2014 BMW 435i Convertible Review
BMW’s Open Air Baby Grand Tourer
True confessions of the AutoGuide staff: we were disappointed with the 4 Series coupe after a first drive.
|1. The 435i has a 3.0L turbo inline-six producing 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque.
2. A six-speed manual is standard while an eight-speed automatic is optional.
3. Pricing for the 435i begins at $55,825 after destination charges.
4. The roof takes 20 seconds to lower and can operate while driving up to 11 mph.
Sure it has a great engine, solid chassis and decent dynamics, but it lacks the engagement and special feeling of older 3 Series coupes. A lot of this can be chalked up to the fact the 4 Series Coupe has grown exponentially and is now more a mid-size coupe than the compact it once was.
But after driving the new 2 Series, everything makes sense. It is now the compact sports coupe from BMW. With power and size mimicking that of the 2000-2006 E46 3 Series coupes, the 2014 228i is the answer for those longing for a modern 330Ci while the M235i should please early 21st century M3 fanatics.
The Baby Grand Tourer
This allows the 4 Series to slot in as a baby “grand touring” car now for those who want as much luxury, style and comfort as they do performance. And nothing screams GT cruiser more than a hard top convertible.
Available starting in March, the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible will join the coupe in BMW’s every expanding lineup. The new 4 Series is longer, wider and features a more aggressive stance thanks to a wider track front and rear. BMW developed the 4 Series convertible alongside the coupe right from the start so special attention was given to ensure the drop top is structurally strong. BMW claims it has a 40 percent stiffer body then the outgoing 3 series convertible and you can feel it immediately on the road. Our 435i test vehicle exhibited minimal, if any cowl shake and felt like a solid piece of metal. Top down, driving over dips, crests and broken roads never upset the chassis or body.
A Convertible Without Compromises
The roof takes 20 seconds to lower and can be operated at speeds up to 11 mph. With the top down, wind noise and buffeting is minimal, especially when the optional rear seat wind deflector is in place. It’s amazing how far modern convertibles have come in this regard. There is virtually no penalty anymore during top down driving aside from the temperature.
But even that is becoming a thing of the past. For the first time on a BMW, a neck warming fan has been integrated in the top of the front seats similar to Mercedes-Benz’ air scarf. The safety belts have also been integrated into the seats to keep them taut and free from blowing in the breeze. The seats themselves are rather comfortable and sightlines with the top up or down are terrific thanks to the three-piece metal roof having a large rear window. Other highlights up front include a terrific sounding audio system, head-up display and BMW’s latest iteration of iDrive.
SEE ALSO: 2014 BMW 4 Series Review
Compared to the 3 Series drop-top, the 4 Series fits adults better in the rear seats thanks to 33.1 inches of rear legroom. Headroom however is still a bit lacking when the roof is in place. Trunk space has also increased to 13.1 cubic feet with the roof up and shrinks down to 7.8 cubic feet when the cleverly packaged hard top is stowed. Since most of the storage area lies under the folded top, BMW has built in a power lift feature that will raise the trunk lid and roof high up in the air, allowing larger items to be stowed under it. Adding even more cargo flexible, the backseats can be folded down and feature a pass through, both of which can be used even when the roof is stowed.
Classy but Heavy
On the outside, the 4 Series convertible is similar in appearance than the coupe except for a somewhat broken up look from the three-piece hardtop. The overall profile of the convertible doesn't flow as well coupe does, but the top does feature the classic BMW Hofmeister kink. Up front, there are full LED headlights and BMW’s air curtains, which is a feature spreading across the BMW lineup.
The 4 Series is 44 lbs. lighter than the old 3 Series convertible, but don’t read too much into that as the 435i still weights a portly 4,095 lbs. Everywhere the car is driven, the weight can be felt despite boasting a favorable weight balance that is actual 52 percent biased to the rear. The car can handle aggressive cornering, but prefers to be driven swiftly rather than frantically. It follows the trend of being more of a high powered cruiser, a path many German cars seem to be following lately. Think of it as bridging the gap between the luxurious Mercedes-Benz E 350 Cabriolet and the sporty Audi S5 cabriolet.
Silky Turbo Power
Powering the 4 Series convertible is a choice of turbocharged engines. A 2.0-liter four cylinder making 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque does duty in the 428i, while a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-6 producing 302 hp and 295 lb-ft is fitted to the 435i. Even with over 4,000 lbs. of mass to motivate, BMW claims the 4 Series can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds. A six-speed manual transmission can be had with either engine, while an eight-speed automatic is optional. During a 130-mile trip in a 435i with the eight speed automatic, we averaged a decent 25.1 mpg.
Base 428i models will start at $49,675 after destination charges while the more powerful 435i begins at $55,825. Either engine can be had in one of three trim levels - modern, luxury or sport.
It is rare that we enjoy a convertible more than its coupe counterpart, but that’s the case here. It’s a proper four-passenger convertible lacking many of the usual drop-top drawbacks like cowl shake, wind buffeting, impracticality and fair-weather fragility. The 4 Series can still be a lot of fun to drive, but it isn’t a raw sporty coupe. It is car more at home cruising mountain roads in the fresh summer air than attacking an apex at the local racetrack. As much as it pains me to say it, this is what most consumers are looking for, and that should bode well for BMW and 4 Series sales.