2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible review
Drop-tops should be fun when the sun's out, but also cope well as daily drivers. How well does BMW's 2 Series cover both bases?...
The expansion of BMW's 2 Series range continues apace. Its Coupe and Active Tourer versions are already established, a seven-seat Gran Tourer has been announced and this Convertible has just launched.
The engine choice is familiar, consisting of four petrols in 2.0- or 3.0-litre, four- or six-cylinder forms, and a single 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel, which is what we're driving here. A lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel will arrive later.
This 20d is likely to be the most popular choice here in the UK, offering decent performance coupled with impressive fuel economy and emissions.
Reduced practicality is a given, but open-tops can't get away with being a one-trick pony for the summer months. The Audi A3 Cabriolet has proved it's up to the task, so how does the BMW stack up against its biggest rival?
What's the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible like to drive?
We've already tried BMW's latest 2.0-litre diesel in the X3 and, as with that car, it remains a strong, decently refined companion.
The engine starts pulling well from around 1600rpm, and it's well on-song by 2000rpm, so you rarely find yourself having to change down more than one gear to get it going.
The engine becomes raucous under load, but settles down nicely at a constant motorway cruise, while there's only minor vibration felt through the pedals. Unfortunately the manual gearbox is still stiff and more notchy than we'd like - an A3's is nicer.
Other frustrations include poor rear visibility with the roof in place, partly because of the small rear screen, and pedals that are offset to the right.
The BMW's steering is better than the Audi's, though, feeling just as precise but more evenly weighted. The BMW has the more agile front end, too, while its body control is every bit as good as the A3's.
Ride quality at low speeds is good, with impressive initial bump absorption. Our car was fitted with optional M Sport adaptive suspension (£750), and in 'Comfort' mode (one of four, the others being 'Eco', 'Sport' and 'Sport+') gave the best blend of ride and handling.
However, speed things up in any driving mode and introduce cambers and broken asphalt, and the 2 Series suffers the consequences: its body fails to stay completed settled as bumps shiver through the car's body.
Roof down (which takes 19sec up speeds of up to 30mph), passengers are sheltered from buffeting winds - even more so with BMW's wind deflector in place, although it's a shame it's a £260 optional extra.
Roof up, the cabin is very well insulated indeed. There's the odd bit of road noise over coarse surfaces, but nothing too intrusive, and wind noise is kept at bay.
What's the 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible like inside?
There's room for two tall adults to stretch out in the front of the Convertible's cabin. Jump into the back seats, though, and things are more of a squeeze.
Access to the rear seats isn't the issue - the doors open wide and the front seats are easily moved forward - but leg room with the front seats in place is tight. Head room isn't particularly generous if the rear passengers are beyond six foot tall, either.
Even with the roof folded into the luggage compartment there's a decent amount of boot space on offer, at 280 litres. With the roof up that grows to 335 litres. That's marginally more than an A3 Cabriolet's, and easily enough for weekly shop, even if it's quite a shallow space with a narrow opening.
The 2 Series Convertible's dash mimics the rest of the 2 Series range. The majority of plastics are good quality, but some lower down feel on the scratchy side. The climate control switchgear is within easy reach and its button and rotary dial layout are simple to use.
BMW's iDrive infotainment system comes as standard and remains the best on the market. The menus are clearly defined, much like the screen itself, and the rotary controller between the front seats makes light work of connecting a phone or finding a radio station.
Entry-level SE models come with 17in alloy wheels, the smaller 6.5in-screen iDrive system, climate control, Bluetooth, DAB radio, rear parking sensors and a USB socket. Sport models add larger alloys and sportier styling while Luxury versions add leather upholstery.
M Sport models forgo the leather, but add a different alloy wheel design and even more aggressive body styling and stiffer suspension as standard.
Should I buy one?
The 220d Convertible is a very desirable thing. It's quick yet frugal, well equipped and good fun to thread along a winding country road.
Compared directly with our favourite diesel Audi A3 Cabriolet, the 2.0 TDI 150, it's got a tough job on its hands. The Audi has a nicer interior in terms of quality, is cheaper to buy in the first place and to run for both a private or company car driver.
Okay, so the Audi's engine is down on the BMW's power, its boot is a little smaller and its handling isn't as fun, but its performance is more than adequate, and it manages to be an even more refined proposition.
What Car? says...
BMW 220d Convertible
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £29,965
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 7.5 seconds
Top speed 140mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg