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Driving review: BMW 2-Series Convertible 220i

The 220i is my pick of the range

Can you picture this; A beautiful Cape day, the smell of the sea, the top down, wind in your hair…it just doesn’t get better does it? This vision goes along way in explaining the success of the BMW 1 Series convertible. It was the top seller in its class (130 000 units since it launched in 2007, more than 2 900 were sold in South Africa). BMW’s new 2 Series convertible was launched in Cape Town last week, ‘replacing’ the 1-Series. It’s all part of BMW’s renaming convention. But don’t let this deter you, it is still as good as the model it replaces.

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It is a great looking car. It is everything you want from a convertible; sporty with a cheeky grin and a sexy wink. With athleticism and sharpness about its design, clear advances in terms of acceleration, agility and efficiency, and improvements in the driving comfort, functionality and innovative equipment features it offers, the BMW 2 Series Convertible takes the qualities displayed by its predecessor to yet another level.

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The BMW 2 Series Convertible – like the recently launched BMW 2 Series Coupe – occupies very different ground from the BMW 1 Series, far more so than its predecessor. This demarcation is evident in both its design and its extremely powerful range of engines. As with the Coupe, the distinctive character is encapsulated in its model designation.

The number 2 has a special importance in the model history of BMW and, since the arrival of the BMW 02 range more than 45 years ago, has identified the presence of exceptionally sporting driving pleasure in a compact car. Introduced in 1966, the 02 series went on to become a byword around the world for sporty, agile handling – and from 1967 these gifts could also be enjoyed with the roof down. Specialist coachbuilder Baur wasted little time in developing a pair of soft-top variants based on the BMW 02 range which remained in production until 1975.

BMW 2-Series convertible

The 2-Series convertible will offer three petrol engines, but no diesel like in Europe. I drove the 220i which is a 2-litre turbo producing 135 kW and 270 N.m of torque. You can also opt for the 228i which gives you a bit more at 180 kW and 350 N.m. If you want a really sporty option, go for the 235i Convertible which has a twin-turbo 3-litre engine and lets you play around with 240 kW of power and a whopping 450 N.m of torque. All engines are availble with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed auto ir sports auto.

There is no doubt this is a fun car to drive. I found the clutch to be rather heavy, but after a while it became less noticeable. It is sure footed around corners and this entry level engine packs enough punch to make it my top choice. You don’t really need much more power, unless you are on a track of course. Due to the M Sport kit fitted to out test unit, which includes lower-profile tyres, the ride was a bit harsh. The uneven road surface did nothing to help smooth out the ride.

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If you own a BMW 1-Series Convertible and are looking to upgrade, you won’t go wrong with the 2-Series Convertible. It will no doubt remain a favourite in the premium-compact drop-top segment. If there is one criticism I have, it’s with the interior. Although a far cry from the 1-Series’s outdated cabin, BMW could do with a revamp. I fear that the 2-Series Convertible interior will feel outdated before the year is up. But then again, Beemer fans will appreciate the familiarity.

At R458 783, the BMW 2-Series Convertible is, as I mentioned, my pick of the range. The 228i comes in at R529 000 and the M235i will set you back R651 605.

 

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