Ironically, one of the more exciting 4 Series models to make its debut is this one — the BMW 4 Series Convertible. Typically, convertibles aren’t as exciting as their fixed-roof counterparts, as they add weight, decrease rigidity and often times spoil the looks. And while we’re not as excited about the new drop-top 4 Series as we were about the Coupe, it is an exciting new car because it’s been improved over its predecessor more so than the Coupe was.
This new BMW 4 Series Convertible is obviously based on the brand-new 4 Series Coupe, so it gets all of the same new styling elements and mostly the same mechanics. Obviously the biggest change is that its roof folds down. That folding roof is a big deal for this new 4 Series ‘Vert, though, as it’s been changed quite a bit over its predecessor.
The Roof Makes All the Difference
Last-generation’s 4 Series Convertible used a folding metal roof, making it a hard-top convertible. While that sort of kept its coupe-like looks with the roof up, it actually ended up making the car worse. Not only are hard-tops more complicated, more expensive to make and odd looking but they also add quite a bit of weight in the worse possible place to add weight — up top. This new drop-top 4er ditches the folding metal roof for a 40-percent lighter, less complex soft-top and it’s all the better for it.
Not only does reduce weight but it also lowers the center of gravity, as that weight loss is up high in the chassis structure. That improves it handling, agility and ride quality two-fold. More than that, soft-tops actually look more elegant when they’re up, as folding hard-tops look like coupes that were drawn by a toddler with their eyes closed.
Additionally, moving to a soft-top also increases cargo space. Thanks to having a much more compact roof structure, the new 4 Series Convertible gains an additional 1.2 cubic feet of trunk space, bumping it to a total of 9.0 cubic feet.
For any fans worried about temperature or sound insulation, as soft-tops typically are worse than hard-tops in those regards, BMW has added quite a bit of insulation to this new fabric roof, as well as a flush-fitting rear glass panel. Even with its thicker insulation, it gives passengers 0.2 additional inches of headroom.
One cool aspect of this new soft-top roof is the fact that it comes in two different colors. There’s the standard black roof, which is rather obvious, but there’s also the optional Moonlight Black roof, which adds a metallic shimmer to it in direct sunlight.
Sharper Handling Than Before
Despite being lighter than the previous 4 Series Convertible, it’s still heavier and less rigid than the Coupe. There’s just no getting around that when built on a traditional chassis. However, BMW has gone to work to increase the torsional rigidity and strength of this new drop-top 4.
Additional front bracing connects the front shock towers to the bulkhead as well as the front end and more bracing was added to the rear axle as well. New side skirts with additional rigidity have been added, as well as a sheer panel to the front end, a new rear floor plate and a reinforced transmission tunnel. All of which are designed to make the Convertible as close to the Coupe, in terms of rigidity, as possible.
Hopefully all of this additional bracing, along with the fact that this new chassis is far stiffer than the outgoing car’s to begin with, can make a marked improvement over the previous 4 Series Convertible. That car was about as as rigid as soggy bread and felt as if it would rattle apart over big bumps with the roof down.
In case of a rollover, two safety bars shoot out behind the passenger compartment, via pyrotechnic charge, to keep the 4 Series from squashes any heads. So BMW has you covered in that regard as well.
Still a 4 Series
Aside from those Convertible-specific changes, this new topless 4 Series is still a 4 Series. So it still handles every bit as well; thanks to the same as-standard lift-related dampers or adaptive suspension; and gets the same engines. In the US market, there will be the BMW 430i Convertible and BMW M440i Convertible, both of which will be offered with either standard rear-wheel drive or optional xDrive all-wheel drive.
The BMW 430i gets the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine as the Coupe, making 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. While the BMW M440i Convertible still gets a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six with 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. The M440i also gets a 48-volt mild-hybrid setup.
All 4 Series models use an eight-speed automatic transmission. Now, though, there’s a new “Sprint” function that allows for what is essentially an ultra-quick passing mode. If you pull the left paddle and hold it for more than one second, the 4 Series Convertible will kick down to the lowest possible gear, switch everything into its sportiest setting; including engine, suspension and exhaust; the gauges turn sportier and the word “Sprint” appears in the main cluster. We’re eager to try this to see how well it works.
Topless is a Good Look
The standard BMW 4 Series Coupe is a good looking car, even with its funky looking new face, but it also looks good sans roof. This new 4 Series Convertible is a surprisingly handsome car, regardless of its roof position. With the roof up, it obviously isn’t as pretty as the Coupe but it’s far more elegant than the previous-generation ‘Vert, with its frumpy metal roof. The fabric roof gives it a more premium, more sophisticated look than before and it’s a welcome change.
With the roof down, it looks like a genuine sporty GT car, just one that’s a bit smaller than usual. Somehow, it also seems that the lack of roof actually works with the new grille design better, if only because it takes your eyes away from it.
Can we also talk about the lovely shade of green in these photos? It’s called San Remo Green and not only is it fabulous but it’s also just one of several new interesting colors. Portimao Blue Metallic, Artic Race Blue Metallic, Sunset Orange Metallic and Bluestone Metallic all combine with the standard suite of BMW colors to offer a more complex pallet than most other BMWs. They’re all welcome additions but San Remo Green is the most exciting.
Inside, your typical suite of interior color options are available, including Canberra Beige, Tacora Red, Mocha, Cognac, Oyster and Black. Still, there’s enough variety to have a few really special color combinations between its new exterior and interior colors.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the new 4 Series, due to its new polarizing grille design, but this new 4 Series Convertible looks better than expected and seems to be a bright spot in the lineup. We’re anxious to give it a drive.