BMW’s all-new 4 Series Convertible had a tough task – replacing the much-loved open-top 3 Series. But just looking at the newcomer is enough to convince even the harshest skeptics the beautifully-styled 4 Series has what it takes.
The extra dimensions (longer and wider), more standard equipment and BMW’s usual styling genius combine to deliver a prestige German convertible of the highest standard. And the all-new chassis - longer and wider - is part of the reason why the all-new BMW 4 Series’ sporty driving dynamics are a cut above the superseded 3 Series…great as it was.
BMW 428i Convertible Overview
BMW Australia launched the 4 Series Convertible in three models – entry-level 420d, mid-grade 428i and range-topping 435i. CarShowroom.com.au has just spent a week in the BMW 428i which is priced at $97,500 (entry-grade 420d is stickered at $88,800 and the 435i will set you back $69,500).
Our test car was the ‘Sport Line’ model which brings high-gloss black exterior trim highlights (front bumpers, grille, B-pillars and window surrounds) a sport leather-wrapped steering wheel plus high-gloss black/pearl grey interior trim highlights.
BMW 428i Convertible Engine
The 428i employs BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine with 180kW of power at 5000rpm and peak torque of 350Nm from 1250rpm – 4800rpm. Fuel consumption is rated at 6.7l/100kms.
Drive is to the rear wheels via BMW’s slick eight-speed automatic transmission.
Zero to 100km/h takes 6.4 seconds – which is a fair bit faster than the Mercedes-Benz C250 (7.2 seconds) or the E250 (7.1 seconds).
BMW 428i Convertible The Interior
Like the Coupe model, the BMW 4 Series Convertible is all-new inside. The sports front seats are a new design and come with adjustable under-thigh support and integrated retractable seat belts.
As usual with BMW that seat design and the rake/reach adjustment for the red-stitched, leather-wrapped sports steering wheel means a superb driving position. Instrumentation too, just like the 4 Series Coupe, is the usual top-notch BMW affair.
The latest BMW iDrive Touch Controller with its touch-sensitive top surface is a big improvement on the older version and the 3D maps in the new generation Navigation System Professional are cool. The BMW 4 Series Convertible also scores a head-up display.
The rear bench seat is shaped like two individual seats and behind are two massive aluminium roll bars which are normally hidden but are triggered by sensors in an accident and deploy is less than 200 milliseconds.
The boot is actually a technical masterpiece, designed to provide up to 220-litres of cargo space when the roof is open (370 litres, 20-litres more than the 3 Series, is available when the roof is closed). There is wider access and an electro-hydraulic system pivots and positions the folded hardtop roof when folded to facilitate maximized cargo volume.
BMW 428i Convertible Exterior & Styling
The 4 Series is the fifth generation of BMW’s acclaimed mid-size convertibles and, for the first time, its launch differentiates the two-door models (coupe and convertible) from the 3 Series lineup. Compared to the outgoing 3 Series Convertible, the 4 Series is 26mm longer (4638mm), 43mm wider (1825mm) and the wheelbase is 50mm longer. As well, the front track is 45mm wider and the rear track is 81mm wider.
Those changes deliver a significantly different look. Yes the 4 Series retains the classic BMW long bonnet, but the shorter overhangs and set-back passenger compartment combine with other styling improvements to deliver an overall look which is more muscly and sporty than the 3 Series.
Up front, there’s the usual BMW twin headlights, but the latest interpretation of the BMW ‘kidney’ grille adopts as slight forward-slant. Under the headlights are three black air intakes and on the far edges of the front apron are the vertical intakes for BMW’s current ‘air curtains’.
The side view is accentuated by nice, flowing lines and the sloping hard-top roof. The outlet breathers for the ‘air curtains’ are found on the front guards just behind the wheels (the aerodynamic system is just part of BMW’s ‘EfficientDynamics’).
At the rear, the extra width builds on the muscular/sporty look as do the L-shaped tail-lights.
BMW’s clever folding hard-top roof means the 4 Series Convertible, at 1384mm is just 7.0mm higher than the 4 Series Coupe. It operates in just 20 seconds at speed up to 18km/h and BMW has paid attention to refinement so with design improvements and extra sound-absorbing material for the headliner, the all-new 4 Series is even quieter than the 3 Series.
The BMW 428i Convertible rides on 19-inch star-spoke alloy wheels.
BMW 428i Convertible On The Road
Lighter and better balanced than its predecessor (BMW says axle loads are balanced 50:50); the BMW 4 Series Convertible also has a 10mm lower ride height. Of course the chassis is shared with the 4 Series Coupe but the Convertible scores unique calibration – not the least of which is camber angle and roll centres (19mm lower than the old 3 Series) – as well as body strengthening elements (torsional rigidity is 40 per-cent better than the 3 Series) to suit the open top model.
And the 4 Series Convertible is 20kgs lighter than the outgoing 3 Series model.
Up front are aluminium struts and wishbones while the rear sees a five-link design.
Melbourne in autumn isn’t best environment for open-top motoring and in fact the rain was hammering down when we tackled our high-speed mountain roads loop in the BMW 428i Convertible. Those conditions served to highlight the excellent balance of the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a wonderful chassis (in fact we reckon you could better exploit those roads in the wet in the 428i than the six-cylinder 435i).
It’s a very lithe and cohesive package with the BMW 428i’s wide track and slick suspension tune on the same page as the rev-happy turbo 2.0-litre. We liked the feel of the electronic power steering (some have criticized it) and despite the sloppy going, the BMW 428i Convertible turned-in sharply and displayed its beautifully balanced chassis at every turn.
Back in the city, the BMW 428i Convertible was noticeably more refined than the previous 3 Series with less intrusion of noise even in Melbourne’s Citylink tunnels. And clever ratios in the eight-speeder meant we had more than enough acceleration for freeway merging.
BMW 428i Convertible Issues
No gripes from us about the BMW 428i Convertible as a package. In fact all of the German hardtops are gems to drive. However it does get outgunned on pricing by its rivals.
BMW 428i Convertible Verdict
These sorts of cars have an allure which gets you the moment you see them. Get behind the wheel and they really bite hard at the old senses.
Good as the BMW 3 Series Convertible was, the all-new 4 Series is better in every way. Not that we expected anything else from BMW.
We love the looks and the driving dynamics are beyond criticism. Buy one and enjoy.
BMW 428i Convertible The Competition
Audi’s A5 Cabriolet is all class. At $96,400, the 2.0TFSI Quattro is very evenly matched with the BMW 428i (155kW/350Nm from Audi’s turbo 2.0-litre) with the added benefit of Quattro all-paw grip. A cracking all-round package really.
Mercedes-Benz delivers big-time with the gloriously styled E-Class Coupe. With 155kW/350Nm from its turbocharged 2.0-litre, at $96,400, the E250 is a great buy.