2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review
Sleek, powerful, smooth, and graceful. These highly coveted attributes, when found all in one place typically also accompany yet another attribute—expensive. And, true to form, the 2014 BMW 435i Convertible numbers that quality on its ledger as well.
Now, with that said, the newest convertible in BMW’s lineup does a wonderful job of earning its keep. Affording year-round protection with its folding hard top, offering a nice blend of luxury and performance attributes, and above all, pleasing your eye whenever you gaze upon it, this BMW emerged from the assembly line as one of the most desirable automobiles on the market today.
Just as the 4 Series Coupe is larger than the 3 Series Coupe it replaced, the 4 Series Convertible is more generous of dimension as well. And yes, its driving dynamics have moved a bit more toward the comfort end of the spectrum too. However, more comfortable does not mean less capable, as the 4 Series Convertible is every inch a BMW through and through.
It’s just more sophisticated in terms of the ways it does things.
Which ways? Read on…
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Models & Pricing
For the 2014 model year, the BMW 4 Series Convertible, which went on sale in March, is being offered in three model ranges and three states of trim. The base model is the 428i Convertible, which starts at $48,750. The next model up is the 428i xDrive Convertible, with a base price $50,750. Topping the range is the 435i Convertible, which starts at $54,900. A destination and handling charge of $925 is added to each of those prices.
Standard features include a power-retractable folding hardtop, a wind blocker, xenon headlights, foglights, a set of auto-dimming exterior rear-view mirrors, power adjustable front seats, driver memory settings, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with a tilt-and-telescoping column, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, BMW's iDrive comfort and convenience interface, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephone connectivity, BMW Assist, a CD player, a USB/iPod interface port, an auxiliary audio input jack, and HD radio.
The three trim packages are Sport Line, Luxury Line, and M Sport.
Sport Line 4 Series models bump the base price by $1,550 and are characterized by high gloss black trim and a sport suspension package (for the rear drive 435i and 428i variants). The Sport Line package also uses an 18-inch twin-spoke aluminum alloy wheel for the 428s and a 19-inch wheel for the 435s. The kidney grille’s nine slats are finished in black. Completing the blacked-out look is a black trim strip for the rear apron, and a set of black exhaust tips. Black and red trim adorns the interior, along with a set of sport seats for the driver and front passenger.
Luxury Line models add $1,400 to the base price and feature eleven slats in the kidney grille with high-gloss chrome trim. The Sport Line’s black apron trim is replaced by chrome and the exhaust tips are finished in chrome as well. The Luxury Line’s aluminum alloy wheels feature eleven spokes. Again, an 18-inch wheel is fitted to the 428i, while the 435i gets 19-inch wheels. The chrome theme continues inside the car, along with high gloss wood trim and prominent stitching in the leather seats. This is the package with which our test car was equipped.
The M Sport package adds $2,600 to the base price and adds the Sport Line’s black trim to a BMW M aero kit, a five-spoke alloy wheel, M doorsill finishers, an M leather steering wheel, and an M-logoed driver’s footrest. Rear drive models get a more aggressively tuned M Sport suspension configuration and M Sport brakes too. The braking system is identifiable by dint of its blue calipers.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Design
Longer, larger and wider than the 3 Series Convertible it replaces, the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible nonetheless retains the short front and rear overhangs characteristic of every BMW model. Further, the pronounced rear fender flares emphasize the car’s predominately rear-drive nature—while also hinting at its exceptional performance capability.
Other elements making the model immediately recognizable are its long hood, set back passenger compartment, and short rear deck. Similarly, the double kidney grilles and four round headlights mark the 4 Series as a definite member of the BMW family. The traditional BMW wedge shape is still there as well, though it is now more full in proportion. To our eye, it makes the car look more substantive, but we can see how some might decry it as looking somewhat chubby too.
Specific to the model are a forward slant to the grilles and the way the headlight treatment flows into the grille surrounds—giving the appearance of a single piece. There are functional elements to the design as well. As an example, the supplementary air intakes on either side of the car beneath the front bumper route air around the front wheels to reduce their wind resistance.
