By Otsile Kadiege
Those who know me will remember that I’m quite fond of the cabriolet body style. So when I got the news that I’ll be spending a few days with the second-generation BMW 4 Series convertible, I was as excited as a kid getting ready for a school trip. The new drop-top features a fabric soft top, opinion-splitting looks and a host of new technologies.
Our test ‘slahla’ (convertible in isiZulu slang) was finished in Mineral White paint and the optional M Sport package. One of the most stand-out features of the new BMW 4 Series Convertible is its most talked-about large kidney grille. Other exterior highlights of the new 4 Series convertible include chrome grille surrounds, optional 19-inch BMW Individual wheels and a fabric top which is said to weigh less and avail more luggage capacity compared to its hardtop predecessor. Overall we like its head-turning sporty yet classy exterior design.
Inside, the drop-top 4 Series features a familiar designthat’s also well-appointed thanks to dominant soft touch materials, Aluminium Tetragon trim finishes and leather seats with heated function, neck warmers, and seat belt presenters. It, however, misses out on heated steering wheel and the optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The comfort and practicality compared to its predecessor are night and day. The front seats are very comfortable and supportive, and operating the fabric top is quicker and noticeably quieter than the swanky hardtop. The former also avails more boot space, which was useful when I had to load a few bags for travelling.
Powering the BMW 420i Convertible is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine making 135kW/300Nm. It’s paired to an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission and BMW claims an average fuel-consumption of 6.6l/100 km.
The new 4 Series convertible makes an exciting exhaust crackle when firing-up the motor, but sadly the sound disappears when driving spiritedly. Opening and closing the top takes just 18 seconds. When open, the drop-top experience is best enjoyed at noon as the African sun can be unforgiving anytime sooner. The optional wind deflector is highly-recommended as it reduces a lot wind of noise when travelling on the highway with the top down.
The 420i has decent power and a good ride quality however, there’s a fair amount of wind noise I experienced when travelling at highway speed with the top closed. Manoeuvrability and outside view is good however, for a car that costs almost a million rands, I was quite surprised it didn’t feature a reverse camera.
The new BMW 4 Series is a perfect car for those summer road trips with your better half. It’s comfortable and interior build quality is top-notch. The omission of certain features like a virtual cluster and a reverse camera makes me question if it is worth its steep asking price.
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