From £29,7006
New range-topping convertible might pack a 302bhp turbocharged engine, but it lacks the dynamism you might expect and feels underwhelming

Our Verdict

BMW 4 Series

The facelifted BMW 4 Series has improved on an already solid proposition but can it hold off the likes of the latest generation Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé?

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Mark Tisshaw
1 August 2014

What is it?

This is our first go in BMW’s range-topping 4-series convertible on UK roads.

To recap, the 4-series is the new name for the 3-series coupe and convertible models. This side of an M4, the 435i is the most potent model offered, powered by the familiar turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine from the 335i.

Our test car is in the also familiar and popular M Sport trim, which brings with it the usual range of cosmetic and mechanical upgrades, a body kit, 18-inch alloys (19-inch alloys are optional), sports seats, new badges, and stiffer suspension.

What's it like?

Given how excellent the 3-series and 4-series coupé are to drive, you’d expect similar from the 4-series convertible, particularly in its most sporting flavour. The reality is somewhat different.

It’s a good car for wafting around in, enjoying the summer sunshine with the roof down. For the interior looks great, feels great and is a doddle to use, and the exterior design – with the roof down at least – is classy. Many heads will turn when a 4-series convertible passes. 

But try and drive the 435i convertible with any kind of enthusiasm and you’ll be left underwhelmed. The steering lacks any real feel and feels very vague around the straight-ahead, trying to hide the fact that this is a heavy car with not the stiffest chassis in the world, but not doing a very good job of it.

The ride is decent, but lacks the suppleness of other 3-series models, and does deteriorate over more broken surfaces with the roof down, particularly about town. There’s little verve to the handling either, and nothing encouraging you to push harder in search of a smile. 

Another mixed bag is the engine, which is fabulously smooth and refined, but never feels as brisk as the headline figures suggest. 

Should I buy one?

The 435i convertible M Sport is a stylish, comfortable choice, but certainly not a sporting or engaging one. A pity, as you’d expect a fair bit more dynamic sparkle from a BMW, particularly in this flavour. 

BMW 435i convertible M Sport

Price £46,890 0-62mph 5.5sec Top speed 155mph Economy 36.7mpg (combined) CO2 180g/km Kerb weight 1825kg Engine 6cyls, 2979cc, turbocharged, petrol Power 302bhp at 5800-6000rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1200-5000rpm Gearbox 8-speed automatic

Join the debate

Comments
7

1 August 2014
Whats this, another poor BMW, ultimate driving machine ;)

1 August 2014
....the pick of the 4-series convertible range will be the cheapest one, then. Mark doesn't mention it, but I wonder if this is the first 3 or 4 series Autocar has driven without the expensive optional suspension and steering?

1 August 2014
...is a 4 star car, what did you expect?
It's an interesting point though, regarding the options.
I thought very carefully about what boxes to tick on mine and it's a shame that the BMW dealerships don't appear to be able to offer much advice. The adaptive suspension was arguably the best 1% I spent on my car. I also wonder if these manufacturers are now tuning their chassis to hit the spot with the weight of a 2 litre lump up front and then compromising the 3s. Certainly, the 320d sDrive I tried against my 335d xDrive came with the same size tyres, much less weight and boy did it feel it. The 3 series is now a £50k car you can easily ruin by un-ticking the wrong boxes.

1 August 2014
Some folks like to take a pop at Audi for making cars with steering and handling which don't set the pants on fire, perhaps forgetting that BMW seem to have made a few in recent times. I know the scores generally run in BMW's favour but both are sometimes guilty of courting the Boulevardier over the boy racer.

1 August 2014
Add some options, some passengers and this thing will be over 2 tonnes. If they do an X-drive version I bet it makes a Disco look slim by comparison. Diesel Disco probably does better mpg.

3 August 2014
Another under developed poorly driving BMW convertible. Just like the Z4. Is because BMW engineers have been told to work on bloated SUVs and rubbish FWD vans with windows? Could be.

13 August 2014
Really strange review - why would you compare a convertible to a coupe or sedan - completely different cars really. If you want a light dynamic handling car buy a coupe, if you want a more practical car buy a sedan, if you want open air motoring above all else you buy a convertible. It really comes down to the buyers preference. Would be far better if there was a comparison to the audi convertible, lexus etc.

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