BMW has unveiled the 2nd of its 4 Series variants, which it calls a Convertible, although (by virtue of the return to the soft-top configuration of its 3 Series predecessors) it ought to be called a Cabriolet! In terms of its packaging, the newcomer is far more balanced and practical than its predecessor, but its in-your-face styling won’t please everyone.
By virtue of last week’s reveal of the M3 (G80) and M4 (G82), which are expected to arrive in local showrooms during the first half of 2021, our eyes have had little choice but to get used to the Munich-based brand’s upright-grille treatment. Having said that, in combination with the sports sedan and coupe’s muscular styling and motorsport-inspired detailing, the ever-controversial double-kidney design cue was somehow in keeping with the overt sportiness and imposing nature of the cars (not to mention their almost cartoonish Isle of Man Green and Sao Paulo Yellow paint finishes).
The M Sport aesthetic updates beef up the 4 Series Convertible's bumper, but does the metallic trim suit the grille?
BMW has chosen to unveil its 4 Series Convertible replete with an M Sport kit and retina-searing (compared with the aforementioned M cars) San Remo Green metallic finish and yes, as expected, the elaborate upright grille. Whereas the “tall kidneys”, flanked by slim LED headlamps (Laserlight units are optional), may suit the outright sportscar interpretation of the 4 Series in the case of the M4 coupe, it detracts from the elegance of the open-topped version even though the Munich-based firm says “it signals the high-cooling requirement of the powertrain”.
Overall, the design is low-slung and it has wider tracks than on the outgoing model (+28 mm at the front, +18 mm at the rear). Whether you like the finished product or not, on balance, the newcomer’s a much-improved product… Because BMW has reverted to a soft-top configuration for the 1st time since the E46 3 Series Cabriolet was phased out in 2006 (the E93-gen 3 Series Convertible and its F33-generation 4 Series successor had folding hardtops), the newcomer has comparatively sleeker rear styling, especially in terms of its shapelier three-quarter proportions. Why? Well, because it has less to fold away: the new fabric roof assembly is more compact (and 40% lighter) than the previous car’s metal-and-glass origami.
There's no more excess fleshiness to the 4 Series Convertible's rump, because the roof it stores under its sheetmetal is smaller.
Another benefit of the newcomer’s revised roof configuration is a better claimed luggage capacity of 300 litres (80 litres more than before) with the roof down and 385 litres (15 litres) when the roof is up. A storage package, folding rear backrest and through-loading facility are standard.
Meanwhile, to compensate for the loss of torsional rigidity (because of the absence of a solid roof), BMW has stiffened the 4 Series Convertible’s body with specific bracing, an aluminium shear panel at the front and reinforced side skirts. The newcomer also has a 50:50 weight distribution.
BMW has finished off the 4 Series Convertible's deck with a decorative aluminium trim strip.
The range's list of powertrains comprises 4- and 6-cylinder turbopetrol and -diesel engines mated with an 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission (replete with ‘wheel-mounted shift paddles), although we anticipate that only the 420i, 430i and M440i xDrive will be offered in South Africa (the current 4 Series Convertible is only available in 420i and 440i guises). The 2.0-litre turbopetrol 4-pot delivers 135 kW/300 Nm in the 420i and 190 kW/400 Nm in the 430i, while the all-wheel drive M440i xDrive develops 275 kW/500 Nm. An M4 version will be released at a later date.
BMW offers the model with a host of optional M Sport upgrades, including a stiffer suspension with variable sport steering, adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport brakes (with blue or red brake calipers), an M Sport differential, 19-inch M light-alloy wheels, the M Carbon exterior package and, of course, an extensive catalogue of M Performance Parts.
Although the 4 Series Convertible isn't as elegant in profile as its coupe sibling, the folding roof is neatly implemented.
As for the interior, the 4 Series Convertible is strictly a 4-seater by virtue of having a pair of individual (and strictly occasional) rear seats. What's more, the new range’s derivatives come relatively well-specced with standard features, such as electrically adjustable sports seats with automatic belt feeders, Vernasca leather trim and seat heating, a sports steering wheel, as well as 3-zone automatic climate control.
The infotainment system (with a touchscreen measuring up to 10.25 inches) is underpinned by BMW’s highly configurable Operating System 7 and can be combined with a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster as extra cost. Other features include the brand's Intelligent Personal Assistant "Hey BMW", BMW Maps cloud-based navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, wifi and remote software upgrades.
The 4 Series Convertible's leather-trimmed interior is plush and incorporates quite a few nice-to-have features as standard.
Options include a clip-in wind deflector (that can be stored behind the rear seatback), neck warmers (integrated into the front headrests), extended ambient lighting, a Harman Kardon surround sound setup and a remote-controlled auxiliary heating system.
Finally, the 4 Series Convertible offers more driver assistance systems than the outgoing model, such as front-collision warning with brake intervention, lane departure warning with steering assistance and a speed-limit info system, as well as park distance control (front and rear).
BMW says the 4 Series Convertible will be in showrooms worldwide in March 2021.