The folding hardtop disappears into the trunk in 20 seconds, and can be operated from outside of the car using the remote. It can also be activated while the car is in motion, at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour. There are cutlines aplenty interrupting the flow of its design, but all in all, the roof is rather tastefully handled.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
The 4 Series Convertible is a BMW, so it almost goes without saying the instrumentation is practically chatty in its communicativeness. Further, the steering wheel is nicely sized, with precisely positioned thumb grips, and the shifter practically reaches out and takes your hand. Even better, the shape of the shifter so perfectly conforms to the contours of your grip, you’ll feel almost as if you were born holding it.
Prominently perched atop the dash is the iDrive system’s 8.8-inch widescreen display monitor. BMW was one of the first manufacturers to leave the display fixed in place, rather making it retract into the dash. As a design element, it looks pretty much at home. Just beneath the monitor are the central outlets for the climate control system, the audio system and the controls for the heater and A/C. The layout is quite utilitarian, if not exactly flamboyant. The look is one of quality, rather than style for style’s sake.
Arrayed to sides of the transmission’s shift lever are the drive mode selection and parking sensor switches on the left, and the iDrive controller on the right. The controller now features a touch sensitive pad, allowing you to make adjustments and inputs simply by swiping your finger across it.
The top’s control switch is located just aft of the shifter.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
The Convertible’s new seat design features an integrated seat belt. This prevents wind noise around the belt when the car is open and in motion. Further, it ensures optimal placement of the belt because it moves with the seat. This configuration simultaneously enhances both the comfort and safety of the BMW’s occupants.
Also included in the front seats (as an option) are air vents just beneath the headrests for routing warm air on the necks of the driver and front passenger. Controlled by switches next to the top control button, these expand the top-down opportunities for 4 Series Convertible considerably.
While rear seat legroom is largely dependent upon the driver and front passenger’s propensity for generosity, the 4 Series Convertible can comfortably seat four adults for moderately long trips. The rear seat uses a traditional bench design, but a “console” featuring cup holders and a storage tray sized to contain smaller items divides it into accommodations for two.
In one of the cleverest instances of packaging we’ve seen, the 4 Series Convertible’s wind blocker has a storage compartment inside the rear seatbacks. A button next to the rear headrest causes the seatback to fold forward, revealing the wind blocker stowed in its specially designed port. Very cool!
The roof retracts into the trunk when it isn’t deployed. As you might well imagine, doing so reduces its cargo capacity considerably. And while you won’t fit large suitcases back there with the top down, soft luggage for a couple to do a weekend getaway should fit just fine. And, of course there is always the option of running the car closed until you reach your destination—if maximizing the cargo capacity is a priority.
To make loading and unloading the trunk easier when the top is stowed, the BMW features a “loading assistance” function. At the touch of a button, the top raises slightly while remaining folded to enable the placement and removal of items. There are also two storage areas on either side of the roof where smaller items can be transported with the roof retracted. With the roof deployed, the 4 Series Convertible offers 13 cubic feet of cargo capacity. With the roof stowed, the trunk will accommodate 7.8 cubic feet of stuff. BMW’s spokespeople say this is sufficient to handle two golf bags.
We don’t play, so we can’t say.
Our tennis racquets fit nicely though.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings
In addition to the usual array of airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control, automatic collision notification, and rollover protection, BMW has outfitted the 4 Series Convertible with a broad selection of available tech to improve its safety potential.
One of the notable features of the stability control system is the capability of drying the brakes in wet weather. It does this by wiping the rotors dry with the pads at preselected intervals. It will also snug the pads up to the rotors when the driver lifts off the throttle suddenly in anticipation of an emergency braking situation.
BMW Assist emergency communications is also standard equipment. This service includes automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle recovery, and on-demand roadside assistance.
Optional features include an Active Driving Assistant to warn of a possible collision with pedestrians—and institute braking if the driver doesn’t respond in time,a full-color Head-Up Display,Lane Departure Warning, and Active Cruise Control with a Stop & Go function. You can also get Active Blind Spot Monitoring and Detection, Park Distance Control, and full-LED headlights with a High Beam Assistant. BMW further offers Surround View, Side View, and Top View Cameras, in addition to the company’s Parking Assistant self-parking function.
Neither NHTSA, nor the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety has reported crash test results the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Engine(s) & Fuel Economy
As the model nomenclatures suggest, two engines are offered to power the 2014 BMW 4 Series convertible here in the United States.
