2014 New BMW 435i Convertible Up-close by Henny Hemmes

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Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

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MUNICH, Germany; Metal folding roof or soft top? We do not have to guess about the choice for the 4 Series Convertible, as it was presented with a foldable hard top at the LA Auto Show in November. But internally, there must have been some discussion, as the 1- and 6 Series have a soft top, while the design of the steel top of 4 Convertible comes close to that of the 4 Series Coupe.

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However, given the fact that its predecessor, the 3 Series Cabrio, also uses metal, it is no surprise that the ‘4’ has gotten it as well. By the way, with the new nomenclature in the BMW line up - odd numbers for the sedans/estates and even numbers for the coupes and convertibles - the 2013 3 Series Convertible is the last topless model with a ‘3’ in its name badge.

It speaks for itself that the sleek design of the 4 Series Coupe is carried over in the Convertible. With the roof closed, the model also has a better stance than the previous Convertible, but misses the elegance of the coupe. With the roof stowed away behind the rear seats in the upper part of the trunk it looks classy, something you cannot say of most models in its league.

The metal roof is of a complete new construction that folds faster and has better insulation then in the Dreier. It closes or opens in 20 seconds, which is possible while driving at up to 11 mph. The folding mechanism is less complicated and, according to BMW, lighter and cheaper.

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It folds nicely in the upper part of the trunk, of which the space has improved a bit with 0.35 cubic feet. With the top up there is 13 cu-ft of space, 0.7 cu-ft more. Important is also that you now can electrically lift the folded roof to get access to the space underneath and store bag(s). That is, after you have lifted the rather heavy rear deck and pushed the divider backwards.

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When there are no passengers on the rear seats, you can use the wind deflector, which when not in use disappears nicely behind the foldable rear seatbacks. It is very effective in cutting turbulence in the cockpit and I could have a normal conversation with my colleague/co-driver.

In case the temperatures are not really comfortable, the seat heating and Air Collars, the neck warmers under the headrests of the front seats, will extend the open air driving time.

The only flaw in my opinion is the height of the backrests of the front seats. They are o.k. for me, but too low for any driver and passenger taller than, say, 6 feet.

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Dr. Dies, BMW’s board member for development said that the 4 Convertible is an all-round car for everyday use, “year round’. But we can imagine that when you are about to make a long trip and have more luggage than a couple of bags, you will take your 3 Series Sports Wagon or 5 Series Sedan.

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Anyway, when the sun shines, like during our first test drive from Las Vegas to the Vallye of Fire State Park, some 60 miles from the city, the 4 Convertible is an excellent companion. We cruise on the I-15 motorway and take the 75 to the gorgeous park.

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The latter is not a very good road, with lots of longer and short bumps, but it is a good test bed for our convertible, that does not give in. Not in any respect. The suspension evens out the bumps, we do not feel any rattles, do not feel any torsion. That is really good for a topless car. But a lot of work has been done on the subject of torsion stiffness, resulting in a 20 percent improvement over the outgoing 3 Convertible.

The chassis set up offers excellent en well refined ride comfort, but does not feel as agile as of the Coupe. This makes sense, since you do not buy a convertible to be pushing it each and every day.

We were really looking forward to drive the 4 Convertible on the winding roads through the park, but a German colleague ruined everybody’s test drive by getting 2 warnings and a speed ticket from the Ranger, who was so angry that he withdrew all permits to drive in the park that afternoon.

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However, performance wise, the 435i is no softy. Its 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine with 306 hp and 295 foot-pound of torque is good for an acceleration time from zero to 62 mph of 5.5 seconds.
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The 4 Series Convertible models get standard the 8-speed Sport automatic tranmsmission. XDrive all-wheel drive will be available on the 428i Convertible.

From the market introduction, BMW will offer two other engines: the 245 hp strong 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the 428i and, in certain markets, the 184 hp2.0-liter 4-cylinder diesel in the 420 d.

The 428i and 435i Convertibles will arrive in US showrooms in March just in time for topless driving.

Technical details BMW 4 Series Convertible

Engine 6-cylinders, turbocharged
Capacity 2,979 cc
Power 306 hp @ 5,800-6,000
Torque 206 lb-ft @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
L/w/h 182.6/71.9/54.5 inches
Wheelbase 110.6 inches
Curb weight 4,095 lbs
Tires fr/rr 225/45 R18
Acceleration 0-60 mph 5.4 sec
Top speed 155 mph
Fuel cons. city/highw/comb.(est.) n/a (Eu cycle: 10.8/5.6/7.5 l/100 km mpg
CO2-emission 176 g/km
Price: 435i Convertible from $ 55,925 (428i from $ 49.675)

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