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The Top Gear car review:BMW 4 Series Convertible
For:Roof-up refinement, tidy handling
Against:In light colours, the cut lines in the roof are a trifle obvious
420d SE 2dr
Satisfying cruiser rather than ultimate driving machine, so this big engine misses the point. Year-round proposition.
The replacement for the old 3-Series convertible has arrived. Paul Horrell goes for a drive
What we say:
New name, same old formula. Still, four-seat cabrios don't get much better than this
What is it?
The car formerly known as the 3-Series Convertible. In 2013, BMW rebranded its two-door C-Class coupe rival as 4-Series, and now the similarly two-door’d convertible has followed suit. Like its predecessor, the 4-Series uses a three-piece folding hard-top instead of a simpler though less secure fabric roof. That’s bad news for weight – the 4-Series convertible tips the scale a couple of hundred kilos heavier than its equivalent coupe – but good news for raised-roof refinement, rigidity and a lighter, brighter cabin. Usual comprehensive range of engines, driving either rear or all four wheels.
Roof-up, the convertible 4 drives very much like its hard-top coupe cousins – which is to say very tidily indeed – albeit one with a very slight weave as it goes into a corner and the extra high-mounted rearward weight settles itself. Roof down, you’ll feel a little more body wobble, and a slight further degradation in the steering crispness. Not severe, just a little woozy, as if it’s just woken up from taking a nap. But that’s only in comparison to the 4 coupe: by cabrio standards, though, this car is more than tidy enough. More important is the 4’s open-air refinement: with the rear wind-blocker in place and the windows up, there’s remarkably little turbulence, while hairdryer-type neck-warmers in the seat keep your nape cosy.
The M4 Convertible was a later addition and is almost as good as the Coupe. It’s almost as quick, with added drama from being able to hear the exhaust not much more clearly with the roof down. In our book, that makes it very good indeed, then.
On the inside
The cabin is as we’ve come to expect from BMW’s 3- and 4-Series family – short on jazz-hands flair but high on ergonomic simplicity – but with the welcome addition of a whole lot of sky.
Lowering the roof takes 20 electrically powered seconds, as the metal lid separates into many fragments and makes its stately way bootwards on a series of delicate cantilevers. Those roof sections consume pretty much the entire bootspace: if you’re planning a long trip roof-down, better make sure at least one of the rear seats is left free for luggage.
BMW still leads the field when it comes to giving maximum punch for minimum fuel consumption, particularly with its diesels. The delicious petrol-powered 440i will hurt your wallet rather more, but it’s punishment we’d be delighted to take. Same for the M4, although it’s impressively efficient given its power. The 435d is an interesting alternative, mind: it has strong power plus the enhanced traction of xDrive four-wheel drive to dish out 465 torques. Mind you, it’s also nearly £50,000.
The 3-Series always retained impressive residual values – particularly those diesels – and there’s no reason to suspect the 4 should be any different. Careful on the optional extras, though.
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