The 428i uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder, producing 241 horsepower and 258 ft-lbs. of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shifting mode is offered as standard equipment, although a six-speed manual is also available as a no-cost option. BMW quotes a zero to 60 of just over six seconds with the automatic transmission. Top speed is limited to 130 miles per hour. The EPA says to expect something along the lines of 23 miles per gallon in the city, 35 on the highway, and 27 combined with the automatic transmission.
The 435i runs a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a turbocharger. This powerplant is rated at 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, although it feels considerably more powerful. The same transmission choices are offered as for the 2.0-liter turbo, however all-wheel drive is not offered with the six-cylinder engine. With the automatic transmission, BMW quotes a zero to 60 of just over five seconds; top speed is limited to 130 miles per hour with this engine as well. Fuel economy is rated at 22 in the city, 32 on the highway, and 25 miles per gallon combined—again with the automatic transmission.
While both engines prefer premium-unleaded fuel, they are also equipped with a start/stop function to help keep consumption to a minimum.
All-wheel drive is available to team with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine—but not with the 3.0-liter six-cylinder. The all-wheel drive system and the manual transmission are said to have only minor consequences for the generally outstanding fuel economy potential of the 4 Series BMW convertible.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
Driving our test 435i Convertible was like riding down the highway on a magic carpet. BMW models are renowned for the silken smoothness of their operation, and frankly, there is no other car in this class capable of displaying the level of sophistication the BMW 4 Series Convertible brings to the fore. Every aspect of the car, from the way its engine wound, to the way it absorbed pavement irregularities, exhibited exceptional polish.
Further, our 435i Convertible displayed power and athleticism in commensurate measure.
Acceleration was outstanding, with a fluidly sonorous engine note encouraging us to let the BMW run faster and faster and faster. On our test track, the engine pulled solidly from launch, all the way to its artificially imposed top speed of 130 miles per hour. Further, it did so with absolute grace and enthusiasm. The experience of accelerating a BMW inline six-cylinder powered car to its top speed is one of the most remarkable automotive encounters you will ever have.
On the highway, you have to be very mindful of the speedometer, as the car is always going faster than your senses indicate. The combination of easy power, a smooth ride, and the exceptionally competent manner in which the car contains speed is highly deceptive. Best keep an eye on the speedo—or use cruise control.
Thing is, it feels so good to drive the car yourself, using cruise control is kind of like buying a BMW and having somebody else drive it for you. Every second it’s happening, you know you’re missing out on something very special.
The versatility of the car is quite remarkable as well. Yes, if you get the Sport Line package or the M Sport package, your car will be considerably sharper in terms of its handling than our Luxury Line tester, but the drive mode switch does serve to alleviate much of this. In the EcoPro mode and in the Comfort mode, our 435i Luxury Lie Convertible rode like a luxury car—nicely absorbing bumps and the like, without transmitting them into our backsides.
However, when the roads got more demanding and we didn’t want to break our stride, we could opt for the Sport or Sport+ modes to firm up the suspension system, sharpen handling, advance the engine’s throttle response, and allow the transmission to delay gear changes in order to extract even more performance from the turbocharged inline six. The Sport + mode would even delay the intervention of the already quite patient traction control system to allow us to hang the tail of the car out a bit in fast corners.
In other words, though it was dubbed “luxury”, our 435i Convertible tester delivered on the sport thing too.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
When you’re driving down the street in a BMW, you’ll find yourself wondering why every car can’t be the way they are. The cars are just so freaking competent in the way they go about the business of getting from Albany to Buffalo. It isn’t as if other manufacturers haven’t tried to capture the spirit of BMW, and while many have gotten close, none of them have matched the execution
There are all sorts of nice sport sedans out there now. And to a car, they are all quite powerful, handle very nicely and bring a deliciously substantive palette of luxury features to the marketplace. Further, they are handsome, well finished, and capable of delivering a significant amount of satisfaction.
But, not as much as a BMW does.
2014 BMW 435i Convertible Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
Pros: Outstanding road manners, seemingly endless power from the engine, handsome styling, well-crafted interior treatment, a noted pedigree, and a strong fuel economy story…
Cons: Styling might strike some as a bit on the porky side compared to the car it replaces (but not us)…