BMW 435i M Sport Convertible – Review
By Liam Bird
First some bad news: You can’t buy a new BMW 3 series convertible anymore, BMW no-longer makes them. But, I here you cry, “That’s what you’ve been driving. That’s what I’m reading about now. Just look at the pictures!”
Allow me to explain: BMW now use even numbers on their coupes and convertibles, and odd numbers on their saloons. Well, on their mid-size executive cars at least. Their recently launched 2-Series is a front-wheel drive 5 door MPV type thingy. And then there’s the X4, which is, according to BMW at least, a 5-door Coupe SUV crossover. But they are (both) another story…
Anyway, as I was saying, the 3-series tag is now for cars that have 4-doors, and the 4-Series tag is for cars that all have 2-doors. So, by definition then, the new 4-Series Convertible – the car you see here – is the replacement for the out-going 3 series convertible. You see? Easy-peasy!
To be exact, the car you see in front of you is the 435i M Sport Convertible and it’s probably the most handsome of either the current 3 or 4-series variants. Viewed side-on it looks like an enlarged 1-series coupe (isn’t that a 2-door coupe with an odd number?), which in my book is no bad thing. And, from its aggressive looking trademark kidney grille, to its flared rear wheel-arches, it’s unmistakably the work of the men from Munich. Sitting on its standard fit 19” rims and with its folding 3-piece metal roof up it looks just like (and offers the same security as) a “proper” hard-top when the weather’s bad; better still, it’s every-inch the 4–seater boulevardier when the sun decides to shine.
Inside it’s BMW business as usual. There’s near-perfect ergonomics, beautifully clear black-on-white dials and soft touch materials, all confirming the age-old stereotype of Germanic precision-engineered quality. However if your looking for a little ‘glitter’, look elsewhere. Even the brushed aluminium trim and red leather seats of our test car did little to lift an interior which, when fitted with a near-black headlining, felt somewhat dour. And, dare I say it… more than just a tad dated too.
You might be willing to overlook that though when you take a glance at the rest of this car’s spec: 3.0 litre 6 cylinder engine, 8-speed auto-‘box, 302bhp, 0-62 in 5.5 seconds, improved rear seat and boot space. It all sounds very tempting. And so it should. A 4-series drop-top starts at £45, 470 and to get one as well-appointed as the one BMW lent me you’ll need to fork out another not inconsiderable £10K on options.
“Steering is beautiful”
For those kind of figures it wouldn’t be in the least bit presumptuous to expect something that delivered at least a little of BMW’s promise; they’ve been claiming to be the builders of The Ultimate Driving Machine for longer than I dare to remember. And, up to a point, the 435i does deliver. On smooth surfaces and in sweeping curves its front-engined rear-wheel drive set-up offers near perfect balance.
The steering quite simply is beautiful. But, there’s no getting away from it: this car feels heavy. That aforementioned folding lid adds 225kg to the overall weight. As a result the way the 435i Convertible reacts to your inputs feels numbed and blunted. It never sounds particularly sporting either, which is also a little disappointing, especially for a straight 6. And that extra weight affects the fuel economy too, although I suppose 36.7 combined isn’t so bad all things considered.
“Almost too relaxed”
As a relaxed, comfortable and sophisticated looking cruiser it works well, and yet when it comes down to it the 435i convertible is not the kind of BMW you’d choose to tackle your favourite mountain pass if things suddenly became urgent. Sport Mode and even Sport+ mode never really live-up to the level of expectancy their names, or the M-sport moniker, promise.
All-in-all the 435i is beautifully built, effortlessly stylish and more than just a little bit desirable – all the things you’d expect from a BMW drop-top. Yet somehow it’s almost too relaxed, too smooth, for its own good. If only the same could be said for the bloke that’s been driving it all week.
BMW 435i M Sport Convertible
Engine: 2979cc 6Cyl 24V petrol turbo
Transmission: 8 speed automatic, rear wheel drive
Power: 302 bhp @5800- 6000 rpm
Torque: 295 lbft @1200- 5000rpm
0-62MPH: 5.5 Sec
Max Speed: 155 mph
CO2: 176 g/km
MPG: 36.7 combined
Price: from £45,470 (car driven: £55,665)