BMW 4 Series Convertible: Review


For those familiar with the 4 Series Convertible's predecessor, the E93 3 Series Convertible, the important figure to note is the 40 per cent increase in torsional rigidity of the new model over the old. Weight has also been reduced by up to 20kg model-for-model, despite the new iteration being a little bigger in all dimensions. Compared to the last of the 3 Series Convertibles this new model also has a longer wheelbase, a wider track front and rear and shorter overhangs, too.

4 Series Convertible: what goes up...
4 Series Convertible: what goes up...
That should all be very promising because the outgoing model was, for a four-seat convertible at least, a pretty good steer. The evidence points to this new model being even better, then.

BMW lists dynamics as one of its three priorities for the 4 Series Convertible, along with efficiency and functionality. To that end this model has bespoke suspension tuning and a lower centre of gravity compared to the current 3 Series saloon, along with the signature 50:50 weight distribution.

Wobble board
There are a couple of points that will check our early enthusiasm, though. 40 per cent increase in rigidity or not it remains true that slicing a third out of a contained structure will diminish its integrity, and past experience of our own 435i coupe long termer has proven that even the fixed-head version falls some way short of being an electrifying drive.

...can also come down (but not over 18km/h)
...can also come down (but not over 18km/h)
The folding metal roof has been improved to better keep wind noise and the elements at bay, and it can be retracted in 20 seconds at up to 18km/h. That looks reasonable on paper, but in practice it feels little quicker than a brisk walk. Best make sure you do have 20 seconds to hand before dropping the roof at the lights.

The 4 Series Convertible will be available with three engines at launch; a four-cylinder diesel, a four-cylinder petrol and a six-cylinder petrol, all turbocharged. It's the range-topping 435i that we drive here, complete with eight-speed automatic gearbox.

What stands out first is the quality of the cabin, shortly followed by the drivetrain, which is perfectly suited to a car of this nature. The gearbox shifts quickly and cleanly while the engine pulls effortlessly from all points in the rev range. There's just enough six-pot snarl under hard acceleration, too, without it being unrefined or intrusive.

Roof down you'll be able to show off the best bit
Roof down you'll be able to show off the best bit
Silky
With the roof in place there's no real evidence that it folds away, so well contained is wind noise. What's less impressive, though, is the ride quality, which on anything other than the very smoothest surfaces is never better than fidgety. The steering, meanwhile, is accurate enough, but never communicates anything of value back to the driver.

As long as the road surface allows, the Sport mode is best selected when the driver does want to start hustling. This adds weight to the steering, which does little to improve it, and firms the suspension up a touch. As the road begins to twist and turn and the driver commits harder to corners, there is a slight but definite sense that some rigidity has been lost compared to the coupe. There isn't any scuttle shake and nor is there any unwelcome vibration in the steering column, but it's clear that the suspension tuning has been compromised and there is, as a result, a degree of imprecision at turn-in and a lack of agility in rapid direction changes. A notch or two back from maximum attack, though, the 4 Series Convertible does carry plenty of speed along a challenging road with enough composure to encourage the driver to continue at such a pace.

Does the job but you can fill in the blanks...
Does the job but you can fill in the blanks...
For the role this car is intended to fulfill, it's only the slightly firm ride on the kind of surface that makes up most of our road network that deserves any criticism. That aside, and particularly with this drivetrain, the 4 Series Convertible is a highly accomplished four-seat drop-top.

 

 

 

 



BMW 435i Convertible
Engine:
2,979cc 6-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 306hp@5800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295lb ft@1,200-5,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.5sec
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,825kg
MPG: 37.7mpg (claimed)
CO2: 176g/km
Price: £44,970

 

 

 

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Comments (84) Join the discussion on the forum

  • RoverP6B 18 Feb 2014

    I'd rather have an E92 330i, thanks. An overweight folding-hardtop convertible strikes me as being a car more for posing in than a serious driver's car.

  • AudiWurst 18 Feb 2014

    RoverP6B said:
    I'd rather have an E92 330i, thanks. An overweight folding-hardtop convertible strikes me as being a car more for posing in than a serious driver's car.
    Presume you're aware the E9x was a folding hardtop as well??

    Article also says that the new 4-series is 20kg lighter model for model than the outgoing E9x.

    Edited by AudiWurst on Tuesday 18th February 09:32

  • RoverP6B 18 Feb 2014

    AudiWurst said:
    Presume you're aware the E9x was a folding hardtop as well??
    The E92 was a fixed-head coupe. The E93 was the wobbly poser's blancmange.

  • James1972 18 Feb 2014

    Bling optional 20" wheels partly to blame for the ride ?rolleyes

  • Bungleaio 18 Feb 2014

    RoverP6B said:
    The E92 was a fixed-head coupe. The E93 was the wobbly poser's blancmange.
    As an owner of an E93 I would say it is far from wobbly, yes occasionally there is some vibration but it's not often.

    For me a folding hard top convertible is the best of both worlds and mostly people that I've had in it (that aren't really into cars) have no idea that the roof can go in the boot. I've covered a good few miles in mine in the past year both roof up and down and it's a great car, personally I can't see me changing cars for a good few years, the cost of the 4 series is far to high to justify the change at the moment plus I'm loving the NA straight six, an option that I doubt will be available in the 4

    I'm not going to get into a convertibles are for posers argument, you either get it or you don't.

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