Spring is officially upon us. It took quite awhile to feel it, at least here on the East Coast, but it’s finally here. Flowers are blossoming, trees are turning green again and that fresh smell is back in the air. So perfect time to do some top-down driving.
Convertibles generally aren’t accepted by car enthusiasts. Most don’t like ‘verts for their lack of torsional rigidity which leads to a bit sloppier of handling. Will most humans ever be able to tell the lack in rigidity? No, but I guess when you know it’s there, you just can’t shake the notion that it’s worse. A lot of enthusiasts don’t like convertibles for the image. Admittedly, some ‘verts can look a bit secretaryish which, I know, isn’t an actual word. When most enthusiasts think of convertibles, the first image that pops into their heads is of a middle-aged woman driving a Mustang Convertible with an Automatic, and they instantly start foaming at the mouth.
But ‘verts aren’t so bad. In fact, there are many convertibles that offer incredible driving experiences. BMW has three, in fact, which are worthy of your hard-earned enthusiast dollars. The beautiful thing about the three is that they’re all so different from each other.
There’s the 2 Series ‘vert, which is based on the, already excellent, 2 Series coupe. The 2 Series convertible is actually quite the fun, engaging little car to drive. It’s got great chassis dynamics, borrowed from its hard-topped sibling, willing engines and nice steering. It may not be the manliest looking car around, but we’re not looking for manly, we’re looking for fun. The 228i ‘vert is the better deal of the 2 Series family, with its 2.0 liter turbocharged engine making 242 hp. That, mated to an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, makes the 228i convertible a nice little top-down toy. The M235i is the animal of the 2 Series lineup and losing the top doesn’t change anything. It’s still very fast, handles extremely well and, despite having a soft top, still looks very aggressive. However, the M235i convertible gets into some troubled territory, price-wise, as it’s knocking at the door of its older 4 Series sibling.
Which leads to the 4 Series convertible. The 4 Series is one of the better driving coupes on the market, so it’s safe to say that the convertible version falls into a similar category. The 4 Series convertible also has the virtue of a mechanical hardtop, so it doesn’t look as girly with the top up. The 428i is the 4er ‘vert to get, despite its massive power disadvantage compared to the 435i. The 428i is plenty fast enough, handles just as well and looks just as good. The 435i is much faster, but at $54,000 to start, it’s in Porsche Boxster territory and, I’m sorry BMW fans, but it’s not as good as the Boxster.
BMW does sell an M4 convertible which would be worth its very high $72,000 price tag. The M4 is a phenomenal car and adding infinite headroom and more exhaust noise would just improve on the experience.
Probably the best convertible in BMW’s lineup, though, is the 6 Series/M6.
Possibly one of the best grand tourers on the market, the 6 Series convertible brings top-down touring to a different level. All variations (640i, 650i and M6) do essentially the same thing, only at different rates of speed. Both standard 6ers offer a powerful, luxurious, comfortable and fun top-down experience. The M6 does the same, just with a little more excitement. None of these cars are true driver’s cars, as they aren’t meant to be. But that’s what makes the convertibles so enticing. Being that convertibles are inherently flawed, in terms of handling, compared to their coupe versions, the 6er allows you to just enjoy the fresh air and exhaust noise without having to worry about torsional rigidity. The M6 can actually handle quite a bit, but it still isn’t the driver’s car that the M4 is, so it’s best to just drop the top, listen to that V8 and relax.
It’s wonderful that BMW offers a stylish, good handling convertible in a few different price ranged. You don’t have to be Warren Buffet to have a BMW ‘vert that is both good looking and fun to drive. So having said that, which BMW ‘vert do you want most to enjoy this Spring time weather in?