First Drive: BMW 420d SE Convertible
Sector: Convertible Price: £36,675 Fuel: 53.3mpg CO2: 138g/km
You might not expect a premium droptop as elegant as this latest 4 Series Convertible to be a big seller in the fleet market, yet BMW believes a third of the 4,500 cars destined for the UK will go to corporate drivers. Of these as much as 70% will be the most economical 420d model which uses a 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine offering 138g/km and combined cycle economy of 53.3mpg.
Progress is brisk and assured and ride quality is excellent, even on broken Spanish roads, with a responsive, comfortable and competent feeling to the overall driving experience. With the roof down and wind deflector up there is surprisingly little wind and road noise even at motorway speeds and the sound of the diesel engine remains comfortably remote most of the time.
The cabin is no-nonsense, comfortable and stylish, though as conservative as we’ve come to expect from BMW. There’s plenty of room up front and boot and rear passenger space is adequate even for adults. The electrically adjustable front seats now have integrated retractable seat belts and are extremely comfortable.
Two features in particular ease the compromises that a convertible roof inevitably brings. The three-piece folding roof folds in 20 seconds at the rather too pedestrian speed of 8mph or less. Once stowed, a button push in the boot lid raises the folded roof back out of the way so that luggage can be placed in the boot without having to open the roof again. The wind deflector is stored in a special compartment behind the rear seats so that the limited 220 litres (roof stowed) to 370 litres (roof up) of boot space isn’t reduced further.
Inevitably such a complex roof increases weight so this BMW 4 Series was always going to excel as a cruiser rather than a sports car. Quite how much it excels is impressive and there are few rivals which can match these qualities in such a stylish package.