BMW 420d SE Convertible
What is it?
BMW’s glamorous new convertible with a folding steel top. Although the men in Munich call it a convertible, it is what others term a coupe cabriolet.
Isn’t this what used to be known as the 3 Series Convertible?
Yes, this is indeed that car’s successor, by another name. It’s part of BMW’s ongoing badge rationalisation. So all the derivative models – the coupes and drop-tops – now wear badges one up from the mainstream model. Hence the 3 Series saloon, but the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Coupe, based on the same chassis.
Glad we cleared that up.
So what is it like?
Dynamically similar to the 3 Series Saloon, which is widely praised for its excellence behind the wheel.
The Convertible does not have quite the same pin-sharp precision, with the extra weight of the folding roof structure (it weighs in at 200kg more than a 4 Series Coupe) but it comes very close.
This is a precision-engineered, well-mannered car, responsive and enjoyable to drive. It has taut handling and it also rides well.
That extra weight must affect the performance?
Not unduly. The 420d is the definitive business version, with BMW’s excellent two-litre, 187PS turbodiesel engine. The car is capable of double the British legal limit, and more importantly it sprints past 60 mph in around eight seconds.
The cabin is snug, but this is no skimpy 2+2, it is a full four seater with reasonable space in the back. Top up, the boot is 370 litres, but that reduces to 220 litres when the roof concertinas down into the top of the boot space. The hood is quick, it takes 20 seconds to lower or raise, and it can also be operated on the move at walking pace, up to eight mph.
Yes, but loading the boot of this kind of coupe cabriolet is such a pain when the top’s down, isn’t it?
Well no, actually, not with this one. It has a clever feature: there is a switch on the bootlid that lets you lift the mechanism up out of the way, temporarily, for ease of loading. It’s a really clever arrangement, and so much easier than having to raise the roof just to shove a business trip bag into the boot.