THE BMW convertibles generally strike a good pose with their top up or down.
With the top down, the slim profile of the car is accentuated by the shaped metal encasing it. The head rests sticking out of the car may seem a bit out of sorts, but if you get the right colour for the interior it would stick out less.
From the side, the 430i convertible, in fetching San Remo green, presents a flowing shape that gracefully sweeps from front to rear. The tyres may seem a tad small, but you can live with that.
There have been many comments about the grille on the new BMW models, and here’s an example of a disproportionately big one. Fortunately, the number plate breaks up the shape, and set in black against the dark green, its enormity is less obvious as it blends in better.
At the tail end, the array of shapes in the tail lights seem to make the back look larger. It’s the thicker edge of the wedge profile, but with the twin tail pipes, curved brake lights and busy bumper design, there seems to be a lot going on.
The black rag top performs an 18-second ballet piece as it pops up and into the boot, which would explain the big backside, especially since there’s still a reasonable boot even with the top tucked away. You can activate it on the move, up to a speed of 50kmh.
Getting into the back of this four-seater requires flexibility. With the top up, it’s like doing some variant of the limbo rock as you swivel hips and knees to avoid the front seat and the body of the car. Once settled in, it’s reasonably comfortable, but all the while, you’re thinking “how am I going to get out without doing some serious damage to my body?”
If you’re young and supple, this will be fun, riding in the back, especially with the top down. If you’re older, you’ll probably want the top down and work on your core muscle strength to heave yourself in and out.
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A Hot Cool Option
It’s acknowledged that the convertible is not a practical vehicle. Especially in the tropics when the sun is blazing down or the heavens love to open up.
But it sure looks cool. And that’s often all that’s needed — and a wallet able to afford *$320,888 — to decide.
So, no point belabouring the point, and let’s enjoy what’s on offer.
The 430i Convertible M Sport Pro reviewed here is loaded with a twin-turbocharged two-litre petrol engine. A detuned engine with the same capacity powers the 420i variant, with less output and slightly lower performance numbers, but with a price tag that’s almost $40K less.
The 430i Convertible delivers a 0-100kmh in 6.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 250khm. The torque of 400Nm kicks in from 1,550rpm so you’re up and running pretty quickly.
The rear-wheel push is fairly quick, and given that it doesn’t have an upper body for rigidity, it’s still sweet around corners and unflappable in sharp manoeuvres. The body is stiffened with bracing, an aluminium shear panel at the front bottom and rigid side skirts.
It’s low centre of gravity helps to keep it close to the ground and is especially comforting around sweeping corners.
With the top up, the external sounds are all but shut out. Excellent sound dampening means the engine sounds are also kept out. But there is an option to choose a sporty engine soundtrack to suit your mood, which sounds like a bit of a cheat.
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Otherwise, the soundproofing does an excellent job to allow the Harman Kardon system to be well heard.
Many driver assistance systems have been included to make for a more connected and comfortable drive. Most features are almost de rigueur in luxury cars, including park distance control, lane departure warning and speed limit information.
The 3D visualisation of the surrounding area lends more clarity when checking for any obstacles that should also be caught by the sensors.
The head-up display on the test drive car is 70% larger than previous models and offers relevant information and navigation directions that seem almost hand drawn.
The feel of the car is a lot heavier than other BMW models. And you have to be decisive when driving. Tentative footwork will result in lurching. Put your foot down, hard if you’d like, and enjoy the ride.
On slick surfaces, the 430i Convertible is a bit skittish, and manhole covers must be one of its pet peeves.
The various driving options bring about different behaviour patterns in the car. Adaptive seems to be good for general driving, especially if you’re going through various types of roads.
The fuel saving auto start/stop feature is surprisingly gentle on the car. You hardly feel it doing its thing.
The 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission does a good job of smoothly going through the gears. And paddle shifters are responsive when dropping gears quickly. And the Sprint function gives you a boost when overtaking.
With all the modern connectivity options, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto you want for very little.
For those undecided on whether a soft-top is the way to go, the 4 series convertibles may just convert you.
BMW 430i Convertible M Sport Pro RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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