2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible First Drive Review

15 Jan 2016 Car Reviews

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2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible First Drive Review

Beamer's compact soft-top grows into a more mature and even more technically proficient take on the compact convertible. Drivetrain is a delight.

So, what is it?

BMW likes to call ‘M’ the most powerful letter in the world, but in their range, it’s the number 2 that’s arguably developed the most moxie. The lovely, RWD 2 Series, currently lead by the M235i – at least until the M2 arrives – is a smaller, sweetly balanced alternative to brasher, larger Beamers. The 3-, 4- and 5- all bring assorted baggage to the table, weighed by their own image and tradition. The premium compact 2 Series just gets on with the very useable fun. And what’s more ‘fun’ than a convertible, eh? A monkey in a fez, and rollercoasters. That’s all.

BMW 220i Convertible

Why should I care?

Because the hardtop M4 Convertible added too much weight to the base car, and this cloth-capped junior sibling doesn’t.

What’s new about it?

It’s grown compared to its forerunner, the BMW 1 Series convertible: 72mm longer, 26mm wider, and with its wheelbase stretched by 30mm. Mostly, though, it looks larger thanks to the sort of visual design trickery that Block couples apply to poky rooms, or manscaping applies to a hen’s-night stripper, with clean lines drawing the eye out to its flat shoulders. Also, it’s very hushed with the roof up – which you raise or lower in just 20 seconds at up to 50km/h; a 10-second, 10km/h improvement. That quiet is thanks to a lasagne-like five layers clever in-roof sandwiching. “You can be going 180km/h and have a phone conversation very easily,” one of the designers told us. “Er, zis probably only applies in Germany.”

BMW 220i Side

That’s all fine. What’s it like to drive fast?

Unflappable. Its tortional rigidity is up by 20 per cent on the car it replaces, and bending strength greater by a tenth, mostly due to reinforcements in the rockers and cross-braces in the front and rear. The 2.0L in-line four engine is good for 180kW, but more importantly, the 350Nm arriving from just 1250rpm – channelled at launch via an insanely buttery, optional eight-cog auto – is a lovely, balanced package. Variable sport steering is typically, Bavarianly precise.

And driving from home to the office in the city?

Capable over any choppiness, with a useful two-golf bag boot (335L that drops to 280L with the top open). Although it’s still kinda noisy without the raiseable wind-blocker up, a thing which precludes putting anyone in the back, unless you despise them.

BMW 220i Convertible interior

Is there anything bad about it?

Not particularly; it minimises most of the dynamic drawbacks inherent in top-down motoring (lost rigidity, hairdresser accusations), but you can’t do much about errant bird deposits. Although the $85,800 M235i, with its 3.0L straight six, will be a superior attack beast, if that’s your remit.

How much would I have to pay for one? And is it worth the coin?

$68,900. Yes. And the 220i entry level soft-top, starting at $54,900, is tempting too. But this is a nicely rounded package.

Would you take the 228i Convertible or an Audi A3 Cabrio, then?

Ingolstadt’s AWD has its admirers, and rightly so, but the 228i Convertible’s rear-wheeled, simple sports car charms add personality. And the BMW looks better, too.

Click here to find out more about the BMW 2 Series Convertible.