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2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible First Drive and Review

Benjamin Hunting
by Benjamin Hunting
February 9, 2015
3 min. Reading Time
2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible ・  Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible ・ Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Traditionally, taking an automobile and removing its roof to create a convertible ups the fun quotient considerably. There are some enthusiasts who might argue the opposite - that cutting off such a structurally important aspect of a car's structure merely loosens handling and adds weight (in the form of unseen bracing) - but that attitude misses the point. You see, not all mirth can be measured on a skid pad, and to judge a convertible for what it subtracts from its starting template ignores the spiritual benefits of unfettered access to sunshine and the feeling of the wind in your hair (or lack thereof).

The 2015 BMW 2 Series convertible's design team is well aware of the criticisms leveled at drop top dynamics. BMW's branding has long focused around a performance narrative, and that includes the 'ultimate tanning machines' that first made their appearance on the American market in the 1980s. The 2 Series is under more scrutiny than most other members of the automaker's line-up, as the coupe version of this entry-level luxury ride has been routinely praised as offering the purest driving experience available with a roundel on the hood.

The pressure to ensure that the open air edition of the car carries forward the same skill-set is not inconsiderable, and although convertible buyers are typically less obsessed with slaloms and stats than their coupe counterparts, image is everything in the premium segment. After spending some time in the new 2 Series convertible staving off the Texas sun, I can assure you that fun hasn't been left on the backburner back in Bavaria.

Two Distinct Models, Two Distinct Personalities

BMW has narrowed the product mix for the 2 Series convertible as compared to the coupe. This means that although you still get two engine choices at ordering time - either a 2.0-liter, 240 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder in the 228i or a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder good for 320 horses in the M235i - you can only get a manual gearbox with the larger unit. This is somewhat unfortunate, for although the eight-speed automatic that comes standard with the 228i is up to the task of cruising comfortably at speed, it's less engaging to flip through the gears using shift paddles than it is to row your own with such a small displacement motor.

That being said, the 228i offered just enough grunt to keep things interesting out on the rural two-lanes that surround Austin, Texas, with acceleration proving lively and smooth, if somewhat less linear than what you would find in the six-cylinder version of the coupe (BMW didn't have any M235i convertibles available for us to sample at the event). All-wheel drive is also coming to the 2 Series convertible family, and both the 228i and M235i will benefit from the xDrive system (with the 228i offering it at launch).

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

1 x 2 = More Mature

The 2015 BMW 2 Series convertible is the re-named, redesigned update of the now-departed 1 Series convertible, and there are quite a few differences between the two generations of entry-level drop-top. Longer, wider, and heavier than the 1 Series that preceded it, the 2 Series convertible (or cabriolet, depending on which marketing materials you choose to reference) comes across as a more mature open air option. You really don't notice the additional mass of the convertible as compared to the fixed-roof model, and cowl shake - that annoying tendency for body panels to flex and rattle over rough roads - was conspicuous by its absence during my afternoon behind the wheel. The car might not have felt as communicative mid-corner as its coupe cousin, but there was more than enough road feel through the chassis to convince me that this is a close to a drop top driver's car that you're going to get from modern day Bavaria.

Some might question the wisdom of pushing the 2 Series convertible in a somewhat larger and bulkier direction, given that the 4 Series convertible already has a death grip on the grand touring slot in the BMW showroom. Close examination reveals several key differences between the two models, starting with the decision to equip the smaller model with a fabric top rather than an impressive, yet space-hungry retractable hardtop like you would find in the 4 Series. This not only reduces overall weight, but it also preserves trunk room (a fact that BMW was eager to underline, demonstrating the larger rear seat fold-down section that can accommodate a pair of golf bags).

Of course, the 2 Series' smaller form factor also means you'll probably want to keep the back seats free of human cargo, as they function much more effectively when transporting luggage than full-size people. This is in keeping with the spirit of the 2 Series coupe, which isn't much better when it comes to hauling more than a pair of passengers at a time, but it's underlined in the convertible by the enormous - and effective - wind deflector that snaps in to smother the entire rear seat.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

The Price Is Right

The 2015 BMW 228i starts at a refreshingly affordably $37,900, and while that base MSRP will no doubt be obliterated by must-have options it still places the car $10k below a similarly-equipped 4 Series convertible. Taking into account the smaller, more nimble character of the 2 Series, plus its improved fuel efficiency versus its pricier sibling, it's clear that BMW has the entry-level all figured out in its convertible fleet. Moving up to the M235i muddies the waters somewhat, as the price differential between it and the 435i shrinks to a mere $7k, but one could argue that the fun factor associated with the M-badged suspension system more than makes up for the reduced practicality of the car. Either way, BMW has produced a pair of competent, compact convertibles that do right by their strong heritage.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting


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