What is it?
The drop-top version of the M235i Coupe, which was undoubtedly one of our favourite real-world cars of 2014. It’s the most potent model in the new 2 Series Convertible line-up, which picks up where the previous 1 Series Convertible left off.
It carries a £3175 premium over the equivalent Coupe version, which pays for a retractable fabric roof that can be activated in 20 seconds at speeds up to 31mph.
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Engine, performance and 0-60 times
The Convertible shares the Coupe’s 321bhp turbocharged straight-six, with the same six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The car tested here was fitted with the excellent ZF eight-speed automatic ‘box, which serves so effectively across the BMW range and beyond.
With the loss of the fixed roof comes a reduction in torsional rigidity and an increase in kerb weight by some 150kg, most of which is made up of additional structural bracing. That has blunted straight-line performance slightly; the Convertible requires 5.2 seconds to reach 62mph, whereas the Coupe manages the sprint in 5.0. Top speed is still 155mph.
What’s it like to drive?
This being the sporting M Performance model – a line that sits just below the full-heat M range – the ride quality is a little fidgety over all but the smoothest of roads, but it’s not enough to be a deal breaker. The car still feels inherently well-balanced, so it works both the front and rear axles equally hard through corners. Despite the extra weight this is still an agile and well-poised car, which can be persuaded to take up a little attitude under power at corner exit.
The problems arise when the driver pushes a little harder. Over bumpy roads it’s actually possible to see the steering wheel and rear view mirror shake and shimmy as the whole structure flexes. That loss of torsional rigidity gives the car a pervading sense of fragility, and it also means that there just isn’t the same precision and immediacy of response as in the Coupe.
The electric steering also lacks that car’s crispness and consistency of weighting – at times it feels a little sticky, at others very alert and jumpy.
The drivetrain remains excellent, however, with a broad torque band and sharp throttle response. You’d have to be familiar with both M235i models to identify any meaningful loss of straight-line performance.
The new fabric roof cuts wind noise quite markedly compared to the old 1 Series Convertible, but when lowered the cabin is a blustery place without the wind deflector in place.
Anything else I need to know?
The M235i Convertible is a very pretty car, particularly from the front. The shape works well as a Convertible, too, which will surely make this car a hit with the image conscious – it certainly serves them better than it does driving enthusiasts.
The cabin, meanwhile, is straight from the BMW gene pool, which means an attractive if unadventurous design and, for the most part, good build quality and finish. The iDrive infotainment interface is also the most intuitive system of its type on the market.
Price and release date
The M235i convertible will start at £37,710 for the manual and is £39,255 for the sport auto transmission variant. It is available to order now and goes on sale on the 28th of February.
The M235i Convertible is sure to be a hit with certain buyers, but driving enthusiasts are much better served by the brilliant Coupe.
|Engine||inline-six, 3.0-litre, twin-turbo|
|Torque||331 lb ft|