What is it?
The new BMW 4-series convertible, seen here in range-topping 435i form.
See one of these parked roof-down in the sun and it’s easy to conclude that this car has style, class and elegance in quiet abundance. What it doesn’t have is the power to surprise, though, as this car is a predictable if worthwhile advance on its predecessor.
A 40 per cent torsional rigidity increase, 20kgs-worth of weight-paring, a 50mm wheelbase stretch and a lightly fettled engine range are the key improvements over the outgoing 3-series convertible, and heightened connectivity, too. Modest gains then, but the 4-series ought to provide a strong base for this metamorphosis.
What's it like?
The good news first. This car is a comfortable, restful roof-down experience. With wind-blocker and side windows up, its straight-six engine propels you to cruising speed swiftly enough, even if its fizz seems flatter than the 302bhp on offer implies. Blame its heft and, more positively, excellent driveline refinement for that.
The bigger cockpit provides ample room up front and adequate but firmly upholstered, rather upright seats in the rear. Conveniences include behind-backrest stowage for the wind-blocker, and a pushbutton facility for lifting the folded roof on its faintly quaking frame, which (slightly) eases access to 220 litres of roof-down boot space. There are gusting neck-warmers too, and a very effective noise-quelling headliner.
Steering is the 435i’s big trouble, however. Roof up or down, this BMW always feels like it’s burdened with a mildly destabilising load. There’s a faint waywardness at work, and the BMW's steering remains vague until you’ve turned decisively into a bend. Between them, these flaws are frustrating to say the least.
Should I buy one?
BMW will have wanted to give the 4-series convertible just as much dynamic polish as the coupé. Unfortunately, the result falls wide of the mark. Steering and roof-down body shimmy flaws on their own might not be big problems, but together they add up to turn this into a slightly disappointing sports convertible, despite its stylish advantages.