AUSTIN, Texas -- Back when 1989 was the year on the calendar and not an album title, you wanted to be seen in a BMW convertible. It was the ultimate car for yuppies. Now the yuppies have grown older, and BMW has spawned all manner of people movers to meet their needs. But it still offers the classic yuppie mobile -- minus the big 1980s car phone -- in the form of the 2015 BMW 2 Series convertible.
The simplicity of the new 2 Series convertible starts with its cloth top. Anyone considering a 4 Series hardtop convertible should note that the smaller, cheaper 2 Series offers more trunk room with the top down and weighs some 370 pounds less. The rear seats fold down to create even more trunk room. You’ll be carrying everyone else’s golf bags.
Otherwise, this convertible is very much the same as the 2 Series coupe we’ve come to know and love. It comes in similar flavors: four-cylinder 228i or six-cylinder M235i with either standard rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive won’t be available with the six until summer.) The M235i convertible also can be paired with a six-speed manual transmission, something that isn’t offered on any 4 Series convertible.
The electrically powered top will deploy or retract in 20 seconds, and its lines don’t disturb the look of the bodywork whether the top is up or down, although we still find the 2 Series looks a bit too tall and stubby, like the 1 Series it replaces. It’s a bit longer and wider than its predecessor, but sitting next to a 2015 BMW X6 M, it looks almost delicate.
We set off in a rear-wheel-drive 228i equipped with an optional sport suspension. BMW’s 240-hp, turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has no trouble getting us up to speed, although we wish it sounded a little livelier doing so. The quick-shifting ZF-built eight-speed automatic is a master at managing this engine’s somewhat peaky powerband. Our yearlong experience with a manual transmission BMW 328i leads us to believe that even if a stick were offered for the four-cylinder, the automatic would be the right choice.
Roads in this part of Austin are far too straight for our liking, but we’re still able to appreciate that ineffable BMW feel that must have seemed so amazing decades ago. The 2 Series convertible feels solid, utterly undisturbed by the loss of its upper structure. The electrically assisted steering offers natural weight and decent feedback. And, of course, the sun is shining and the wind is in our hair.
Wind is also in our ears, and the clumsy rear windscreen is difficult to erect from inside the car. Easier to press a button and raise the nicely insulated top, which can be done at speeds up to 30 mph.
The 2015 BMW 2 Series convertible is neither the ultimate BMW nor the typical one. Even the 2 Series lineup will soon expand to include the likes of a seven-seat, front-wheel-drive van. But this car remains an essential BMW, reminding us, even on a brief drive, why we like this brand so much in the first place.
2015 BMW 228i Convertible Specifications
|Engines:||2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4, 240 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm, 255 lb-ft @ 1,450-4,800 rpm|
|Layout:||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD or AWD convertible|
|EPA Mileage:||23/34 mpg (city/highway)|
|Suspension F/R:||Strut-type, coil springs/multilink, coil springs|
|L x W x H:||174.7 in x 69.8 x 55.6|
|Trunk space:||13.8 (top raised)|
|0-60 mph:||5.7 seconds|
|Top speed:||130/155 (optional) mph|