BMW lifts the lid on its latest convertible
The BMW 4 Series Convertible is shown in this undated photo. (BMW)
Published Tuesday, October 15, 2013 9:28AM EDT
Attempting to balance elegance with performance, the latest BMW convertible hasn't just had a name change, it is also lower, wider and longer and even has more luggage space.
Don't be confused by the badge. It may say 4 Series on the bootlid, but it is just BMW's way of separating practicality from performance. This is a 3 Series in everything but name and like each iteration of the small executive car with sporting aspirations, it is a noticeable improvement over the last generation.
As well as being slightly bigger for better road holding, each wheel has been pushed as far into the corner as possible for even greater maneuverability, whether in a multi-story carpark or on a track. The folding metal roof is faster (closed to open in 20 seconds) and better insulated, and rear legroom has been improved.
The company has taken a leaf out of Mercedes' book by introducing what are essentially built-in neck heaters. Called 'Air Collars', they are integrated into the front seats and waft warm air around the occupants' necks on days when the roof is down but the air is crisp. For several years now, Mercedes has offered what it calls air scarves that perform exactly the same function on its most premium of premium soft tops.
Under the hood, when the car launches next year, owners will be able to specify one of two in-line, six-cylinder gasoline engines (a 3.5-liter and a 2.8-liter) and a turbo diesel model. But of course, a serious, fire-breathing M edition will no doubt be coming in due course.
For those who can't wait for the official 'M' car, BMW will offer an ‘M' Sport model which will have firmer springs and dampers, better brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels and red leather sports seats as standard.
However, it is the levels of standard equipment that will make most existing BMW customers happiest. Despite its ability to innovate and the range of features and optional extras the company offers, BMW has a reputation for being very stingy when it comes to offering something for free. But, for the 4 Series at least, parking sensors, heated leather seats, cruise control, and an in-car multimedia screen and phone set up will all come as standard.
Of course, on top of the standard fare, BMW is also offering five different levels of trim and options so that keen drivers can tailor their rides to suit their style and their needs.
After its LA Auto Show debut in November, the BMW 4 Series convertible will go on sale in Europe and the US in March 2014 with prices starting at $49,675 for the diesel variant.