2014 BMW 428i xDrive Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge
Story by Justin Pritchard, Photos by Chris Koski
My buddy Fabian, a die-hard BMW enthusiast on about his sixth 3 Series, was checking out the 428i xDrive Cabriolet one night at coffee time.
“So, it’s got the little engine, a convertible roof, and an automatic?!” he asked.
Apparently, Fabian wasn’t impressed. I told him he was correct.
“What do they call it – the “Busty Secretary Edition”??
The BMW 428i xDrive Cabriolet isn’t one of those extreme-performance BMW’s that ship with laser-precise steering, organ-rearranging grip, a paint-peeling exhaust note and acceleration that could tear your face from your skull and leave it lying in the back seat. Fabian likes those BMW’s, mostly. So do many others, your writer included.
This tester doesn’t target the hardcore driving enthusiast, but rather, someone after a comfortable and laid-back car designed to relax the senses rather than set them on fire, and one that provides high levels of confidence, fuel-efficiency and a sense of being backed up for lengthy travels of the comfortable and relaxing variety.
Approach the 428i xDrive Cabrio in a parking lot or driveway, and the motorized, solid-panel roof can be operated in both directions via the keyless remote. You’re treated to a display of mechanized panel, hinge and tensioning-wire gymnastics before the whole thing cleanly hides in the trunk, or erects to turn your 428i into a hard-top coupe. The whole process looks like something out of a Transformers movie – even if the 428i falls short of morphing into a giant talking robot with rocket thrusters for shoes.
There are no rocket thrusters on the 428i. Instead, there’s the 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine that’s effectively replaced BMW’s famous straight-six, with 241 hp backed by virtually every fuel-saving technology available to automotive engineers today. With on-demand electric water and oil pumps, an on-demand alternator that only engages during coasting or braking, direct injection, auto stop, and an eight-speed automatic, the powerplant is big on high-efficiency cruising and plenty of on-demand power with minimal wasted fuel.
2014 BMW 428i xDrive Cabriolet dashboard & gauges. Click image to enlarge
On my watch, combined mileage landed at 8.3 L/100 km. That’s as decent as I’ve ever seen in a big, AWD convertible. Not that I’ve got much experience with big, AWD convertibles, since there aren’t that many out there.
Drive gently, and the generous low-end torque helps ooze the 428i up to speed without much more than a muted hum from the engine bay. Since engines like this one extract the most power from their fuel charge when they’re in low-rev, high-load situations, nearly lugging the transmission keeps the revs to 2,000 rpm or less, unless you get to giving it a bootful of sauce.
Hammer on it and the pull borders on impressive. You might mistake it for a big six-cylinder engine, and the sound is largely pleasing and deep. Further, the eight-speed automatic shifts as quickly and precisely in both directions as a good dual-clutch setup, which is sweet. BMW really gets how to set up an automatic transmission for entertaining manual-mode shifting, and that’s apparent here. Ultimately, most shoppers shouldn’t be wanting for more power, since the 428i scoots along surprisingly well, as 241 hp cars go.
And driven gently, or even moderately, the engine is beautifully isolated from the cabin in terms of escaping noise or vibration. With the stereo up a smidge, you’d never hear a peep or feel a gear change.
2014 BMW 428i xDrive Cabriolet steering wheel & iDrive display. Click image to enlarge
The 428i Cabriolet rides, mostly, like a world-class machine. It’s taut enough to take being hurled into an on-ramp or around a bit of winding backroad with plantedness, though the tester was definitely set up for long-haul comfort first. There’s a thick layer of softness dialed in around the edges of the suspension calibration, and the overall feel, even on rougher surfaces, is softly athletic. Plus, where many big convertibles feel like they’ve got the structural integrity of jiggly undercooked lasagna on rough roads, the extremely stiff, almost totally flex-free structure adds to the overall ride quality, too.
Drivers enjoy it from a cabin lined with red leather and aluminum towards a classy, modern and relaxing atmosphere. The red leather seats are comfortable, draw many complements, and are even fitted with built-in vents that breathe hot air around your neck like that creepy co-worker before an unwelcome workplace massage. Every feature that could be automatic or motorized in here is, and the infotainment system, controlled by BMW’s latest iDrive console, is brilliantly animated, vivid in colour, and advanced in functionality. Weather forecasts, web-based navigation searches and a variety of handy, travel-related apps can all be called into action on the massive centre display screen if desired.