2014 BMW 435i Convertible review

The 435i Convertible is the full-on turbo petrol version of BMW's four-seat drop-top and we've driven it in the UK. 'Range-topping' doesn't always mean 'best', though

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This is the most powerful petrol version of the BMW 4 Series Convertible, and it’s aimed at those who want to travel quickly but who can’t countenance hearing the grumble of a diesel engine.

The coupe version of the 435i is our current favourite in the coupe class, so this drop-top should have all the right ingredients to impress, with power, classy looks and a folding hard-top for maximum flexibilty.

This engine might be more efficient than ever, but it’s also aimed at people who don’t have to worry too much about the cost of refueling their car, so it's the way it drives that will count most.

What’s the BMW 435i Convertible like to drive?

Under the bonnet lies a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six engine, and in the car we tried it was linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, driving the rear wheels.

Three hundred and two brakehorsepower. Sounds like quite a bit, doesn’t it? More than enough to make your everyday journeys feel a step above the norm every time you press the throttle.

The same goes for the headline performance figures of 0-62mph in a brisk 5.6 seconds and top speed of 155mph. Those are guaranteed to give you a buzz, aren’t they? Believe it or not, they aren’t, because the 4 Series Convertible is a bit on the hefty side, weighing in at more than 1700kg.

Put your foot down at anything below 2000rpm and the response is languid to say the least. Not until the needle on the rev-counter has passed 4000rpm does the car respond with genuine verve.This is partly because the car feels quite long-geared in the interests of economy. If you rev it out, even in third gear, you’re doing the sort of speeds that the police use helicopters to pursue.

The engine certainly revs smoothly, but we can’t help feeling that a lower-revving, punchier diesel would better suit the character of the car.

The steering is just about the right weight and is neither too sharp nor too slow, so you know just how the car is turning at any given moment.

However, the car’s sheer heft also affects the handling. The 435i drop-top certainly feels secure enough, and won’t deviate from your chosen line unless you’re doing silly speeds, but it is not a car to be hustled along a back road. The standard adaptive suspension certainly keeps the body well under control, and the ride is sorted, but there's no disguising the weight.

It’s much more at home on the motorway, where it’ll do mile after mile in arrow-straight comfort.

What’s the BMW 435i Convertible like inside?

With the roof up, the drop-top feels just like the 4 Series coupe; there’s little trembling or shimmying from the body as you drive along, and not too much wind noise. There’s a fair bit of road noise though.

Space is good. You’d have to be extremely tall to have any issues with headroom and there’s more than enough legroom up front.

In the back there’s enough space for two people to be comfortable enough for a while, but after a time they’ll probably hope the journey is over sooner rather than later. Getting into and out of the back is likely to be an exercise largely devoid of grace, too.

Of course, you could just put down the roof. This is not the work of a moment, so complex is the process. Nonetheless, folding the roof alleviates most of these issues, because headroom is limitless and getting into and out of the back seat is made a lot easier.

If you want to be bluster-free you’ll need to erect the plastic wind deflector, but this effectively also blocks off the entire rear-seat area, so your 435i Convertible becomes a two-seater. It’s an extremely effective thing, though; there’s almost no buffeting with it in place.

Quality is good, although perhaps no longer class-leading, and the 435i Convertible certainly comes with plenty of toys to keep you amused if the feeling of being outside inside isn’t enough for you.

To that end it comes with cruise and climate controls, Bluetooth, multi-function steering wheel, automatic xenon lights and wipers, and full leather trim.

Should I buy one?

If you’re after a creamy, petrol-powered four-seat convertible, the 4 Series is one of the best out there. It’s even pretty efficient, with a Government economy figure of 33.6mpg and a CO2 output of 195g/km.

However, the 435i Convertible is a long way from being the best 4 Series Convertible. 

It simply takes too long to get going and forces you to rev it hard if you want to get anywhere briskly, all of which doesn’t really suit the character of the car.

We’d say you’d be better off with one of the diesel models, which are much more relaxing to drive, and which will go significantly farther on every gallon.

We’d also take part of the money saved by going for the diesel and spend it on an automatic gearbox, which will make your progress on boulevard or backroad even smoother and more relaxing.

What Car? says...



Rivals

Audi A5 Cabriolet

Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet



Specification

Engine size 3.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £45,480
Power 302bhp
Torque 315lb ft
0-60mph 5.6 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 33.6mpg
CO2 195g/km

 
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