PERHAPS the nicest thing anyone can say about the BMW 4 Series Convertible is that it could easily be mistaken for the Coupe - both in the way it looks and drives.
The new 4 Series Convertible is the former open top 3 Series. With its new name comes the 4 Series' familiar front fender ducts called Air Breathers to reduce air resistance. So with the roof up, it looks like the Coupe at a glance.
Like the previous 3 Series Convertible, the new 4 Series also uses a practical folding hardtop that offers better acoustic insulation. This rigid retractable roof has been further improved to reduce noise levels, with a sound-absorbing headliner to cut wind noise by up to two decibels.
At high speed, the cabin of the 4 Series is remarkably calm - there is none of the road noise associated with a convertible. No sounds from passing traffic permeate the interior either. The hardtop also plays a role in increasing the 4 Series Convertible's torsional rigidity, which is up 40 per cent compared with the car it replaces.
As with its predecessor, the rigid three-piece roof can be electrically stowed in 20 seconds, and this can take place even when the car is moving at speeds of up to 18 kmh.
Overall, the new 4 Series is longer and wider than the previous 3 Series Convertible. At 4.6 m in length, it is 26 mm longer; its 2,810 mm wheelbase has been extended by 50mm.
And because its rear wheel arches are the widest part of the car, the rear track is now a whopping 81 mm wider at 1,594 mm. The front track is 45 mm wider at 1,545 mm. It also sits eight mm closer to the road, giving it an extremely low centre of gravity.
The 4 Series was manufactured with a lightweight construction concept. It is about 20 kg lighter than its predecessor. Together with its bespoke chassis set-up, all these enhancements make the BMW 4 Series Convertible one of the most dynamic open-top cars available.
In the BMW 435i Convertible with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine, 306 hp and 400 Nm are delivered to the rear wheels via the familiar eight-speed automatic transmission for very spirited performance.
And the 435i Convertible handles just like a fixed-roof car, with zero body flex under normal circumstances. In fact, its agility and refinement have improved so much that it feels like a smaller 6 Series in terms of space and comfort.
Thanks to its upscale four-seater cabin and dynamics, few convertibles in its class can claim to have this level of luxury with this much utility.
BMW 435i Convertible
Engine 2,979cc inline-6 turbocharged
Transmission 8-speed auto
Max power 306 hp @ 5,800-6,000 rpm
Max torque 400 Nm @ 1,200-5,000 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.5 secs
Top speed 250 kmh
CO2 emissions 180 g/km
Average OMV $68,000
Price $360,800 (with COE)
Distributor Performance Motors
Tel 6319 0100