The bold new grille adds to the mix of an elegant convertible that can be used daily and as a weekend leisure chariot. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The bold new grille adds to the mix of an elegant convertible that can be used daily and as a weekend leisure chariot. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

BMW has always offered an open-top variant of the 3 Series in the model’s near 50 years’ existence, and the latest BMW 4 Series convertible is good-looking and impressive, inside and out.

Despite the different nameplate, it shares the same platform, drivetrain and interior features as its 3 Series cousin, and they are leagues ahead of their predecessors.

There’s now more space for four adults, thanks to a 2,850mm wheelbase that’s 41cm more than in the old model. Eschewing the metal roof in favour of a cloth variant has also reduced the interior squeaks while yielding 14l more space in the cargo hold.

The dash too is digital, and BMW combines high-quality materials and fabrics to make an interior that’s classier, minimal in buttons and ultimately a good place to spend time in. Both driver and passenger seats in my test model adjusted electrically and the roof opens and closes in about 18 seconds even on the move at driving speeds below 50km/h.

Losing the steel roof hasn’t compromised the 4 Series in any way.  It’s the same competently solid feeling junior business convertible which gains suspension innovations that make it waft on the roads unlike other 4 Series convertible before it, yet still being engaging to drive.  The ride is utterly composed, and seemingly none of the usual surface imperfections on my customary driving routes could catch it out.

The 420i petrol derivative adopts the classic rear-wheel drive configuration, but powered by a turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine that’s managed by an eight-speed automatic transmission.

There's better interior room and a larger boot in the latest BMW 4 Series cabrio. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
There's better interior room and a larger boot in the latest BMW 4 Series cabrio. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Its quietly deployed 135kW and 300Nm outputs may look relatively meek on paper but gaining an extra 30Nm above the previous motor, and available at lower rpm, gives it ample off-the-line acceleration. It is rated at 8.2 seconds to 100km/h and has a top speed of 236km/h.

The petrol engine is an impressive and thrusting little unit that makes the 4 Series convertible lighter, more agile and more economical while losing little in terms of performance or refinement.

It also has engine and transmission modes: Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro, with all the adjustability to complement various driving situations. You can swap cogs using steering wheel paddles or the stubby gear lever, but I found it best to leave the transmission to its own devices as BMW has nailed the preset parameters for driving fast or slow.

Though my test unit was unadorned by BMW fleet standards, it had just about everything you’d need for comfy top-down driving. This included seat warmers, a powerful heater with climate control, neck warmers, a basic cruise control, active lights, a crisp but not booming loud music system, wireless charging, two types of USB ports and a basic reverse assist that’s minus a rear-image feed.   

The 4 Series Convertible comes in three choices: a base 420i, this 420i M Sport derivative, and the six-cylinder M440i xDrive.

The prospects of a melodious six-potter may be tempting, but the rationale says this middle order M Sport offers style, decent performance and a throaty exhaust tone. It is also only R52,000 pricier than the base car but a whopping R382,668 cheaper than the M440i xDrive.

The interior can be optioned with a long list of optional luxuries. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The interior can be optioned with a long list of optional luxuries. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Four-cylinder petrol turbo

Capacity: 2.0l

Power: 135kW

Torque: 300Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: Eight-speed Auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Rear wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 236km/h

0-100km/h: 8.2 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 6.6l/100km (as claimed), 8.8l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 152g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Park distance control front and rear, cruise control, USB ports, multifunction steering wheel controls, auto on/off lights, rain sensor wipers, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, leather upholstery, heated seats, remote central locking, electric roof operation, ABS, stability control and six airbags.  

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Two years/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R983,566

Lease*: R20,992 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

BMW 420i Convertible M Sport

WE LIKE: That grille, refinement, performance

WE DISLIKE: Nothing at all

VERDICT: A sensible and enjoyable dream boat  

Motor News star rating

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Competition

Mercedes-Benz E200 cabriolet, 145kW/320Nm — R1,172,640

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