February 21, 2018


Available in time for summer is BMW’s new 4 series convertible – the direct replacement for the 3 series drop-top


Dimensions of the new car have grown, with an overall 26mm increase in length and a 50 mm wider wheelbase. This combines to give it an even more purposeful appearance than its predecessor. Other design highlights include hexagonal shaped headlights and slightly forward-slanting BMW kidney grille, with a large air intake in the front apron.

As with the 3 series convertible, the new 4 series drop top gets a metal folding roof, which although offering far greater refinement and security than a fabric alternative, does add a significant weight gain (the 4 series convertible is 200kg heavier than the coupé). However, with 181 bhp and 380NM of torque, this 420d still feels brisk, if not rapid, with 0-62 taking 8.2 seconds, although it can still stomp on to 146 mph, yet return a 53.3 combined mpg, and cough out a highly respectable 138 g/km of CO2.

Being a four-cylinder diesel, the engine sounds gruff rather than sporty and doesn’t really go with the car’s looks or feel. Of course, the more powerful petrol 428i and 435i models provide significantly greater performance and sonic thrills, if not the diesel’s fuel sipping frugality.

Dynamically the Convertible doesn’t possess the sparkle of the coupe, either. Make no mistake, it’s still an engaging, surefooted drive, but misses out on the usual BMW magic. On the plus side the ride is more compliant than the coupe, making it an accomplished and comfortable cruiser with the roof up. A press of the button and 20 seconds later you’ll be driving in open-top mode, where you’ll find the BMW to provide good protection from wind buffeting. Roof lowering/raising can be done on the move, but only up to speeds of 8 mph.

As is often the case with metal-roof cabrios, boot space is at premium and unfortunately it’s the same story with the 4 series: the decent-sized 370 litre boot diminishing to a pokey 220 litres once the roof’s down.

Elsewhere in the cabin there’s plenty of space – front occupants are well catered for with supportive leather sports seats and the driver gets a low-slung but comfortable helm, with lots of adjustability. Even in the rear the BMW has decent leg, head and shoulder room, the only complaint being a rather upright rear bench which may prove uncomfortable on longer journeys – although there is a big centre armrest. Overall cabin feel is a bit austere, but this is relieved by choosing a lighter coloured upholstery. A simple dash layout incorporates well located gauges and switchgear, with a high-mounted infotainment screen. The system is easy-to-use and controls the car’s preference settings, in addition to navigation, audio and Bluetooth.

Admittedly, BMW’s asking price for even this entry level 420d SE Convertible isn’t cheap, but it does come loaded with a generous amount of standard kit, including: Xenon headlights, rear Park Distance Control, Dakota leather interior, heated, electric seats, auto lights/ wipers, climate control, cruise control and 6.5 inch colour display, incorporating DAB tuner. The 4 Series Convertible can also be specified with BMW’s Air Collar, which blasts warm air on your neck – perfect for winter top-down drives.


BMW’s new mid-size convertible has much to recommend it. On the one hand it has sharp looks, impressive comfort, refinement and economy and comes with lots of standard equipment. But it lacks the dynamic sparkle of the 4 series coupé and has a restricted amount of boot space with roof lowered.


BMW 420d SE Convertible
OTR Price: £36,675
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power: 181 bhp
Torque: 380Nm
0-62 mph: 8.2 seconds
Top speed: 146mph
Economy: 53.3 mpg
CO2 138 g/km




About Philip