By Mary Lowry
Things are really going well in my life’s automotive department when a week in a convertible and a week of perfect weather occur simultaneously. And that happened this past spring with the 2014 BMW 435i Convertible.
BMW created the 4 Series by reconfiguring the 3 Series coupe and renaming it. The new model rides lower and is larger in width and wheelbase than its predecessor. It is also the beneficiary of tech upgrades bestowed on the current 3 Series sedan when it was redesigned to the point of all-newness two years ago.
The 4 Series is available in two-door coupe and convertible versions, and a four-door Gran Coupe model should be arriving at dealerships right about now. But, to concentrate on the convertible:
There are two models, 428i and 435i, differentiated by their engines. The first has a 2.0-liter twin turbo four-cylinder; the latter is powered by a 3.0-liter twin turbo inline six-cylinder. Both come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive; BMW’s all-wheel drive system, xDrive, is optional. Base prices, including a $925 destination charge, are $49,675 for the 428i and $55,825 for the 435i.
My tester was the 435i, whose six-cylinder engine delivers 300 horsepower, a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds, and an EPA fuel economy rating of 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway. Five option packages on the tester — Cold Weather, Driver Assistance, Dynamic Handling, Premium, Technology — ensured there would be no complaints from the driver about deprivation. The Cold Weather Package even includes a neck warmer.
With the push of a button, the car’s three-piece hardtop is lowered or raised in 20 seconds. A mesh windblock helps keep the passenger cabin free of the gale-force winds that spoil lesser convertibles. In fact, the 4 Series Convertible’s cabin remains remarkably calm with the top down, even at highway speeds.
Trunk space with the top down isn’t too bad, but if more cargo space is needed, the rear bench seat’s backrest can be collapsed, creating a flat storage area. That eliminates two of the four seating positions, of course, but how often does any top-down compact convertible carry four people, except in cartoons?
Not to complain, but as awesome as the 435i was, I couldn’t stop thinking that the 428i would be a better way to go. Its 255-horsepower four-cylinder clears 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds. Its fuel economy rating is 23 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with rear-wheel drive, 21/33 mpg with xDrive. And several thousand dollars are saved during the purchase transaction alone.
Yes, the 435i is the bad boy, but his behavior is mostly show-offy overkill. What kind of person gets into a luxury convertible, drops the top, and craves being able to go 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds instead of 6.2 seconds? No one I want to hang with, that’s for sure.
2014 BMW 435i CONVERTIBLE
Base price, including destination charge: $55,825
Price as driven: $65,775
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a board member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do manufacturers control the content of the reviews.