Spring may be in the air. Should your hair be too, in BMW’s open-top 4 Series?
Summer’s on the way, so they say, so it must be time to think about buying a convertible car.
It’s easy to confuse BMW’s 4 Series Convertible with the fixed-roof Coupé. Put that down to the folding metal roof, which is good for reducing noise but not so good in terms of the extra weight.
Luckily, any of the three petrol or three diesel engines combined with a manual or automatic gearbox and two or four-wheel drive will easily handle the burden. With four different trim levels on offer, there should be a 4 Series Convertible somewhere for anyone, but you should also consider Mercedes’ C-Class and Audi’s recently launched open-top A5.
Those 4 Series petrol-engined models are the 181bhp 420i four-cylinder and the 249bhp 430i and 321bhp 440i six-cylinders. Cylinder-wise, the diesel options are the same: a four-cylinder 187bhp 420d alongside a six-cylinder 254bhp 430d and a 309bhp 435d. That 435d has to come with xDrive four-wheel drive: there’s no 2WD model. Of these, our choice for mixed urban and motorway use would be the torquey 420d.
Although the 4 Series Convertible has positive steering, its near-1800kg weight weight counts against it in fast direction changes. It’s hard to fault the comfort though. Even in firm M Sport spec the suspension works well, and there’s minimal body wobble on bumpy roads. Noise levels are low with the roof up, with normal levels of buffeting when it’s down, and the six-cylinder petrol versions are very smooth.
Inside you get the usual functional if not exactly super-modern BMW dashboard and user-friendly iDrive infotainment system. Electric front seat adjustment is provided free on every 4 Series Convertible, so there’s no problem finding a good driving position. Adults won’t be hugely comfortable in the back but the cabin ambience, from the switches you press to the surfaces you touch, will feel ‘premium’.
The 370-litre boot will handle the weekly shop, but you’ll need to think carefully about what to buy if you want to do that shopping with the roof down, as the space is considerably reduced. A standard ski hatch in the back seats is a nice convenience, but you have to pay extra for split-fold function, which seems a bit mean.
Overall, the 4 Series Convertible is comfortable and smooth, but it’s not the best in class. If you can’t resist its good looks, what’s the one to get? All versions do well on depreciation, but whichever 4 Series Convertible you go for, it won’t be cheap. The petrol versions will cost you a lot in fuel and company car tax, so the 420d makes sense by being both relatively affordable to buy and to run thanks to its decent CO2 emissions.
For this model, SE is the entry-level trim and it’s the one we’d go for as it includes leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, xenon headlights and a 6.5-inch colour display. If you want 18-inch alloys, sports seats and a different look to the cabin, Sport trim gives you that. A better infotainment system is part of the Luxury package, while the range-topping M Sport has a bodykit, model-specific suspension and sportier seats.
As a marque, BMW has finished near to the bottom of the JD Power manufacturers’ reliability listings. More positively, every 4 Series Convertible gets a comprehensive airbag system and pop-up crash protection hoops. The car has received a five-star maximum score from Thatcham for theft resistance and four out of five for break-in resistance.