Drop-Top Driving Machine
BMW built its reputation in the U.S. in the 1960s with agile, sporty cars; some were underpowered, but all were — above all else — fun to drive. Today with its vast lineup, BMW offers numerous models with more than 500 horsepower and supercar levels of performance, including large SUVs that tip the scales at more than 5,000 pounds. Still, every BMW model —including the new 2 Series Convertible — adheres to the now-famous BMW tagline: The Ultimate Driving Machine.
BMW’s Entry Convertible
As the entry model in the U.S. market, the 2 Series is a modern version of the car on which BMW first built its reputation. Agile, sporty and fun to drive, the 2 Series Convertible joins the 2 Series Coupe as the replacement for the 1 Series. The new 2 Series design gives the car more of a wedge-shaped profile, while the clean, contemporary front-end features larger kidney grilles, swept-back headlights and a sculpted lower fascia.
The classic long hood, short overhangs and set-back passenger compartment give the 2 Series Convertible a sleeker look than its predecessor. The cloth soft-top strikes a rather formal profile with the top up, and with the top down the shoulder line blends into the soft-top storage compartment providing the familiar “boat deck” style of earlier BMW convertibles — think E30 3 Series convertibles of the 1980s.
BMW’s 2 Series Convertible is offered in the U.S. market as the 228i and the M235i, both available with xDrive, BMW’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system, marking the first time that BMW has offered all-wheel drive for its compact premium convertible. The 2015 BMW 228i Convertible has an MSRP starting at $38,850, the 228i xDrive Convertible at $40,650 and the M235i Convertible at $48,650. All prices include a $950 destination and handling fee. The 228i, 228i xDrive and M235i are on sale now, and the M235i xDrive will go on sale later in 2015.
Under the Hood
The 228i and 228i xDrive are both powered by BMW’s 2.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and peak torque of 225 lb-ft from 1450 to 4800 rpm. The M235i is powered by a 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 320 horsepower and peak torque of 330 lb-ft from 1400 to 4500 rpm. An 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission is standard for both the 228i and the M235i, with a short-throw 6-speed manual available for the M235i. The 8-speed Steptronic automatic includes a launch control function and steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual shifting.
More Fuel Efficient
Driving Dynamics Control is standard for the 2 Series Convertible, allowing the driver to choose between Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. Eco Pro mode includes a coasting function that disconnects the engine from the rest of the drivetrain when the accelerator is released at speeds between 30 and 100 mph to improve fuel efficiency. The 228i receives an EPA rating of 23 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, which is nearly a 30 percent improvement over the combined rating for the previous 128i Convertible. When equipped with the navigation system, the Proactive Driving Assistant alerts the driver to lift off the accelerator when approaching turns or speed limit changes.
Sport Line and M Sport
To upgrade the performance of the 228i, owners can choose between the Sport Line and M Sport. Sport Line includes 18-inch alloy wheels, M sport suspension (not available with xDrive), door sill strips, sport seats, gloss black exterior trim and a knee pad on the driver’s side of the console. The M Sport adds an aerodynamic body kit, larger front air intakes, a rear diffuser, special kidney grille design, aluminum M logo door sill strips, aluminum hexagon interior trim with Estoril Blue accent, M leather steering wheel, sport instrument design and an M footrest for the driver.
Track Handling Package
Following BMW’s original “S-package” vehicles which were first offered in the late 1970s, the Track Handling Package adds upgrades for driving enthusiasts, including Adaptive M Suspension, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, unique 18-inch light-alloy wheels, Variable Sport Steering and M Sport Brakes for $2,200.
Luxury, Technology and More
Optional equipment for the 228i Convertible includes a Premium Package, Technology Package, Driver Assistance Package and Harman/Kardon premium sound. The $3,400 Premium package adds Dakota leather, power front seats, keyless entry, Satellite radio and other convenience features. The $2,150 Technology Package adds a navigation system, BMW Online, BMW Apps, Advanced Real-Time Traffic information, Remote Services and revised instrument cluster. The Driver Assistant Package adds rear-view camera and Park Distance Control. We tested the 228i Sport Line with nearly all options, including the Track Handling Package, Premium Package and Technology Package at a price of $53,825.
First M Performance Convertible
Joining the M235i Coupe, the M235i Convertible is the first open-top M Performance model. In addition to the more powerful 3.0-liter M Performance TwinPower engine, the standard Adaptive M Suspension, M Sport brakes and Variable Sport Steering are all tuned to optimize the performance potential of the 2 Series Convertible. The M235i includes a more aggressive front fascia, revised side sills, grey mirror caps and 18-inch M alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires that are 225/40 R18 on the front and 245/35 R18 at the rear. With the standard 8-speed Steptronic sport transmission with Launch Control, the M235i Convertible will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, or in 5 seconds flat with the optional 6-speed manual.
Inside, the 228i offers a very familiar BMW feel, telegraphed through comfortable, supportive leather sport seats, a thick steering wheel providing tactile confidence, and instruments and controls that are easily accessed. But make no mistake — the 228i is a 2+2 car with tight rear seating for occasional use; the driver and front passenger would need to adjust their preferred seating positions to accommodate rear-seat passengers.
On the Road
The 228i is probably BMW’s best use of the 2.0-liter TwinPower engine to date. Combined with the 8-speed automatic, the 228i is quick — BMW claims a zero to 60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. With the 228i’s wide torque band, power is always available at any speed, shifts are quick and smooth whether using paddles for manual shifts or in automatic mode. The M Adaptive Suspension allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings for both suspension and steering. You’ll want to choose Sport and Sport+ for twisty backroads to increase responsiveness, but Comfort allows you to take the edge off when cruising for long periods. The chassis feels balanced and willing to take on any challenge.
Top Down or Up
With the top down and the wind deflector in place, the 228i is comfortable at highway speeds with all windows down. The top can be lowered or raised in 20 seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. We drove a short time with the top up, and the 228i felt pretty quiet for a soft-top. BMW says improved soundproofing has lowered the interior sound level by 5 decibels in the front seat and 7 decibels in the rear seat compared to the 128i Convertible.
Right for You?
The bottom line: The BMW 228i Convertible is a blast to drive. Nimble and quick with plentiful power and great suspension, this car will satisfy driving enthusiasts every time they get behind the wheel, yet it is comfortable and easy for everyday use. Granted, the 2 Series is a small car and wouldn’t be a good choice if you really need four seats (or even three) every day, but the two extra seats are there in a pinch. As long as buyers exercise caution when considering all the optional equipment, they’ll get a lot of driving enjoyment for the money.
Bottom Line: Everything you expect in a BMW convertible.
Fun to drive
Nimble and quick with Track Handling Package
Really nice convertible design, top up or down
Back seat is a tight fit; this is a 2+2 car
Expensive, once you add all the good stuff
No manual transmission with 2.0-liter engine