BMW’s new 4-Series could spring a convertible comeback

BMW is hoping its hard-top convertible will herald the return of the good weather – and the good times

Make: BMW

Model: 4-Series

Year: 2014

Fuel: Petrol

Date Reviewed: January 20, 2014

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 06:00

   

The arrival of BMW’s new 4 Series convertible in Ireland this spring should coincide not only with better weather but also a renewed interest in such models, as the muThuisch-rumoured economic recovery starts to take root.

You might not have thought it given the profile of car sales in Ireland over the last six years, but Irish motorists have always harboured a fondness for BMW’s mid-size coupes and convertibles. The 3-Series coupe always found a welcome at the start of the last decade, and the change of name isn’t going to hinder its revival. Unhitching it from the saloon version should help sales.

The latest iteration is a hard-top foldable convertible boasting more room inside than previous 3-Series versions and a larger boot.

BMW staff are adamant that no rag-top was considered for the 4-Series. However, even with all the engineering prowess on display as the three-panel roof flips and folds its way up or down, there’s a feeling that the hydraulics may be a little over-engineered. It also seems to add a hefty excess weight to the car over the regular 4-Series coupe. You can’t help wondering how much more performance – and styling attributes – could have been garnered from swapping metal for modern cloth. The added weight has a bearing on the car’s handling, and even the range-topping 435i is better described as a cruising convertible than an open-topped sports car.


Snug fit
In practical terms the metal roof takes just 20 seconds to open or close, and when open the folded parts fit snugly into the bootspace, while leaving a decent 220 litres. It can be tricky to make full use of this space, but thankfully there’s a new feature that increases the aperture to the bootspace with the click of a button. Golfers will still need to flip down the rear seats to make room for their clubs, but it’s a nod towards greater practicality. There is further good news in that, despite first impressions, there is room for a svelte adult or two in the back seats.

The new convertible looks a lot sleeker than the outgoing 3-Series version, thanks in part to the body being wider and lower than before. Engines start with a 184bhp 420d, which will be the Irish choice. In the petrol ranks there is a 245bhp 2-litre in the 428i guise, along with a range-topping 302bhp 3-litre 435i model. Prices start at €54,240 for the 420d SE, €59,880 for the 428i SE, and a eye-watering €75,270 for the 435i.

While the performance of the 435i is impressive, it frankly doesn’t warrant the hefty surcharge over the likes of the 420d or even the 428i. Both would be wiser buys, particularly given that this version is less about outright punch but rather stylish cruising.

There may be signs that – for a fortunate few – the good times may return, but this time we’re hopefully a bit wiser.

OUR VERDICT

Should revive our love affair with BMW’s mid-sized coupes and convertibles