£40,600 - £52,995 Price range
39 - 56 MPG
Despite the change in name, the 4 Series Convertible is a direct replacement for the 3 Series Convertible; the even number now signifying those models in BMW’s range with a coupe body. It’s a rival for the Audi A5 Cabriolet.
The 4 Series has a folding metal roof that suppresses noise well (and offers security the Audi’s soft top can’t match) but can drop in just 20 seconds when the opportunity arises.
Unfortunately, the clever roof adds weight that blunts the Convertible’s handling when compared to the more fleet-of-foot Coupe.
In a straight line, the extra heft also makes its presence felt – blunting the performance offered by engines borrowed from the coupe. The 420d diesel still offers a compelling mix of performance and economy but in the Convertible, the more-aurally-pleasing 420i is a better bet. Or give your ears a real treat with the six-cylinder 335i.
The Convertible’s interior is largely the same as in the 4 Series Coupe, which in turn copies the 3 Series saloon. That means you’ll find a well laid out, solidly built cabin, which by cabriolet standards is quite roomy.
One thing to consider from a practical point of view is that the elegant metal folding roof takes up much of the boot volume when folded away, leaving only 220 litres to spare. With the roof up, the boot offers up 370 litres of space, which is a negligible ten litres less than the Audi A5.
Wind buffeting can be a problem, though, with the wind blocker raised, the turbulence is reduced. When it’s fitted, however, it prevents anyone from sitting in the back seats. So, smart hair or more friends, it’s your choice – we’d pick the hair every time!
Of course, chopping the roof off a car will weaken the structure, so BMW has gone to great lengths to make the chassis more rigid. This all adds weight though, and when combined with the workings of the folding roof, the Convertible carries a 295kg penalty over its coupe brother.
As a result, the driving experience feels rather more ponderous, and it creates a car much more suited to cruising than one that enjoys pounding around a racetrack. Despite that, it still out-handles its rivals.
Yet it also has a comfy ride that makes the Convertible a com
The 420d’s 181hp 2.0-litre diesel sits at the bottom of the range, followed by the turbo 2.0-litre petrols in the 420 and 430i, while the range is rounded off by a 3.0-litre turbo petrol. This top 440i model produces 326hp, and can hit 62mph from a standstill in 5.2 seconds.
BMW’s latest range of engines are all very efficient, and claimed economy figures of 55.4mpg for the 420d certainly seem to verify this. Unfortunately the engine sounds very rattly by modern diesel standards, which hardly fits in with the laid-back vibe of an open-top car.
Each engine is available with a smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, which delivers near-identical performance figures to manual equivalents while offering marginally improved fuel economy figures.
The 4 Series Convertible comes well-equipped with six airbags as standard.
You’ll also find the anti-lock brakes and stability controls combined with more advanced features like a lane-departure warning system and an anti-fatigue warning, which senses the driver’s alertness and recommends breaks if it thinks you’re drowsy.
The saloon variant, the 3 Series, received five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and it is a safe bet the 4 Series could score very similarly.
At this point, a buyer must consider how highly they value the pleasure of open-top motoring. That’s because the Convertible carries a substantial premium of between £4,000 and £6,000 over the 4 Series coupe. For many people, the added style will be worth it, and many will prefer the slightly more relaxed driving experience, too.
From a subjective point of view, the 4 Series Convertible is not as accomplished as the coupe on which it is based. The less rigid chassis combined with the added weight has resulted in a car which is both slower and less fun to drive.
However, driving thrills aren’t really the point of a car like this, and the BMW does some things very well. It’s refined, well-built and stylish, and is still at least as capable as rivals from Audi and Mercedes from behind the wheel.
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