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BMW Takes the Top off its 4 Series

By Arv Voss, May 31st, 2014

BMW draws a line in the sand with the convertible market competition with the introduction of the 2014 4 Series convertible. Not only does the design language establish loftier standards, but so does its driving dynamics, visual appeal, and sheer motoring pleasure.

strong>The convertible's front end is striking: it displays characteristic BMW design features, such as the slightly forward-angled twin-kidney grille flanked by four round headlights and large air intake in the front fascia with integrated fog lamps.

New design elements on the 4 Series are the "Air Breathers" positioned aft of the front wheel arches to reduce drag. Both the convertible's muscular wheel arches and wide track serve up an aggressive stance, with prominent horizontal lines.

The roofline creates a smooth transition into the rear, while accentuating the sporty profile of the flanks. The frameless glass side windows create dynamic visual tension; below the windows, the double swage lines strengthen the body's wedge shape.

This all-new RWD convertible (AWD xDrive optional) is available in the 428i powered by a TwinPower Turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine starting at $49,675. The 435i draws its motive force from a TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that delivers 302 horsepower while developing 296 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,200 rpm.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard fare, while an eight-speed automatic or eight-speed Sports automatic are available. the Sports automatic allows the driver to manually change gears with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. All powertrains are equipped with an Auto Stop/Start function.

The 2014 BMW 4 Series convertible offers drivers the ability to choose between Sporty, Eco, or Comfort settings, depending on mood or preference. Using the Driving Experience Control switch with ECO PRO mode on the center console, drivers can select between ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT or SPORT+ (most models). Each of these selections activates different settings for the powertrain and suspension componentry.

The three-piece retractable hardtop raises or lowers within 20 seconds at speeds up to 11 mph at the push of a button. The convertible has plenty of trunk space, thanks to an electro-hydraulic loading assistance system that pivots to position the folded top assembly for maximum utilization of trunk space.

Inside, the convertible blends sporty styling along with typical BMW quality. All controls central to driving are arranged ergonomically around the driver providing ready access to all functions.

The horizontal lines of the instrument panel are dynamic, extending into the optional two-tone door and side panel trim and wrapping around the driver and front passenger. Recessed head restraints and molded side supports give the rear bench the appearance of two separate seats.

I was able to experience wheel time in the BMW 435i convertible with a Mineral White metallic exterior and Tan and Charcoal interior. The 435i's base price was set at $54,900.

The 435i obviously kicks out more power with its inline 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder motor than the 428i with its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Both engines feature Twin scroll turbochargers with high precision direct injection.

The 435i convertible is a delight to drive, with excellent acceleration capability and ideal on-center feel steering. The ride quality is planted, but compliant. Braking is positive as well. Handling characteristics are adjustable through the Driving Experience Control switch.

Individual equipment lines are available for both the interior and exterior, and buyers may choose the Sport, Modern, or Luxury Lines as alternatives to the standard specification, while M Sport provides yet another alternative, allowing for visible individualization.

The Sport, Modern, and Luxury Lines deliver different takes on the convertible's character, adapting the design and color scheme for the kidney grille and air intakes, exterior mirror caps, Air Breathers, trim strips in the front and rear fascias, door sill strips and range of wheel stylings to set the car apart externally from the basic trim level.

Specifications

Base price $54,900 (as tested: $55,825)
Curb weight 3,836 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 15.0 gal.
Horsepower (net) 302 at 5800 rpm
Motor type 24-valve TwinTurbo 6-cylinder w/DI
Overall length 182.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 295 at 1200-5000 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 4-passenger RWD compact convertible
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