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First Drive: 2015 BMW 228i Convertible Review by Henny Hemmes


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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
February 5, 2015

     • SEE ALSO: BMW BUYERS GUIDE


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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

BMW 2 Series Convertible… another niche model? No, not really, the new convertible is the successor of the topless 1 Series. In line with BMW’s new designation for coupes and convertibles, it is now called a 2 Series. For our first test drive in Austin, TX, the weather did not desert us. After a rainy weekend, our day was flooded with sunlight.

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

I think the 2 Series Cabrio is much better looking than its predecessor, both topless and with the fabric roof closed - especially because the 11 millimeter/0.43 inches longer body improves the proportions. Like the Coupe, the length of the 2 Series Convertible is also increased by 72 mm/2.8 in. and the wheel base increased by 30 mm/1.2in. All combined, this makes the new convertible look more elegant, and much less cramped than its predecessor.

Of course, the new dimensions improve the leg room for rear passengers, which was really necessary - the 1 Series Cabrio offered practically no leg room in the back. It was only good for a short ride for a person who was prepared to sit askew. In the new model, the space is still limited, but it’s at least more manageable for a longer journey.

The luggage compartment also benefits from the increased length and width and adds 30 liters/1.1 cu-ft. of space with the top closed, or 20 l/0.7 cu-ft with the top folded to 335 and 280 liter respectively, or 9.9 and 11.8 cu-ft.

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

Practicality has been added by providing a through-loading aperture in the rear seat backrest and by the possibility of folding it down. The new top has double layers, the interior one with added insulation, which also reduces wind noise. It can be opened or closed by pushing the button in the center console, while driving up to 50 km/h (30 mph) which takes 20 seconds.

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

Compared to the construction of its predecessor, the 2 Series Convertible is much different. Jonas Wachter, the BMW designer responsible for the body and the hood, told me that the torsional rigidity of the body increased by some 20 per cent. It is a result of the use of high tension steel, stress bars underneath a different front structure, an x-structure in the hood, increased thickness of the door sills and other measures.

“Compared to the coupe there are a lot of modifications,” Mr. Wachter said, “the A-pillars are completely different and under the wind screen the 2 Convertible has parts from the 4 Series. Two roll over bars are hidden behind the head rests of the rear seats. They ‘pop up’ when the roll-over sensors detect a certain angle and come out higher than the headrests.” Compared to the Coupe, and depending on the engine, the Convertible weighs 150 kg/331 pounds more, including the 67 kg/148 lbs of the roof.

Mr. Wachter added that a lot of effort has been put into reduction of wind noise: “We modified and tested, again and again. It is difficult to calculate and simulate. You really have to go to the wind tunnel.”

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

Everything looks familiar when you step into the open cockpit. Indeed even early this January morning, the soft top is already hidden and the red interior added to the sunny atmosphere. Everything, dashboard, center console, gear lever, buttons, you name it, looks familiar. That is no surprise, also this open top model offers the typical BMW interior design with the signature iDrive controller in the center console.

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

Our test car, a silver 228i with Sport Line, was equipped with excellent seats. The thick steering wheel with the red stitching coordinated nicely with the beautiful Coral Red Dakota Leather with black stitching. The M Sport Suspension is included in the package with several other options. The 228i was equipped with the well-known automatic transmission that matched the engine revs by changing gears unnoticeable.

With the wind deflector deployed and windows up, there is hardly any wind. Also the noise level is low so that you can talk without raising your voice. We usually drove nicely at the maximum allowed speed on the public roads around Austin. But even when the needle of the odometer touches the 100 mph mark, the coiffure will remain as if you have just left the hairdresser.

During our morning test drive, the convertible attracted quite a lot of attention, especially when we stopped in front of the fire department in Bastrop to take some pictures. Looking at the car from a greater more distance, it really looks very stylish!

It had been a while since I drove the 1 Series Convertible, but I don’t recall that it offered as much fun as this new open-top Bimmer. The engine reacts eagerly on the pressure of your right foot and is fast enough to broaden the smile that is already on your face because it is so fun to feel the warm sunrays on your head.

With 350 Nm, or 258 pound-feet of torque, the acceleration is quick, although you can feel the added weight. BMW says the 228i should be able to accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 6.1 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250 km/155 mph. Our test route included bad road surfaces every now and then, but we didn’t notice any body movement, nor hear the slightest sound that engineers would rank among NVH (noise, vibration, harshness).

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2015 BMW 228i Convertible

We were able to select the same driving modes that are offered in the other BMW models. In Sport, the Cabrio feels sporty, reacting quickly to steering input; which is more direct in that setting. In Comfort mode, that is what you get: a nice comfortable, but always a dynamic and stable ride. The easyily recognizable blue colored M Sport brakes are an option on the 228i. Sport line also includes 18-inch wheels, in this case equipped with 225/40/18 up front and 245/35/18 Michelin Super Sport rubber in the rear.

Wrapping up, the new convertible is a dynamic car, which will suit customers looking for a drop top two-seater-plus to enjoy blue skies and fresh air. With the availability of xDrive all-wheel-drive, you can even live in areas with cold and white winters. In those areas, where gasoline prices are usually higher than in other states, they do not need to worry that much about fuel consumption. BMW has announced it will average up to 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg highway.

BMW said it sold more than 130 thousand units of the 1 Series Convertible. I guess this number will be considerably higher for the 2 Series Cabrio. However, with a starting price of $ 37,900 in the US for the 228i and from € 35,350 in Germany for the 220i, it still will be a rather exclusive model.

The new BMW Convertible will be offered, depending on the market, as the 218i with a 136 hp strong 1.6-liter 4-cilinder engine. The 220i, 220d and 228i are equipped with 2.0-liter 4-cilinder power plants with respectively 184, 190 hp and 245 hp. We tested the 228i with the 245 hp. For those who like the more sporty looks, there is the M package with a lowered suspension. For a truly sportive open top experience is the M235i with the 326 hp strong 3.0-liter 6-cilinder engine.

North America will get the 228i and M235i models, also available with xDrive. For the time being, the 220 diesel will only be available in Europe and Australia. The market launch of BMW’s new Convertible is scheduled for February 28th.