BMW

4 Series

7

10

Model

428i Convertible

Price

$97,500

The Numbers

1997cc 4cyl, turbo, RWD, 180kW, 350Nm, 6.7L/100km, 0-100km/h in 6.4secs, 250km/h, 1775kg

The Topgear Verdict

The 4 Series convertible is good looking and a great drive, but it’s a bit heavy and struggles when pressed.

2014 BMW 428i convertible

What is it?

It’s what you’ve always thought of as the BMW 3 Series Convertible, but it’s now called the 4 Series Convertible.

How much is it? And is it worth the coin?

The price of entry for the 4 Series Convertible is $88,000 for the 420d, but there is a catch. It’s a diesel, which means getting one’s hands dirty on greasy bowser gun handles. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (135kW and 380Nm) does enough for to keep up with traffic (it takes 8.2sec to get to 100km/h) and it’s very efficient. Still, hearing diesel clatter, no matter how mild, when you are driving with the roof down, is just a little bit too strange.

At the other end of the 4 Series range is the 435i Convertible, which costs a fair chunk at $126,600. It will be the fastest roof-down 4 Series until the M4 version comes to town and gives it a good paddling. The single turbo 3.0-litre six is good for 225kW and 400Nm, which means a 0-100km/h sprint of 5.5 seconds. It would be faster if the convertible hadn’t broken into the pie cupboard and put on so much weight. Extra reinforcement for the body and all the whirry bits that fold and unfold the metal roof have added all of 220kg. At 1775kg, the 4 Series Convertible is a big beefer and you do notice the extra bulk when you start to drive it quickly. It’s never going to be a super sharp sportscar.

That’s why the less powerful, but considerably less expensive 428i Convertible shapes as the best of the bunch. First off, it costs significantly less as $97,500. It doesn’t have a six-cylinder, there is a turbo 2.0-litre four under the bonnet, but its four pistons of fury work hard enough to generate a completely acceptable 180kW and 350Nm. It shovels enough force to the rear wheels to do the 0-100km/h dash in 6.4 seconds, which is not supersonic but still qualifies as sporty and is only 0.9 seconds slower than the 435i.

If you believe the official fuel economy figure, the 428i only uses 6.7L/100km. However, I’m tipping that even customers with turnips for brains would realize this figure is as creative as my expense claims (here’s a tip – put it under ‘client entertainment’).  

What’s it like to drive fast?

An eight-speed automatic works away behind the engine, changing gears with the greatest of ease. It’s a traditional torque convertor auto, no dual clutch shenanigans here, and is lovely. Shift gears when getting up it and you are rewarded with a sweet ‘thrump’ sound on each gear change. The exhaust note has traces of meat when the roof is in up and the soundtrack gets sweeter when it is down.

This thing is rather civilized with the roof down, I didn’t have any problem with my hair being blown around, partly because I am bald, but I think hairy people would also be fine.

Now, some four-door convertibles judder and wobble and carry on, but the body of the 4 Series Convertible is as solid as a Dwayne Johnson.

It also drives well up to a point. Although the steering is a bit vague, you can really enjoy a spritely drive. Start pushing harder and the weight starts to take its toll. The suspension goes on strike and the handling degenerates, it leans and bumps and bounces before just flat-out declining to go where you want it to go.

What about to cruise the boulevard in?

It has four seats, all with Trump-like headroom. Offering some form of practicality, the rear seats even fold down, so you can grab some 6x4 at Bunnings whenever you’re feeling handy.

The 428i comes with a reasonable amount of standard gear, but you might also be tempted by the inevitably long list of options.

The $700 Air Collar function breathes hot air on your neck like someone in the queue at Centrelink, except it doesn’t smell bad. It is better than it sounds, especially on a cold day…and the Air Collar feature is good too.

Would you take this or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet?

This. The E-Class is almost $10,000 more, and not in any way bad, but not as good to drive.

Driven: May 01, 2014