Don’t expect to see a whole load of changes when you first clap eyes on the latest BMW 430i Convertible. While the majority of updates may be aesthetic, they are so subtle that you would hardly notice them if the new car was parked side by side with its predecessor.
BMW has treated the latest version of its two-door convertible to some flashy new LED headlights and taillights, two new exterior colours and some slightly revised styling cues at the front and rear of the car. The interior has also been refreshed, with BMW building on the 430i’s ‘perceived quality’.
Looks and image
While the 4 Series Coupe is quite a handsome looking thing, unfortunately the same can’t quite be said of the latest 430i Convertible. With the metal roof folded away, the 4 Series looks soft, wallowy, and awkward in the way that four-seater convertibles often do. Extending the roof so that it’s back in place goes some way to improving the car’s visual appeal, but you still can’t quite shake the idea that BMW has taken a good-looking car and ruined it by chopping the roof off.
So yes, the exterior of the 430i Convertible might not be quite as attractive as that of its Coupe counterpart, but the interior is – thankfully – business as usual. There’s a pleasing logic to the layout of the controls, build quality seems unflappable and the plush materials adorning the cabin are of the premium levels of quality you’d expect from a BMW.
Space and practicality
One of the greatest advantages of a convertible is the ability to fold the roof down and treat all occupants to an unlimited amount of headroom. In the warmer summer months, this is a fantastic solution. However, the UK is notoriously fickle as far as its weather is concerned, so don’t be surprised if you spend more time with the roof in place than folded away.
With the roof up, headroom in the front seats is more than plentiful, as is shoulder room. Taller passengers in the rear seats will find the space on offer bearable, but only over shorter journeys. Legroom isn’t exactly brilliant back there, either, so make sure you give any adult-sized backseat passengers plenty of forewarning if you’re planning on taking them on a particularly long drive. Children, on the other hand, should be more than happy in the back of the 430i Convertible.
That intricate folding metal roof also means boot capacity takes a hit, dropping to 370 litres as opposed to the 425 litres on offer in the regular Coupe model.
Behind the wheel
The BMW 430i Convertible is something of a mixed bag. Where the 4 Series Coupe is quite a taught, agile and sporty-feeling car – particularly the 440i – the roadster feels far more laid back and relaxed in its approach to things.
The steering is very light – almost to the point of being totally uncommunicative – and while the BMW feels as though it has plenty of grip through the corners, there is a noticeable amount of lean when you really push hard.
That four-cylinder engine is also a point of contention. It’s certainly no slouch, but accelerate hard and you’re met with a rather grating and unattractive sound. Yes, it’s supposed to offer a combination of power and economy, but next to the 3.0-litre straight-six from the 440i, the four-cylinder just isn’t that exciting.
However, it’s not all bad news. Where the 4 Series really impresses is as a cruising machine. With the top down, the cabin is surprisingly quiet. While there is some wind buffeting, it’s nowhere near the levels you’ll experience in a smaller convertible sports car such as the Mazda MX-5 – so well done, BMW.
With the roof up, the BMW 430i feels practically the same as any other hard-top as far as its refinement is concerned. Sure, there is some wind noise – but nowhere near enough to drive you up the wall. At cruising speed, the four-cylinder engine is impressively quiet, too.
Value for money
Prices for the BMW 4 Series Convertible start at £37,630, which gets you the basic Sport model. Standard equipment on this specification includes 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery, satellite navigation and electronically-adjustable seats. The top-spec M Sport model costs from £38,980, and adds M Sport suspension, sportier exterior styling and exterior M Sport badging.
Who would buy one?
BMW will say that the 430i Convertible is targeted at older, middle-aged buyers who have clearly done quite well for themselves in life. While this is certainly true to some extent, you can’t help but feel that the drop-top will also be bought by those buyers who want nothing more than to swan around town with the roof down. It wouldn’t be ridiculous to say that the 430i Convertible will appeal hugely to posers.
If it were our money on the line, we’d opt for the hard-top 430i Coupe every day of the week. Yes, the convertible does offer buyers the opportunity for top-down motoring, which will be fantastic for those couple of days in the summer where the sun is out, but most of the time the roof will be up. The option of having unlimited headroom isn’t quite enough to justify the compromised looks and handling as far as we’re concerned.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: BMW 430i Convertible
Base price: £41,790
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 6.2 seconds