Our unpredictable weather has never stood in the way of Irish buyers and their love of convertibles, but just to be on the safe side we went to the South of Spain to test the new BMW 4 Series Convertible.
Following hot on the heels of the stunning 4 Series Coupé, the latest Beemer is definitely a machine for those who appreciate style and wind-in-the-hair motoring. With a price tag starting from €55,090 OTR (on the road), many buyers might be at the stage in life where there isn't that much hair left to blow in the wind, but they will certainly enjoy motoring in style.
Up to the 'A' pillar (windscreen), the Convertible is identical to the Coupé, but from there rearwards it is unique.
The fifth-generation of this class of drop-top from the Bavarian brand gets a new, three-piece, folding metal hard top roof. The complex mechanism takes 20 seconds to raise or lower via the touch of a button that is found between the front seats. You can operate the roof at speeds of up to 10km/h.
When the roof is down and you need access to the boot, you simply pop the boot open and press the loading aid button that raises the folded roof enough to allow loading of a modest-but-useful 220 litres of luggage. Any baggage must fit under a pull-down cover that ensures enough room for the folded roof. When the roof is up there is up to 370 litres of boot space available.
Inside the cabin you'll find the familiar 4 Series bits and pieces, but there is now a new sun reflective leather used in the seat trim. The four-seat car comes with a new mesh wind deflector that cleverly folds and stows behind the rear seatback - there is no need to open the boot to use or store it. There is also improved, wider 'through' loading - so you can fit more snowboards!
One new gadget housed in both front seats is well worth getting. The 'Air Collar' is BMW's version of Mercedes' 'Air Scarf' that we first saw way back with the second-generation SLK. Air Collar is a hot air vent built into the front seats that heats the neck area. There are three intensity settings, adjustable via buttons. The Air Collar can also sense whether the roof is up or down and adjust itself accordingly!
SE, Luxury, Modern and M-Sport are the trim levels available. At Motors we are big fans of BMW's M-Sport specification: it makes cars look more purposeful and dynamic.
On the road the Convertible felt substantial when we tested two versions. The 420d, powered by the two-litre, four-cylinder diesel unit, we know well. The 420d will be the big seller. We also put the indulgent and effortless 435i (from €76,120 OTR), six-cylinder, petrol-powered machine with 306hp and 400nm of torque through its paces. And yes, it did deliver the biggest grins. It also makes the most interesting sound when accelerating hard. The larger, great-looking alloys on the 435i do pick up road imperfections, and if you travel on poor 'B' roads a lot could prove a little tiresome.
Starting at €60,730, the 428i four-cylinder (245hp/350nm) will be interesting, as it will deliver a quieter roof-up experience compared to the 420d - this is important for urban users. However, at speed or when the roof is down, the 420d is very refined.
The BMW 4 Series Convertible is a classy machine that makes you want to plan a road trip across Europe.