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2014 BMW 4 Series 435i Convertible First Drive

What It Is
The 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible is a new 4 passenger drop-top based on the 3 Series.
Best Thing
The 2014 BMW 435i packs in performance, blow drying is free.
Worst Thing
The BMW 435i's interior lacks cohesion, is a mish-mosh of premium parts.
Snap Judgment
With fresh exterior styling and plenty of performance, the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible builds on the model it's replacing.


The 2014 BMW 435i Convertible is a new convertible from the Bavarian automaker, sort of. The BMW 4 Series arrives to replace the 3 Series Coupe and Convertible models, but the badges are not the only thing that's been changed. The 2014 4 Series comes in two flavors, and the entry-level 428i Convertible is powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged engine good for 245 horsepower. The model we drove was the 2014 BMW 435i, which employs a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine, and as can be expected, is more powerful with 306 horses. Both come with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. And to see what's new, you merely need to take one glance at the 4 Series.

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New styling wraps around the 2014 BMW 435i Convertible, from a larger kidney grille, new air vents up front, to air "breathers" positioned behind the front wheels which add serious sports car styling to the drop-top model. It's also noticeably larger, wider, and lower. The 4 Series is lower than 3 Series, and the convertible--an expert planker--gets even lower still. With the larger 2 Series replacing the 1, it makes sense to increase the size of the 4 Series, as well. When they arrive in dealerships this March, the 2014 428i Convertible will start at $49,675, while you'll need at least $55,825 to step into a 435i Convertible. With a few hours to cruise around Las Vegas and the scorched Nevada landscape, we were able to get a few impressions.

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Walkaround

The 2014 435i Convertible is instantly recognizable as a BMW, but you might do a double take to assess just which model you're looking at exactly. While the 3 Series Convertible gave way to finesse, the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible adds noticeable muscle. With the top down, it has an elegant, sporty character that mirrors its driving dynamics. You've still got the kidney grille--now larger--and four round headlights, but you've also got three distinct air intake vents that signal additional cooling, and at least give the impression of a sportier car. The air breathers positioned just behind the front tires are an especially sporty, eye-catching feature. Exterior styling is further differentiated by Sport, Luxury, and M Sport line trims that help define each model.

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Sitting Down

The 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible is an all-new model, and while the interior is filled with premium parts, there is a slight lack of cohesion. The beautiful high-resolution color screen with attractive new graphics is in contrast with the button-heavy center console. The mix of leather, metal, and plastics could be further refined on a car that easily pushes $60,000. BMW sought to make the cabin driver-centric, and a slight angling of the center console helps to emphasize that. The seats are comfortable, and front passengers find themselves in a wide, roomy cabin. In our drive, we didn't have the top up, but BMW says it takes 20 seconds, and can be done at speeds up to 11 mpg, which is essentially parking lot speed. On the highway, the windscreen was a small savior, making it seem like we were traveling at half the speed, without the need to shout over wind noise.

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Driving

With all of this new styling, we were anxious to get behind the wheel and see if the driving dynamics matched the sporty visual enhancements. Immediately upon acceleration we were given our answer. The BMW 435i Convertible gets up to speed quickly, power is seemingly always at the ready, and the whole thing seems easy and effortless. Turbo lag is seemingly non-existent, and while the engine and exhaust notes were more befitting of a grand tourer--which the 4 Convertible sort of is--the car deftly maneuvered around corners, and took sharp turns like an experienced veteran. Power delivery is a marvelous thing, and the eight-speed automatic transmission ensured smooth wafting through the gears. In short, Beamer loyalists, the legendary performance of the 3 Series has easily made its way on to the 4.

Summary

The 2014 BMW 435i Convertible replaces the 3 Series Convertible, adding style and presence over the outgoing model. While the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible is dynamically very capable, its character more suits that of a grand touring, scenic cruiser. With a choice of 2 engines, a smooth-shifting eight-speed transmission, and several exterior combinations and interior variations to please, the 4 Series Convertible should satisfy those shopping the segment. We're anxious to get the 435i back in where we can further evaluate its BMW ConnectedDrive system, check things like headroom, and measure how quiet the cabin is when the roof is up.

Basic Specs

2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder/3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine, eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, 245-hp/306-hp, $49,675/$55,825, fuel economy not yet available.

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