Germans, we are told, are very methodical people, which explains, of course, why German carmakers are so fond of alphanumerics for automobile model names. Well, not Porsche. Or Volkswagen. But Audi, for example, designates sedans with even numbers (A4, A6 and A8) while coupes are odd, or at least odd-numberd, including the A5 and A7. Although just to make sure we’re paying attention, the A3 is, ah, a sedan.
BMW, on the other hand has odd numbers for their sedans (1-Series, 3-Series, 5-Series and 7-Series) and even for the coupes and convertibles. There’s the 2-series, 4-Series, 6-Series and, oh, someday might the 8-Series return?
Which brings us to the topic of the day, the 2014 BMW 435i Convertible. It is, as one might expect, the al fresco alternative to the 4-Series Coupe, such as the 2014 BMW 428i Coupe we recently reported on. As we noted in our first drive of the 428i coupe, although it supersedes the 3-Series coupe, it rides on a longer wheelbase and is wider to boot (though both are about the same length).
The same goes for the 4-Series Convertible. It replaces the convertible version of the 3-Series, and the differences between 2013 Droptop Three and 2014 Droptop Four are just like those of the respective coupes.
Just for reference, the new 3-Series wagon has the same wheelbase as the sedan, though the 3-Series Gran Turismo rides on the same wheelbase as the 4-Series coupes, convertibles and Gran Coupe. Confusing? Even one BMW insider confided it’s hard to keep up with the plethora of variants.
But getting back to the 2014 BMW 4-Series, the drivetrains are as one might expect, the BMW 428i matches the 328i and the 435i matches the 335i, though the 4-Series has no equivalent to the 320i intro level 3-Series, nor for that matter, the 328d diesel has no pair in the 4-Series.
However we’re here, as we noted, for the 2014 BMW 435i Convertible. What a prize. First of all, this is a retractable hardtop. Push a button on the center console lifts up in two pieces while the trunk rotates out of the way for the two rooftop sections to spoon and drop into place underneath. The trunk then closes over them, all neat and tidy, with no convertible stack, no difficult boot to pull, stretch and snap into place, and nothing to mar the clean lines of the rear deck.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that the top takes up a lot of room in the trunkal area of the car. Open the trunk with the top down and that’s mostly what you see, the glass of the rear window. Hidden underneath is enough room for airplane carry-on luggage, a rollerbag—just barely—and a “personal item,” briefcase, purse or small backpack. Want to travel with the top down? Pack tight. And with soft luggage.
On the other hand, with the top up, the 2014 BMW 4-Series Convertible has a generous trunk compared with the top down, with 13 cubic feet versus 7.8 cubic feet with the top down, compared to the sports car trunk of the Mazda Miata’s 5.3 cubic feet.
Ironically, top up can be just as enjoyable as top down, particularly on hot sunny days, not because you can raise the windows and turn up the a/c, although you can, but because you can lower the windows for a classic pillarless hardtop effect. The roof keeps the sun off, and even cruising at 70 mph, there’s little buffeting, at least in the front seats, and conversation is possible at normal speaking tones. And the 2014 4-Series Convertible looks so good, top up and windows down, at least for an admirer of the frameless window look. There’s an extra button with the power window buttons that raises and lowers all four windows simultaneously. Convenient.
A word about the windows. The rake of the front side windows means the upper rear corner of the glass forms an acute angle. And that gives getting into the car in tight parking spaces—and a two-door’s doors are longer than those of a four-door—a certain hazard. Want to see a bruise? Didn’t think so.
As we noted, the 2014 BMW 4-Series Convertible is available in 428i and 435i versions. We’ve driven the four-cylinder 428i and we found its 240 horses adequate in a BMW way of being adequate. The 435i makes that Adequate Plus. BMW claims 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds and we won’t argue.
The 3.0-liter turbo inline six is rated at 300 horsepower with a fat 300 lb-ft torque curve provides power when you need it. Or when you just want it. The problem, if it is a problem, is that the 300 horses are more than what’s needed for the typical winding back road. A quarter throttle will get you all one can reasonably use. You’ll spend more time at full throttle taking the 435i Convertible to an autocross.
Still, it’s fun to have that authoritative horsepower and the sound of the six that comes with it. The inline six is almost a BMW patent right now, and they make the best of it, in all the ways you might want to take that.
Standard on the 435i Convertible is Driving Dynamics Control, which adjusts engine and transmission controls to one of four settings, Eco Pro, said to increase fuel mileage by up to 20 percent, plus Comfort, Sport and Sport +. We usually just defaulted to Sport and got on with it.