Not only does it shift smoothly and quickly, but in many cases it’s even more efficient than the manual alternative – the 220d, for example is 4mpg more economical fitted with the 8-speed auto. However, it costs a whopping £1,685, so from a financial point of view it is pretty difficult to justify.
Although Euro NCAP havent specifically tested the 2 Series convertible, the 1 series hatch – with which the 2 Series shares a platform – received a five star rating back in 2012.
Beyond that, the 2 Series contains all of the safety features you’d expect from a premium car. A glut of airbags, automatic headlights, auto cruise control and a sign recognition system all feature. If the car detects that it is about to roll over, a pair of rollover hoops deploy behind the rear seats to protect the occupants. Parking is made simpler by an optional reversing camera, which displays guide lines and colour coded warnings to inform the driver of the car’s extremities.
The 2 Series convertible is equipped with most of the kit that you’d hope for in a car of this type; Bluetooth connectivity, DAB digital radio, air conditioning and 17 inch alloy wheels are all standard across the range. If you’re buying a flashy cabriolet, though, you really need leather seats too, which means on the SE models you’ll have to fork out an extra £1,150. We think that’s not really on for a car of this type. As with so many BMW’s – and indeed most German cars – getting keen with the options list can make the prices rise to slightly silly levels. As with the leather, items like heated seats (£295) are things you would really expect thrown in as standard on a £30,000-plus car.
BMW offer a three year/unlimited mileage warranty with the 2 Series Convertible. For comparison, the Audi A3 convertible features three years of cover, but a 60,000-mile limit on its policy.
The 2 Series Convertible’s biggest rival comes in the form of the Audi A3 Cabriolet. Picking a winner between the two is fairly tough – they’re both stylish inside and out, and offer similar levels of practicality, equipment levels, and cost about the same. In reality, it depends on which qualities you prioritise. If ultimate cabin ambience and refined diesel engines are important to you, then the Audi should get the nod. If you’d prefer a little more driving enjoyment and outright performance, then the BMW is the one to have.