Based on the BMW F32 4 series, the new convertible bears some resemblance to the E90 3 series convertible, though it presents sharper lines than its predecessor, whilst riding lower and wider, giving the car road presence.
I tested the 420d – the 2 litre diesel engine car with 184 bhp. The engine pulls well and is quiet too considering it is an oil burner. The refinement doesn’t end there…
The silver with black colour scheme of this test car is a little bland, but of course there are all sorts of combinations to choose from. The cabin is a nice place to be, the materials are high quality and although it doesn’t shout, its theme is simple elegance. As you can probably tell, I didn’t get my own photo of the interior of the test car, but you will get the idea from the press photo below.
The test car was fitted with a Head-up Display which emerges from above the clocks which displays your speed digitally. This was very useful whilst on the high speed bowl at Millbrook. Travelling at high speed requires 110% focus on the road which can be a task when glancing down at the speedo. It was therefore easy to drive quickly with the speed clearly visible in my peripheral vision.
Bearing in mind the car is missing the structural rigidity of the 4 Series coupe, the sensation of scuttle shake was not present and it was evident the convertible is comfortable cruising at high speed.
The 2 litre diesel engine has plenty poke and is powered by a twin-scroll turbocharger. This minimises the effects of boost lag and gives a total output of 280 lb ft, which is a fair old whack. Obviously it doesn’t sound too clever – being a four cylinder diesel, but at least its quiet. The six cylinder diesel unit in the 4 series sounds better, but is still pretty quiet – more so than the predecessor.
A six speed manual gearbox is standard on the 4 Series convertible with an eight speed Sport automatic gearbox optional. The test car was fitted with the former and it is pleasing to use. The ratios are well spaced to effectively extract efficient performance from the diesel engine up front.
The Alpine Course at Millbrook Proving Ground gave a thorough impression what the 4 Series convertible would be like to drive cross country – marvellous. In my mind, the 4 Series convertible was designed to feel sumptuous and sporty whilst subtly and stylishly exposing you and your passengers to blue skies and trees above.
Although the 4 Series convertible in SE trim is not strictly a sports model, the chassis dynamics retain BMW’s ethos – The Ultimate Driving Machine. Sport mode helps matters of course. Pressing the sport button instructs the car to hunker down, become more responsive, and tighten up. Although now a harsher ride than in comfort, it provides greater driver confidence at speed knowing that the car is firmly stuck to the road.
If you’re in the market for a well priced four seater convertible, the BMW 4 Series convertible should feature on your list. The engine in the 420d provides plenty power and umph and is respectably quiet and refined for a diesel. The cars with bigger engines will most definitely offer more performance and deliver a more inspiring soundtrack to enjoy with the roof retracted.
Engine Size: 2 litre, in-line four, 16 valve, diesel
Top Speed: 146 mph
Power: 184 bhp
Torque: 280 lb ft
Transmission: six speed manual
Driven Wheels: rear
0-62 mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 55.2
Length: 4,638 mm
Width: 2,017 mm
Height: 1,384 mm
Kerb Weight: 1,755 kg
OTR Price: £36,680
Star Rating: * * * *