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BMW's new flip-top raises roof in SA

2014-03-28 09:30

BMW 4 SERIES CONVERTIBLE: Hot stuff in more ways than one with a choice of three engines but a standard folding three-piece roof. Image: BMW


BMW’s next M4 convertible was spotted with minimal camouflage. Check out spy images of the upcoming M4 drop-top!


UMHLANGA, kwaZulu-Natal - Once upon a time you couldn’t buy a station wagon in SA – dead market. Now they’re called ‘crossovers’ and ‘lifestyle vehicles’ and everybody wants one.

The convertible, however, has never gone out of fashion.

Look, I don't want to be a killjoy but I'm one of those drivers who just doesn't believe South Africa has the climate for top-down motoring - Europe all the way up to Scotland, New Zealand, even Iceland (in summer, been there), yes, but mostly it’s just too bloody hot and dusty down here at the bottom of Africa.


As a third car after the requisite upmarket 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Toyota Prado/Range Rover, sure, if you're at that income stratum that's looking more for a tax haven than sex heaven, but even a young loving couple might question their top-down choice after a few facefulls of diesel exhaust or rude gestures from a passing maxitaxi.

Sure, there's the cachet of dropping the top and tooling off with an attractive partner (of either sex) for Sunday breakfast at Harties or Hout Bay, Hartenbos or Hectorspruit, Hermanus or, OK, perhaps not Hillbrow then... but always as soon as possible after dawn.

Which brings us to the BMW 4 Series Convertible just launched in South Africa during the same two-day event (late March 2014) in and around Umhlanga in KZN that saw the arrival of the awesome 2 Series Coupe.

Gotta hand it to the Men from Munich: the convertibles, slightly larger than the 3 Series, are beautiful; sexy with the top down and rigid with absobloodylutely no shake, rattle or roll with the three-part metal roof locked in place - or not, for that matter.

And sorry, but BMW says you can't have one until May 2014.

GALLERY: BMW 4 Series Convertible
VIDEO: BMW 4 Series Convertible

Dave Taylor (of cars.co.za fame) and I dropped into one of the test units and kept the already dropped top dropped until we were out of sight of our hotel, which happened to be the genteel and rather gentrified Beverly Hills Umhlanga, at which point a polite exchange:

'Er, do you want the top down then?' and 'No, not really, well, unless you do' and ‘Oh, you don't mind then if I put it, er, up...?' and 'Well, no, probably a good idea, actually' took place. We agreed the KZN sun might not be good for Taylor's naked freckles and seconds later we could hear the radio, feel the aircon breeze, and shirts lifted off sticky skin.

OK, having now probably dampened your ardour for open-air arrivisteing, let's tell you why you might in fact WANT to buy a BMW 4 Series Convertible... the “quotes” hereunder are direct from BMW.

“The three-piece retractable hardtop has advanced soundproofing with its noise-absorbing headliner, ensuring quietness and passenger comfort under all weather conditions – even winter.”


The roof is fully lined and has lights direct from a fixed-roof coupe and the low and sporty seats ensure more headroom and rear legroom than the previous model.

The wraparound interior design provides seating that allows all passengers to share the open-sky driving experience from seats that are electrically adjustable and can be supplied with recessed head restraints and neck-warmers for the driver and front passenger, an option for the first time on a BMW, I was told, though available on Mercedes flip-tops for some years.

The low and sporty seats exaggerate the headroom (become re-acquainted with the knees that were in your face for a many months in the womb); the rear seats can take normal adults.

Two petrol – each turbocharged - will be available for now: an in-line six petrol (BMW 435i Convertible) and a four-cylinder petrol (BMW 428i Convertible..

BMW 428i Convertible
6pd manual - R656 500
8spd Steptronic - R674 500
8spd Sports Steptronic - R679 500
BMW 435i Convertible
8spd Sports Steptronic - R809 000
Wheels24 failed to publish the prices in earlier versions of this report.
For the full price list see the BMW link at the bottom of this item.

"These state-of-the-art engines imbue the BMW 4 Series Convertible with outstanding acceleration and elasticity while intelligently reducing fuel consumption in compliance with the EU6 standard." - BMW


Torque is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual, extra-cost eight-speed auto or eight-speed Sports auto that allows the driver to change gears with shift paddles on the steering column. All transmissions have auto stop/start.

All-wheel drive will be available in Europe but NOT in South Africa, I was told after querying a mention in the media release, but in addition to the standard model, three specially equipped lines and an M Sport package are available. Sport, Modern and Luxury lines can be personalised with a bounty of interior and exterior accents.

BMW says the cars are unadulterated driving machines, larger than the similar 3 Series convertible and with a longer wheelbase, wider track and standard lower suspension. “An extremely low centre of gravity means  remarkable performance and handling.” - BMW

The automaker says the convertible's fuel economy is "outstanding - as it is across the whole 4 Series".

It's all to do with 'EfficientDynamics' - a combination of "optimised engines, intelligent lightweight construction, honed aerodynamics, auto start/stop, brake-energy regeneration, gear-shift indictor, on-demand operation of ancillary units and the Proactive Driving Assistant".

BMW reckons it can all add up to fuel savings of as much as 20%.


Other features in the cars include can include a new generation of satnav, full-colour BMW windscreen data display, the 'driving assistant' that warns of pedestrians ahead, a glare-free LED high-beam assistant, an 'attentiveness assistant and the latest development of active cruise-control (it slow or accelerates according to the traffic ahead).

So, grab the sunblock, give a lady guest a white silk scarf to blow in the breeze, and go for a test drive.

For more on the BMW 4 Series Convertible check this.

Read more on:    bmw  |  umhlanga

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