Austin TX – When it bowed last year, the rear-drive 2014 BMW 2 Series Coupe promised to be a salve for the Bimmer performance faithful who peered longingly into their rose-tinted rear-view mirror at the formative 2002 sedan (1966-75), while viewing the latest-gen 3 Series as heading in the wrong direction – a bit too big and a bit too soft.
This replacement for the compact 1 Series arrived with both a 241 hp, 258 lb-ft 2.0L turbo four (228i) and a 322 hp, 332 lb-ft turbo straight-six (M235i), and proved to be a highly agreeable runabout with plenty of spirit. Especially the latter M Performance model that was named AJAC’s Best New Performance Car under 50k.
Rolling into BMW showrooms now are drop-top versions of these spunky four-seaters, just in time for our long awaited spring. Canada’s four-cylinder car is the all-wheel-drive, eight-speed-auto only 228i xDrive Cabriolet at $45,200, while the six-pot M235i Cabriolet is rear-drive, has an available six-speed manual and starts at $51,900. Later in the year we’ll see an all-wheel-drive M235i xDrive Cab.
Tested here under the Texas sun is the US rear-drive 228i Cabriolet – officially labeled Convertible south of the border for reasons only marketing mavens understand.
Job 1: drop the fabric roof and get some sun on these pasty Canadian complexions. Easy peasy. The fully automated top does its business in 20 seconds and at speeds up to 50 km/h. You can also use the key fob to operate the roof.
As a rule, there is a structural price to be paid for cutting the lid off a car. Hit some rough pavement in many post roof-ectomy vehicles and they’ll quiver and shake like a hooker in church. None of that here. The 228i Cabriolet feels as rock solid as the vicar’s faith, only wavering slightly over the worst patches. Kinda like the same vicar’s resolution when he spies those four-inch heels and neon tube-top in the back pew.
BMW says the chassis is 20 percent stiffer torsionally and 10 percent better in bending when compared to the old 1 Series.
The back seats accommodate smallish adults in reasonable comfort. With the windows up and optional rear wind blocker in place the cabin is remarkably free of wind buffeting. We were humming along at 120 km/h with nary a ruffle to our ‘dos. On the down side, the wind blocker is fussy to install and covers up the rear seats.
With the top up, the cabin was remarkably serene. Credit the additional layers of roof insulation that reduce noise by seven db(A) compared to the 1 Series Cabriolet.
Additionally, trunk space increases nine percent with the top both up and stowed, there is a bigger pass through between the rear seats and the trunk’s opening is wider. According to BMW, the 2 Series Cab will take the all-important two sets of golf clubs when the roof is retracted.
This is a handsome car with the roof down. The Cabrio’s sculpted shoulders and tonneau cover create a flat, boat tail-like surface that wraps around the rear of the cabin. These testers featured the $2,000 M Sport Line trim that adds 18-inch double-spoke alloys, some high-gloss black exterior trim, black-chrome exhaust tips and an M Sport body kit.
The interior is also lovely, here resplendent in Coral Red Dakota Leather ($1,500, danke). The form-fitting seats with adjustable side bolsters are close to perfect for my frame, and the small diameter wheel with thick rim fills the palms.