The arrival of BMW’s new 2 Series Convertible positions the compact drop-top a notch above its 1 Series predecessor thanks to more space, greater refinement and a polished new look.
Name change apart, this 2 Series Convertible promises many improvements over its 1 Series predecessor. BMW’s new naming convention sees the 1 Series positioned as a sensible hatchback, while the new 2 Series family boasts an aspirational coupe and convertible pairing.
In drop-top guise, the 2 Series is a little bigger than the old car in all the important areas. It also boasts a new, cleaner and more powerful engine line-up and an upmarket cabin layout and ambience to complement the car’s more elegant and sophisticated exterior design.
Compact premium convertibles are big business. They are hugely popular among buyers seeking an aspirational purchase that’s both affordable and practical. UK buyers, despite the prospect of iffy weather, are some of Europe’s most ardent fans.
This 2 Series Convertible is the logical evolution of BMW’s compact offering, and its familiar looks – inside and out – plus the labour-saving powered fabric roof and additional space over the old car should endear it to those seeking a solid all-rounder keen to blend style and practicality.
You don’t automatically associate compact convertibles with being able to deliver good levels of space and practicality, yet the 2 Series Convertible does better than most in this regard. Its key dimensions have grown slightly in the change from 1 to 2 Series; the car’s boot is a useful size even with the roof down, while front-seat occupants have nothing to worry about. Those in the back are unlikely to sign up willingly for long journeys but, crucially, there’s a little more space to make short trips less of a chore.
In middle-order 228i guise, the car offers a decent blend of performance and refinement. Don’t be fooled by the badge though, as this is a turbo four-cylinder car, not an old-school six-pot model. For anyone other than a dyed-in-the-wool purist this is unlikely to be a big deal. Downsizing is no longer a new phenomenon, and the trade-offs include improved economy and emissions.
Unless you opt for the hot rod M235i variant, in the real world the 2 Series Convertible is happiest when driven at a sensible pace. The 228i might be pleasingly quick in a straight line, but there’s more enjoyment to be had from dropping the roof and taking it easy. The important news is that roof-down refinement is good, especially with the wind deflector in place. Factor in the option of the labour-saving eight-speed auto gearbox and the 228i’s relaxed approach to motoring is refreshing.
There’s no point nit-picking over every last penny with a car like this – it’s a car you’re supposed to enjoy. As such, don’t forget to budget for a few choice options as the base spec could do with beefing up slightly. BMW’s latest high-end navigation and infotainment packages are always worth a look, while alternative cabin trim and upholstery combinations can do wonders to the conservative default specification. If you’re really keen on saving the pennies you could opt for diesel power, although roof-down petrol wins if refinement is a priority.
There’s a lot to like about the 2 Series Convertible. Its modest size makes it a good fit for urban dwellers, yet it offers a sensible balance of space if you occasionally need to do more than the weekly shop. All the basic mod-cons are present, ensuring that the ownership experience is suitably refined straight out of the box.
Don’t expect it to be the ultimate sporting experience – you’ll want an M-badged car for that – but for the undemanding life it’s likely to lead in the hands of style-conscious owners, the 2 Series Convertible will fit right in.