BMW 4 Series Convertible 2017 review

The BMW 4 Series Convertible has been updated for 2017. We test it in 430i M Sport guise to see if it's improved

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The BMW 430i Convertible sits in a middle ground where neither its performance nor its ability seems worthy of the price tag. Although down on power, the cheaper 420i is almost as capable – offering much better value for money overall. Having said that, if your budget can stretch to the flagship 440i model, you’ll be able to see, feel and hear exactly where your extra cash has gone.

The BMW 4 Series range – made up of the Coupe, Gran Coupe and Convertible – has been around since 2013, with over 400,000 examples sold globally during that time. The convertible has always lagged behind its stablemates in the sales charts, but has a recent round of updates made it a more appealing proposition? We’ve driven it in the UK for the first time to find out.

BMW clearly didn’t believe there was anything wrong with how the 4 Series looked, because on the face of it very little has changed. Its recognisable front end now features slightly larger air intakes, a subtle new bumper and twin LED headlamps. In fact, it remains a sharp-looking car, but still lacks the sleek silhouette of the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet.

Best convertible cars on sale

Tweaks have also been made to the model lineup. The core 420i and 420d models remain, while new 430i and 440i petrol editions added to the range. It’s the former we’re driving here, in standard M Sport trim.

Previously, the 430i badge would have meant a tuneful 3.0-litre staright-six under the bonnet, but fold back the roof, hit the throttle and what you hear isn’t the sonorous motor of old. Instead, it’s a tuned version of the smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine from the cheaper 420i. 

In the 430i, it develops 249bhp and 350Nm of torque – that’s a healthy 67bhp and 70Nm advantage over the 420i. As you’d expect it sits squarely between the entry-level convertible and top-spec 440i in terms of performance, with BMW claiming a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. And it plugs the gap on price, too, priced at £43,180 when fitted with BMW’s slick eight-speed automatic gearbox. A manual model is available, and slashes £1,390 from the list price. 

The engine in our car is a strong performer with plenty of low down grunt, making it feel every bit as quick as BMW claims. As well as cranking up the performance from the 2.0-litre turbo, engineers have installed some exhaust trickery to try and make the Convertible sound like it has the engine its badge deserves. There are a few burbles when you lift of the throttle, and a mild rasp at the top end, but there’s no hiding the thrashy four-cylinder engine note buried beneath it all.

Other than the shaving two seconds from its 0-62mph time, it’s difficult to see where the near-£3,000 premium has gone. The 430i is the sharpest car in its class thanks to precise steering and a beautifully balanced chassis, but it’s no more accomplished than the basic model. It ushers you down the road marginally quicker and makes a slightly fruitier, if somewhat contrived noise, but that’s about it.

When it comes to the best all-rounders, there are more talented options out there, too. The Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class cabriolets are both quieter cruisers and feel more upmarket thanks to their plusher cabins and premium trim. In this respect, the 4 Series range is beginning to feel a little dated despite the recent update. 

Other sacrifices are to be made if you go for the 4 Series Convertible – especially when it comes to practicality. The boot is a reasonable 370 litres with the roof in place, but problems arise when you want to drop it. Doing so sees luggage capacity shrink to just 220 litres. Compare that to the 380 litres the Audi offers even when the roof has been lowered, and it’s another minus point for the compromised BMW. 

Most Popular

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle
Volkswagen T7 Multivan - front
Volkswagen Caravelle

New 2021 Volkswagen T7 Multivan replaces Caravelle

The Volkswagen T7 Multivan MPV switches to the MQB platform and adds plug-in hybrid technology
10 Jun 2021
LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini
LEC MINI Electric
MINI

LEC launches affordable EV conversion for classic Mini

The conversion sees the Mini’s A-Series engine replaced with a dinky electric motor and a 20kWh battery for a range of 70 miles in the city
10 Jun 2021
New Toyota Land Cruiser 300 revealed with six-cylinder petrol and diesel power
Toyota Land Cruiser - front
Toyota Land Cruiser

New Toyota Land Cruiser 300 revealed with six-cylinder petrol and diesel power

Six-cylinder engine line-up and clever new suspension tech for the new large Toyota Land Cruiser, but it’s not destined for the UK
9 Jun 2021
New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time
Vauxhall Astra teaser 1
Vauxhall Astra

New 2021 Vauxhall Astra teased for the first time

The new Vauxhall Astra will get electrified powertrains and a more premium image
8 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp
Tesla Model S facelift - front
Tesla Model S

New 2021 Tesla Model S Plaid launched with 1,006bhp

Range-topping version of the Tesla Model S officially unveiled, with a sprint time of 0-60mph in less than two seconds
10 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
New Genesis G80 2021 review
Genesis G80
Genesis G80

New Genesis G80 2021 review

Is the new Genesis G80 a worthy competitor in the executive saloon segment?
9 Jun 2021
New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2021 review
Mercedes E 300 Cabriolet - front
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet

New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet 2021 review

The soft-top Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet gets the same updates as the saloon and estate variants
10 Jun 2021
'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'
Car manufacturing
Opinion

'Factories are at a standstill because they can’t get the parts to finish cars'

Steve Fowler points out the fresh issues facing global car manufacturing
9 Jun 2021
New 2021 BMW X4 facelift arrives with new look inside and out
BMW X4 - front tracking
BMW X4

New 2021 BMW X4 facelift arrives with new look inside and out

The updated BMW X4 line-up gets a new look and now comes with hot petrol and diesel options
8 Jun 2021
New 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe breaks cover
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe - front
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe

New 2021 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe breaks cover

The new second-generation BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe adds four-door coupe style to the 4 Series range
8 Jun 2021
Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features
Audi S5
Audi

Audi updates line-up for 2022 with new tech and trim features

Almost every car in Audi’s line-up has received a tweak, with major updates including Amazon Alexa integration and a Sonos stereo
11 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Grandland SUV unveiled with fresh design and tech boost
Vauxhall Grandland - front action
Vauxhall Grandland X

New Vauxhall Grandland SUV unveiled with fresh design and tech boost

The heavily facelifted Vauxhall Grandland family SUV gets Visor design cues and plug-in hybrid power
8 Jun 2021