By Patrick James on 2014-05-17 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
BMW 420d SE
THE British love their drop tops and smart car makers are more than happy to feed the need.
BMW is no slouch when it comes to convertibles and the new 4 Series which replaces the 3 Series open top, is a fine example with eye catching styling, a clever, three part folding roof and refined and economical engines.
It also offers high levels of standard equipment, including front and rear parking sensors, heated electric front seats, servotronic steering, a sport multi- function leather steering wheel and Xenon headlights.
Also included as standard are DAB radio, leather upholstery two-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth and USB.
It is lower, wider and longer than the car it replaces to give it a sporty profile.
The roof folds away, or back up, in around 20 seconds, not the quickest around, but not that long either to really to enjoy open air motoring and it can be completed at speeds of up to 8mph.
Like all cars with this kind of roof, boot and stowage space is at a premium, but the car does have some clever features to incrementally move the lid while in the boot space to help with loading.
There are 370 litres available with roof up and 220 with it folded, so some of the weekly shop might need to be stowed in the rear seats. But if you are looking for a load lugger, a convertible should not be on your list.
It looks sporty both with roof up or down with a low-slung profile giving a low centre of gravity for better handling. The sleekness is nicely set off with the familiar kidney grille which has an almost menacing looking with large air intake below the neat headlights and attractive 17inch alloys.
The interior features high quality soft-touch trim and finish. The dashboard has circular instruments in a black panel look as well as the freestanding flat screen iDrive monitor, controlled by the iDrive knob which handles navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, telephone and sound. It oozes top build quality and feels a good place to be.
The electrically operated front seats include integrated retractable seat belts while the rear bench seats form two individual seats, with cup holders and a storage tray for small items between them.
This particular model powered by a smooth two-litre and economical diesel unit. The 181bhp engine, features BMW EfficientDynamics fuel saving technology and is mated to the six-speed gearobx to deliver good pace and torque, which is needed to pull what is a heavy lump of metal along.
It hits the benchmark 60mph from a standing start in just over eight seconds and delivers decent average fuel consumption 53.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 138g/km.
On the move the car is also incredibly refined with a decent ride and wind, road and engine noise virtually absent with the roof in place thanks to the levels of soundproofing and excellent build quality.
The combination of specially customised suspension and construction from high strength materials means that unlike some convertibles it doesn't suffer from body flex or roll.
It looks sporty, but it is more like a grand tourer, designed for driver pleasure rather than out and out performance.
As with all BMWs safety equipment is comprehensive. Not cheap, but if you've got it this is a good way to flaunt it.
There are five different trim levels with standard SE trim, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport.
BMW 420d SE Convertible
Mechanical: 184bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 146mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 53.3
Insurance Group: 30
C02 emissions: 138g/km
Bik rating: 22%
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