BMW is a luxury auto manufacturer that is based in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, and was founded in 1916. In addition to producing passenger vehicles under the BMW brand, BMW also owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and produces the Mini brand of compact cars. BMW vehicles are sold all over the world, and the company produces a diverse lineup of vehicle types. BMW convertible cars, which are usually based on comparable BMW coupe and sedan models, are some of the best selling premium convertibles in the world.
The BMW nomenclature makes it reasonably easy to identify BMW convertible cars by their model names. A three digit number identifies the vehicle’s status in the model hierarchy, and often roughly corresponds to trim levels within the model lineup. (Older generations of BMWs had a stronger correlation between model number and vehicle capability, since the number in the model name represented the vehicle’s engine displacement.) Then comes letters, usually one or two. These letters represent different vehicle characteristics, such as “d” for a diesel engine, “L” for a long wheelbase version of a vehicle, or “c” for cabriolet, which is what BMW convertibles are called. The BMW convertible lineup is closely based on the brand’s sedan and coupe lineup; generally, each series of car has a convertible version. These options include the 1 Series coupe and hatchback, the 3 Series compact sedan, the 4 Series coupe (which is new for 2014 and was part of the 3 Series lineup until 2013), the 5 Series mid size sedan and station wagon, and the 6 Series luxury grand touring coupe. Each of these BMW vehicles has a distinct place in the model lineup, offering specific body styles, engine and transmission pairings, and feature and option packages. When a buyer opts for any of these models in convertible form, driving that particular BMW convertible closely mimics the driving experience of that car in sedan or coupe form. In this way, BMW generally avoids having a specific convertible model in the brand’s vehicle lineup.
There are exceptions, though. The BMW convertible range also includes roadsters such as the Z3 and Z4. The BMW Z3 was BMW’s first modern roadster, and also has the distinction of being the first BMW model produced in the United States. This BMW convertible car was introduced for the 1996 model year and was produced until 2002. The BMW Z4 has been produced since 2002, and replaced the discontinued Z3, helping the BMW convertible lineup maintain a bit of an edge.