2008 Detroit Auto Show: 2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible
What it Is
new cars: 2008 BMW 1 Series Convertible Preview – At BMW’s rather busy press conference, they saved the best for last: the 1 Series Convertible.Everything that is wonderful about the coupe is here, except in place of a fixed metal roof, there’s a folding cloth top. The 128i version will arrive first, sometime in the spring, with the 135i showing up later in the year. Drivetrains on both models are identical to the hardtop versions. Roll-over sensors keep track of the car’s position and can raise the behind-seat roll bars and activate the front seat belt tensioners and head airbags.Why it Matters
For BMW, this is a chance to capture buyers for whom the 3 Series cars were out of reach. It’s also being pitched as bringing in a model that’s supposed to epitomize what made the 2002 great: performance and good design. In this case, a convertible that’s a nod to the little sedan of the early 1970s. But if you’re thinking there’s a return to simplicity and spartan interiors, rest assured that the 1 will come with iDrive.
What’s Under the Hood
The 128i comes with the 2.8 liter inline six, which puts out 230 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 135i is powered by a twin-turbo, 3.5 liter inline six, which pumps out 300 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. Stability and traction control are standard and can be completely turned off. Active steering is an option. The 135’s stability control is more aggressively programmed and electronic rear brake management is setup to simulate a locking rear differential. With the soft top, the 135i accelerates to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds, compared with the hardtop’s time of 5.3 seconds.
What It Looks Like
Very much in keeping with BMW’s current styling. A sharp crease along the side contrasts with softer concave-convex lower door details, the hood is relatively long, the trunk relatively short. With the top up, the roof line changes somewhat and the Hofmeister “kink” disappears. The top folds into a portion of the rear deck. The 128i has an integral rear lip spoiler, while the 135i adds another lip spoiler for more downforce.
While the interior is the same as the coupe, there are some additional features to make open motoring more comfortable. The power top raises and lowers in 22 seconds, and can be lowered while the car is moving at speeds up to 25 mph. The climate control system adds a convertible mode, which takes outside conditions into account, and adjusts accordingly. BMW says that even with the top down, the 1 Series trunk can hold a couple of golf bags.
What BMW Says
“For those whose definition of pure driving pleasure includes wind in the face and sunshine above, the new BMW 1 Series Convertible follows the tradition established by the iconic BMW 2002 sport sedan. The essence of such driving purity - a responsive six-cylinder engine positioned within a rear-drive chassis to provide balanced, sporty dynamics - is at the heart of this compact four-place convertible.”
What We Think
A convertible version of BMW’s new coupe was practically a forgone conclusion. After all, the 3 Series has come as a drop-top through several generations. What can be better than a spirited drive on a mountain road in a fine handling car? A spirited drive in a fine handling convertible.
By Bob Beamesderfer
MyRide Road Test Editor
Photo Credit: Staff