Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: July 23, 2023
Vitamin D is widely considered one of the most important chemicals for your body, one that prevents your bones from becoming brittle and fractured. Yes, this is still a car review - we’re getting there. Because one of the easiest ways to increase your Vitamin D intake is by exposing yourself to the sun. They don’t call it the sunshine vitamin for nothing. At least, that’s the argument you should be making when you want to purchase a convertible.
The current market is heavily saturated with droptops too from entry-level offerings like the Mazda MX-5 Miata to mid-range boulevard cruisers like the Audi A5 Cabriolet, Mercedes E-Class Convertible, and the BMW in question here, the 430i xDrive Convertible.
Larger, wider, and higher than the outgoing model, the new 4 Series Convertible has also lost weight by ditching the hard-top roof in place of a fabric soft-top that is 40% lighter. And while the silhouette loses some aesthetic appeal, fabric roofs are so well made and insulated these days that the list of penalties is short. The soft top saves weight, increases trunk space, adds extra headroom, and significantly lowers the car’s center of gravity for better performance.
The result is a clean and attractive shape, assisted by the frameless windows, a long hood, and minimalistic lines. The chrome surrounding the front grill really doesn’t do it any favours, instead highlighting it to resemble beaver teeth - must be a gangster beaver with all those shiny fillings. Still, one advantage of the convertible is that there is no B-pillar, so rolling down both front and rear windows allows for a wide moon-shaped opening, a nifty alternative to open-air cruising during light rain or under heavy sunlight.
On the bright side, you can’t see the front end when situated inside. The cabin is nicely appointed with leather trimmings and premium switchgear. BMW interiors never disappoint in quality or fit and finish. The laid-back and low seating position is excellent, but the steering wheel can’t be lowered enough to find the sweet-spot angle, a complaint we’ve had of pretty much every modern BMW we’ve driven.
With the size increase, the 430i Convertible provides superb wind buffeting, preventing turbulence from pummeling your ears and allowing quiet conversations to be held even at highway speeds. Sound deadening is impressive when the roof is up too. On a side note, the roof can be electrically operated at speeds up to 50 km/h and takes about 18 seconds to complete its mechanical dance.
The 430i xDrive Convertible comes loaded with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder producing 255 hp and 294 lb-ft of torque, enough to launch it from 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds. An 8-speed automatic transmission runs the show, while all-wheel drive ensures maximum grip and all-weather traction.
If you aren’t lured by the gravity of performance driving, the 430i is all you really need in a sunkissed cruiser. The four-cylinder is perfectly suited for lax duties and casual driving, preferring a low to moderate pace. Yet, the 430i does not feel lethargic when asking it to pick up the pace, letting the boost ramp up with whistles from its wastegate that you can distinctly hear when the roof is down.
The more expensive M440i Convertible is clearly more enticing with its more potent powertrain that launches it 1.3 seconds quicker from 0-100 km/h, but the 430i is the calmer sibling, taking its time to build up propulsion and delivering it more linearly, but at a dialled back pace. Let us put it this way: test drive the 430i first and if that’s enough, don’t even take the keys to the M440i. Power can spoil you. And there’s this phenomenon called FOMO. We’d reckon that for 80% of drivers, the 430i is more than sufficient.
The 430i comes with fixed dampers rather than adaptive or adjustable ones, and we don’t think it needs it anyways. It’s wonderfully composed when negotiating pockmarked roads, and surprisingly more complaint than a BMW Z4. Add in the somewhat usable rear seats and ample trunk storage, and we really can’t see much of a reason to spring for a coupe instead.
The BMW 430i Convertible doesn’t offer a driving experience that’s encouraging and involving, and instead provides a more focused and relaxed ride that houses a thick layer of daily usability and everyday comfort. Gangster beaver teeth aside, this droptop BMW is finely crafted and frugal with fuel, and it’s hard not to recommend one to the vitamin D deficient.
Model: 2024 BMW 430i xDrive Convertible
Paint Type: Sanremo Green
Base Price: $68,250
Price as Tested: $79,150
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 255 hp @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 294 lb-ft @ 1,550 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.2
Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S; 225/40R19 front; 255/35R19 rear