Convertibles are something of a runaway sales success in the UK, with more British buyers opting for a drop top than anywhere else in Europe, bar Germany. We may not have the year-round balmy weather that many Mediterranean countries enjoy, but it seems that this doesn’t put Brits off from choosing a cabriolet over a hard top alternative.
Here we look into the pros and cons of choosing a convertible now we’ve got behind the wheel of the brand new BMW 2 Series Convertible and compared it with the 2 Series Coupe – which it’s based on – on the road. You may yearn for the wind-in-the-hair experience on sunny days, but do you know just how much extra you could be paying to put the cabriolet on the drive? Read on to find out.
The biggest difference between the two models – bar the addition of a soft top – comes in the higher cost of the convertible. While a diesel 220d Sport Coupe would set you back £27,015, you’d need to find £29,965 for the cabriolet – a premium of £2,950. When it comes to the M235i performance model, however, buyers would need to stump up an additional £3,175 for the soft top.
Thanks to the extra weight needed to strengthen the car when cutting off the roof, the convertible also carries 145kg in extra weight – equivalent to two extra passengers – denting fuel economy and acceleration. While the diesel 220d Coupe returns strong economy of 68.9mpg and sprints to 62mph in a speedy 7.1 seconds, the 220d Convertible’s extra weight slashes economy to 64.2mpg and raises the nought to 62mph sprint to 7.5 seconds.
Cutting the roof off also hinders the car’s handling, with the extra weight and reduced strength of the body necessitating stiff suspension, which can prove uncomfortable over rougher roads; we found the M235i Coupe more comfortable to drive than its M235i Convertible stable mate. While the figures from the Convertible compare favourably with many rivals, those after the best balance of price, performance and economy would be better served with the hard top.
Another penalty with the Convertible is that the boot is smaller, with the folding roof stealing load space. While the Coupe offers up 390 litres of space in the boot, this drops to 335 litres in the Convertible – or a mere 280 with the roof down. While the volume is still reasonably useful, access through the small boot opening and intrusion from the roof means that loading larger items is much trickier than in the Coupe. Surprisingly, however, those in the rear seats have more headroom in the Convertible with its soft roof lining than the metal-topped Coupe, which is cramped for those over five foot eight.
With just a small rear window and very wide rear pillars, rear visibility in the Convertible is limited too – unless you have the roof down, of course – meaning that checking blind spots is much harder in the soft top. Refinement levels are also a little lower in the cabriolet, with the soft top letting more sound through, though it is still very refined compared with drop top rivals.
Though the Convertible is an impressive piece of engineering, offering good roadholding and a reasonable amount of interior space compared with cabriolet competitors – plus the ability to hide the roof to enjoy wind-in-the-hair motoring – buyers will have to decide whether to stump up the steep premium in purchase price and higher running costs. Those sitting on the fence about whether to get a soft top or a hard top could save themselves several thousand pounds by following their head and opting for the Coupe, however.
February 27, 2015