By: Denis Droppa
Durban - BMW South Africa has popped the top of its BMW 4 Series Coupé.
The two-door Convertible gets an electric hard top that takes around 20 seconds to fold up or down in a striptease act that can take place while the car’s being driven at up to 18km/h, so a complete halt isn’t necessary.
As replacement to the previous-generation 3 Series Convertible, BMW’s new open-air car adopts the even-numbered badging of the 4 Series Coupé, in line with BMW’s new nomenclature policy.
With the roof up there’s little to reveal that this is a convertible 4 Series, and the retractable hardtop is sound-proofed for cocooned cruising silence.
There’s also almost no evidence of scuttle shake – that dreaded shimmy-shimmy-shake of convertibles of yesteryear – and the Beemer feels rock solid on the road thanks to body and chassis strengthening to make up for the rigidity-robbing deletion of the roof.
This makes the Convertible slightly heavier than the fixed-roof 4 Series Coupé, but nothing that meaningfully affects its performance or cornering abilities. A cruise through KZN’s twisty and occasionally potholed inland roads at the Convertible’s media launch last week convinced me that if you wish to get messy hair and a sunburned forehead in a 4 Series Beemer, you don’t have to do it at the cost of any driving dynamics. Its low centre of gravity (it rides 1cm lower than a 3 Series) and 50/50 weight distribution give it plenty fleet-footedness through the bends.
As an option the car can be ordered with electronically controlled dampers which soften and stiffen according to the driving situation.
The messy-hair effect can be minimised by fitting an optional windblock over the rear seats to reduce turbulence when the roof’s down. When it’s not needed, the windblock can be stored behind the rear seat to save space, which is a new feature. There are three-temperature neck warmers in the front seat headrests, so that open-air driving can be enjoyed all year long, even in winter.
For a Convertible the car offers decent boot space at 370 litres with the roof up and 220 litres down. When the top’s stored in the boot it can be pivoted upwards to provide easy access for suitcases.
Passengers also enjoy more headroom and rear legroom than in the predecessor.
The 4 Series Convertible’s available right now in two engine derivatives, the four-cylinder 428i (180kW) and six-cylinder 435i (225kW) – with the four-cylinder 420i (135kW) arriving in September. All engines are turbocharged, and paired with either six-speed manual or eight-speed auto transmissions feeding the rear wheels.
The character of the car can be switched to a sportier or more comfortable character with the standard-fitted Driving Experience Control switch on the centre console, which offers Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport or Sport+ modes.
There are five equipment lines including Standard, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport and a raft of options to choose from including active cruise control, surround-view parking assistant, head-up display, and Driving Assistant Plus which automatically applies the brakes when an impending collision is sensed.