10 Dec Is the BMW 4-Series Convertible The Best All Around Car?
During this time of year most of the country is thinking about cranking up the heat and putting on sweaters. The holiday season is upon us and the first day of winter is just a few short weeks away. This is not the usual time to be thinking about, or driving, a convertible. Well, I just got back from a trip to Las Vegas where I spent a few days driving around in a 2016 BMW 428i Convertible. With highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s (sometimes upper 30s) it wasn’t exactly ideal convertible weather. However, the 4-Series has a power hardtop, four seats and the option of all wheel drive. All of these factors add up to a list of ingredients that make a great year round car.
I spent much of the time with the top up but did enjoy a short afternoon drive out to Hoover Dam with it down. The twisty roads and desert landscape provided the perfect conditions to feel the performance and determine if the car was exciting enough. As I drove the car in traffic it felt big, or rather long. When I parked it and maneuvered through traffic I was constantly aware of the long hood and the distance behind me. It’s hard to explain what makes the car feel long, but I think it probably has something to do with the great side visibility. The pillar-less coupe allows you to turn your head and see much more of the car beside you than you can in just about any other normal car. This got me thinking about the 3-Series and how it has grown in size over the years.
The first BMW I ever drove was a 1996 328i sedan. I really loved those 90’s models. Today the coupe version of the 3-Series is now the 4-Series and BMW makes a 4-door version called the 4-Series Gran Coupe. So the two door 3-Series is now the 4-Series, unless you order a 4-Series Gran Coupe which has 4-doors. Are you confused yet? The BMW lineup is much more complicated than it was back in 1996 but nevertheless, I think the 4-Series convertible adds enough refinement and space for both people and luggage — that it is a welcome change.
After you drive the car for a bit the size feels rather natural. The test car I drove didn’t have a ton of options but it did have some very nice looking 18-inch wheels. The handling on the twisty roads to Hoover Dam was surprisingly good. But then, their slogan is “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” The car has a sporty side but the more I thought about it, I realize that it’s really meant to be a nice all around car. Now that we are living in the days of so many niche products, I find myself asking, “Who is this model for?” It’s nice to see a car that can be a daily driver that’s a convertible which is luxurious and sporty at times. It’s got a decent amount of power and it’s good in all weather conditions. I would add the option of neck warmers which blow heat down your neck from just beneath the head rest. Add in heated seats and you will have even more flexibility for top down motoring.
Here are some specs. For 2017, the entry level 4-Series Convertible is now the 430i which features a turbo 4-cylinder engine that puts out 248 hp. That may sound low by today’s standards and the turbo gives you a sense that the car has adequate power, but not a ton. This also helps with better fuel economy, too. The car is rated for 23 mpg city and 34 mpg highway, which is pretty good. The price for the rear wheel drive 430i starts at $50,300. If you opt for the bigger engine it starts at $57,300. On each model it will cost you $2,000 to add all wheel drive. With the smaller engine you can add quite a few options before crossing the $60,000 mark.
I must admit I’ve been a big BMW fan since I drove that ’96 328i, but I have to mention over the years the 3/4-Series has gotten a little bit bigger and a little bit softer – which I think is a good thing. If you want more performance, get the M4. If you want a convertible with just above adequate power, luxury features, and all weather capabilities, the 4-Series convertible really is the right choice. It’s hard to think of any other cars that come close to it for the price.
Photos Courtesy: Phil’s Morning Drive/BMW USA
If you’ve never been to the Hoover Dam you can hop aboard the 2016 BMW 428i Convertible as I take you on a driving tour of it in this video.
You can also follow this blog on Apple News.