BMW 2 Series Convertible review
BMW 2 Series convertible replaces the old 1 Series soft-top with more pace, efficiency and a big injection of style, too
Style is all-important in the compact cabriolet sector and the new BMW 2 Series Convertible adds an element of sleek, sharp design that we haven’t seen before to the firm’s small soft-top range, making it a stronger rival than ever for the Audi A3 Cabriolet.
This new-found sense of style doesn’t detract from the driving experience, though, as the 2 Series Convertible is still great fun to drive. There’s bags of grip on offer, plenty of feedback from the chassis and a reasonably comfortable ride that mean this is an impressive all-rounder.
To improve the 2 Series Convertible’s handling BMW has added extra strengthening, making the body shell 20 per cent stiffer than the old 1 Series Convertible it replaced. This means body wobble is kept to a minimum, again, aiding performance and refinement.
Practicality isn’t too bad for a small convertible, with a good sized boot and two small rear seats to offer extra space. Most of the interior is carried over from the 2 Series Coupe, meaning the Convertible is a comfortable cruiser, helped by a new triple-layer insulated roof that keeps road roar down.
There are four engines to choose from, but it’s the 220d that is the one to go for – still with plenty of pace (matching the similarly-priced 220i petrol), but returning over 60mpg.
There’s now a seriously hot 2 Series Convertible in the form of the M235i, too. With a 322bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine it’s pricey, but quick, covering 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds.
The fourth engine choice for now is the sprightly if not super-quick 228i, which gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine. There are Sport, Luxury and M-Sport trim levels available that add extra equipment and even more style, plus that M-Performance version at the top of the range.
Our choice: BMW 220d Sport
The 2 Series Convertible is one of the prettiest BMWs we’ve seen for a while. The traditional BMW kidney grille is flanked by wide, slim headlights, with bold air intakes underneath the bonnet that give it a more aggressive look. This is not a soft, cute-looking cabriolet.
Neat creases in the bonnet lead down to the grille, while lines along the side of the car rise up to accentuate the car’s sportiness. There’s also a neat belt line that runs from the front of the cabin all the way around the back of the car that again makes the 2 Series look lower and longer. At the back, wider rear lights compared to the 1 Series, with BMW’s L-shaped light signature, help to make the car look sportier.
The interior is beautifully put together, but not as stylish as an Audi A3 – there are too many lines and different materials to make it look truly cohesive.
Performance from all engines is strong and smooth, while even on the sportier settings of M-Sport cars, the ride feels firm but not uncomfortable – the days of really harsh-riding BMWs appear to be over.
More important is the extra strengthening the cabrio gets to make up for the lack of a roof has really imbued the car with a strong, solid feel – there was hardly a hint of body wobble over our test route that included some pretty poor surfaces.
The steering is nicely weighted and full of feel, while there’s plenty of grip and a nice balance to the handling – thanks in no small part to the perfect 50:50 weight distribution front to back and BMW’s traditional front-engined rear-wheel drive layout giving the driver plenty of confidence to push the car.
A 10th place finish for BMW in our annual Driver Power satisfaction survey is a pretty good showing, but BMW’s dealers didn’t do as well ranking in 21st spot. We’d expect the 2 Series Convertible to be fairly reliable, though, as the mechanicals are well proven in the 2-Series Coupe and 1 Series, so any gremlins should have been ironed out by now.
Pop-up roll-over hoops behind the rear headrests will protect the car in a fraction of a second if sensors think the car’s about to roll over, while the side airbags will also protect the head in a side impact. There are also numerous other safety features as standard or on the options list.
Although there’s plenty of room for the driver, plus good seat and steering adjustment to get a great driving position, rear passengers get a raw deal. With the rear seats shuffled forward compared to the Coupé to make way for the hood mechanism and storage, there’s very little legroom – even kids will feel cramped.
There are only two seats back there, too. Climbing in and out isn’t the easiest in spite of the doors opening wider, especially with the hood up. Boot space at 280 litres when the hood’s folded away is pretty miserly. With the roof up you get 335 litres, which isn’t much more than in a supermini, while the shape of the boot is a bit awkward.
The 2 Series Cabrio isn’t a cheap car to buy, with prices starting from £26,045 for the entry-level 218i SE model and rising to £37,710 for the range-topping M235i. However, running costs shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Even the high-performance M235i claims an average of 35.8mpg with the optional Sport Automatic gearbox – pretty impressive in a car that will get from 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds. The diesel claims over 60mpg, with low CO2 figures of 116g/km for the automatic, making it a tempting company car choice.
Private buyers should always take advantage of BMW’s pre-paid annual servicing packs when they buy their cars – it makes servicing at BMW main dealers much more affordable.