The rear seat backrest can be folded using a lever in the luggage compartment. The rear can be specified with a load-through hatch that is much bigger than the one featured on the 1 Series, at 450mm wide by 246mm high.
Unlike the larger 4 Series convertible, which has a retractable hard-top, the new 2-series has fabric roof. As well as saving weight and cost on a car that is sold at a lower price point, it is more practical on the smaller car, because the metal roof and its operating mechanism requires more width than the rag-top and accommodating it could compromise the design appeal of the car.
The roof automatically opens and closes in 20 seconds at the push of a switch on the centre console, at speeds of up to 30mph. The roof’s folding mechanism has been carried over from the 1 Series, but a four-layer fabric top is new and features additional insulation and greater acoustic comfort. This has resulted in a reduction of interior noise by five decibels for front seat passengers and 7 decibels in the rear.
The 2 Series convertible weighs about 150kg more than the equivalent coupé model due to the roof mechanism and the extra chassis reinforcement in the side panels. Torsional rigidity of the body is said to be approximately 20 per cent stiffer than the 1 Series convertible.
Four engine variants will be offered, all of which are more powerful yet on average 18 per cent more frugal than the units offered in the 1 Series convertible.
The £37,710 BMW M235i convertible is the halo model in the range. Powered by a 2979cc inline six-cylinder TwinPower turbo engine, the car produces 322bhp at 5800-6000rpm and 332lb ft between 1300-4500rpm.
When equipped with the standard six-speed manual gearbox, the M235i convertible can sprint from a standstill to 62mph in 5.2sec – just 0.2sec slower than the Coupe – and hit a top speed of 155mph.
By comparison, the M235i coupé is capable of 0-62mph in 5sec. Fuel economy on the combined cycle is a claimed 33.2mpg and CO2 emissions are put at 199g/km.
Two other petrol variants are offered, both using the 1997cc inline TwinPower turbo four-pot in differing states of tune.
The £29,180 220i convertible produces 181bhp at 5000-6250rpm and 199lb ft at 1250-4000rpm. It can cover 0-62mph in 7.5sec and has a top speed of 143mph. This variant offers claimed fuel economy of 43.4mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 151g/km.
The 228i convertible, which costs £31,550, has 242bhp at 5000-6500rpm and 258lb ft at 1250-4800rpm. Its 0-62mph time is 6.1sec and its top speed is 155mph. BMW’s figures put fuel economy at 41.5mpg combined and CO2 emissions at 159g/km.
The sole oilburner in the range is the 220d, which is powered by a new four-cylinder turbodiesel that has also been installed in the BMW 2-series Active Tourer and latest Mini. The 1995cc unit develops maximum power of 187bhp at 4000rpm and 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm. This particular version costs £29,965.
When this engine is mated to the six-speed manual gearbox and the car is equipped with standard-fit 16-inch wheels and tyres, BMW claims a combined fuel economy of 64.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 116g/km; the optional eight-speed automatic improves that figure to 68.8mpg and 108g/km.
The standard-fit gearbox is a six-speed manual, while an eight-speed automatic with Steptronic is offered as an option. Equipped with a coasting function, the transmission provides better fuel economy across the range than the manual.
Also available is a Steptronic sport transmission that offers even quicker gearshifts, a launch control function and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Expect to pay a premium of around £1500 for the Steptronic, or £1650 for the Steptronic sport.
BMW’s switchable driver mode system, Driving Experience Control, is standard on all variants. The 218i, 220i and 220d offers three driving modes – Comfort, Sport and fuel-efficient Eco Pro – whereas the M235i adds Sport+.
Sport+ is also added to any model fitted with the any of the following: Steptronic sport transmission, M Sport package, BMW Sport Line trim, Adaptive M Suspension or variable sport steering.
The cabin is very similar to that found in the 2-series coupé, albeit with some upgraded materials such as the high-gloss black surfaces on the centre console and the chrome accents surrounding the air vents.
Available for the first time on a BMW is free-of-charge wireless updating of navigation data via an in-built SIM card. The system – available on cars fitted with the optional Professional navigation system – updates itself several times a year whenever new map data becomes available, with no licence fees or data transfer charges for the car’s owner.
Three choices of roof colour are available: the standard one is black, but two optional colours, anthracite and brown, are both interwoven with a silver thread which generates a reflective appearance under lights.
The drop-top has a ‘convertible’ mode on the automatic climate control. When the roof is open, it takes account of the speed at which the car is travelling and adjusts the intensity of the cooling or heating effect to maintain its effectiveness.
Another option specific to the convertible is a wind deflector that can be set up in the rear of the car. Optional leather trim is treated with SunReflective technology, which uses special colour pigments to significantly reduce the degree to which the leather is heated by the sun’s rays.
BMW chiefs are confident that the 2-series convertible can surpass the 130,000 sales achieved by the outgoing 1-series convertible. The most significant markets for the new model will be the USA, UK and Germany.
Q&A with Domagoj Dukec, BMW head of exterior design
How does the design of the 2-series convertible differ from the 1-series convertible?
The previous car was very nice, but there were still some lines from the previous design philosophy and they were a little bit more polarising. With the 2-series convertible, we’ve tried to create a car more linked to BMW traditions of the past. For example, the horizontal feature line that runs all the way around the car is a typical BMW feature that wasn’t on the 1-series. It is reminiscent of the BMW 2002.
Why does the 2-series convertible utilise a soft-top when the 4-series convertible has a hard retractable roof?
A hard-top is wider and cannot fold so well. We do it on the 4-series because the car is wide enough so the shutlines are not disturbed. Personally, I have always liked soft-tops. They give you differentiation in the colours and textures.
What design techniques did you use to give this car a sophisticated feel?
All of the qualities of the 2-series – such as rear-wheel drive and the proportions, thanks to the short overhangs – are unique in this market segment in the sense that normally you would have to go to more sporty cars to find these. The design is more mature. We changed the front end dramatically, with slimmer headlamps and a more dynamic kidney grille.
Read the BMW 2 Series review
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