TOPLESS 2 SERIES IN SA: 'It’s a real Bavarian beauty – topless or otherwise,' writes FERDI DE VOS as he tests the new 2 Series convertible. Image: BMW ~ Supplied
BYWORD FOR SPORTY
Zwei, the number, also gave the game away for BMW, but in a good sense, as it was the brilliant two-door sedan range that established the Bavarian automaker’s sporty credentials more than 45 years ago…
Introduced in 1966, this series became a byword for sporty, agile handling – and from 1967 could also be enjoyed with the roof down when coachbuilder Karosserie Baur developed soft-top variants which remained in production until 1975.
IMAGE GALLERY: 2015 BMW 2 Series convertible
It now occupies a special place in the rich heritage of BMW, with the latest topless model from Munich following in the tracks of the BMW 1 Series Convertible, the undisputed leader in its class with more than 130 000 sales worldwide.
With the recent decision by BMW to split its sedan and coupe models into separate classes, the development of the new 2 Series virtually followed the same route as its illustrious ancestor.
It first appeared as a two-door coupe, but the drop-top version was developed in parallel.
LOST IN TRANSLATION?
We’ve already lauded the coupe version for its sharp, taut design and superior dynamics, its agility and efficiency, its driving comfort, functionality and innovative equipment features.
So, the question is: Was anything lost in the translation from coupe to convertible body type?
First, let’s reiterate that this variant, like the 2 Series Coupe, occupies very different ground from its 1 Series forerunner, while taking its good qualities to another level.
It shares the coupe’s typical BMW proportions so, compared to the 1 Series Convertible, it is 72mm longer, 26mm wider, and has a 30mm longer wheelbase and a wider track... front (41mm) and rear (43mm). Luggage volume is greater by 30 litres to 335 with the top closed or by 20 litres to 280 litres with the top down. The rear loading hatch is 35mm wider.
With elegantly stretched lines, a flat silhouette with a pronounced swage line and sculpted rear wheel arches, it’s a real Bavarian beauty.
The powered fabric top is new for improved insulation and optimised acoustic comfort. It can be opened and closed in 20 seconds at up to 50km/h and is available in three colours: black (standard), anthracite with silver effect and brown with silver effect (optional).
Torsional rigidity has been increased by around 20% compared with its predecessor, and bending rigidity is up by 10%. While not as rigid as the coupe, its stiffness is impressive for a ragtop.
It bests the competition aerodynamically and, with its optimised weight distribution due to lightweight design, the 2 Series Convertible in terms of handling dynamics doesn’t lose out much to its coupe counterpart.
Like the tin-top, it has outstanding agility and impressive ride comfort thanks to balanced axle load distribution and a sophisticated chassis with a double-joint spring strut front axle and five-link rear axle.
Variable sport steering, M Sport brakes and Adaptive M suspension are optional, while all the models come standard with DSC stability control, DTC and Active Differential Brake (ADB-Sport).
IT’S BRAWNY, TOO...
The convertible is not only attractive; it has the brawn to go with the looks. Available with Munich’s two-litre, four-cylinder, petrol engines with TwinPower Turbo technology the entry-level 220i is good for 135kW and 270Nm of torque; the 228i delivers 180kW and 350Nm.
The M235i, expected in April 2015, claims new benchmarks for power and precision in its segment; its three-litre, six-cylinder, in-line engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology delivers 240kW and 450Nm from as little as 1300rpm.
It’s indecently quick, scooting to 100km/h in just over six seconds, while it takes the 228i a second longer to achieve this. The 220i needs 7.5 seconds (manual) to achieve the same.
In standard guise power is channelled to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox; the eight-speed Steptronic transmission (the M gets the Sport version with Launch Control) is available as an option.
They are frugal and efficient too, with an average EU fuel consumption of between 7 and 6.8litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 163-159g/km for the 228i, while the 220i consumes between 6.9 and 6.5 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 161-152g/km.
TOPLESS MAYBE, BUT FULLY KITTED
While it may lose its top sometimes the Convertible is fully kitted inside. It has BMW’s signature convertible “boat deck” look thanks to harmoniously flowing shoulder line, along with the rollover bar concealed behind rear head restraints.
High-quality materials with model-specific accents and equipment lines (Advantage, Luxury Line, Sport Line and M Sport) feature in the driver-focused cockpit, now with high-gloss black surfaces around the radio and newly designed climate control display.
Extensive BMW EfficientDynamics technology, including air curtains, Eco-Pro and auto start-stop function, plus equipment such as USB audio interface, BMW Professional radio, iDrive operating system with Control Display in flat screen design, and climate control with convertible mode are standard.
It is also the first BMW model with the option of over-the-air navigation updates via the vehicle’s built-in SIM card, and features an extended range of driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive.
It seems good looks and convertibility won’t cost you much less than half a bar…
In standard trim the 220i is available for R486 500, the 228i is yours for R525 000.The M235i drop-top will cost you R643 500 in manual guise and just over R20 000 more for the Steptronic version.
Our choice? For sure the 228i with manual box… However, we suspect the best-seller will be the 220i with auto sport transmission and M Sport package (R517 400).
PRICES (MAN / AUTO)
BMW 2 Series Convertible
220i - R486 500 (R504 500)*
228i - R525 000 (R543 000)*
M235i - R643 500 (R663 600)*
Prices include BMW’s five-year or 100 000km Motorplan maintenance contract and BMW On Call service.