Forty-two thousand dollars is a lot of money for a 1-series BMW, especially a 128i. Plus, this convertible version isn’t as good looking or as sharp to drive as the 250-pound-lighter 128i coupe. But those buyers that want a convertible will flock to this car. If you look at the base price, $33,875 buys you a nice BMW softtop. Most of the people who purchase this car won’t care that it handles worse than the coupe; they’ll be too busy enjoying the sunshine. They may not even notice the slightly choppy ride that carries over from the coupe into the convertible. Some slight cowl shake also comes along for the ride, and it’s not helped by the ride quality. I still love this normally aspirated in-line six, but the additional weight of the convertible does dull its grunt at lower rpm. Overall, I much prefer a lightly optioned 128i coupe.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
$42,000 is a lot for a 1-series, especially when you consider what kind of lightly used 3-series (coupe, convertible, M3) that cash will buy. Nevertheless, the 128i cabriolet has its own charm. Sure, the back seat is essentially useless – I’m 5’10” and I simply don’t fit, from either a leg or a shoulder standpoint – but a roofless BMW is a roofless BMW, and the 1-series cab offers a nimble, chuckable feeling that the larger, heavier 3-series cab simply doesn’t.
This car also reminds me that I’m becoming a little more divided where the 1-series is concerned – I tend to err toward the slightly more floggable 128i, which is less likely to get you arrested, over the 135i. It’s more involving, and it requires more work to go quickly; the 135i simply rockets you into the next time zone regardless of gear choice, rpm, or road speed, and while it’s amazingly fast, it’s not really more entertaining than its smaller-engined sibling.
Sam Smith, Associate Editor
I’m totally with Sam on the side of the 128i over the 135i, and I would lose most of the options to get it back to a more reasonable price. It is snug as a bug with the top up, and what’s not to love about wheeling around in a BMW convertible with the top opened to a perfect sunny afternoon? The power is plenty, the pedals are perfect, the shifter is sublime, and it all works like a BMW. I’d place it somewhere nicely in the middle, between my Mazdaspeed Miata and a .
Jean Jennings, President & Editor-in-Chief
As far as convertibles with back seats are concerned, it’s hard to beat the charm and driving pleasure of a BMW droptop (how else could they sell these things at these price levels?). The 1-series is the newest chapter in that book, but, as Sam noted, that back seat isn’t very serviceable. Wind noise is very tolerable at 80 mph with the top and the windows down – nice!
This is the first nonturbo 1-series I’ve driven, and I definitely agree with my colleagues. The 135i is incredibly powerful, smooth, and fun to drive, but the 128i is more challenging, more rewarding, and less extralegal to drive hard. Much like a Mazda MX-5/Miata, you have to think ahead and use your gears effectively.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2008 BMW 128i Convertible
Base Price (with destination) : $33,875
Price as tested: $41,950
-Titanium silver paint: $475
-Cold weather pack: $750
-Premium Pack: $3600
-Sport Pack: $1200
-Keyless start: $500
-Xenon headlights: $800
-iPod plug: 400
-HD radio: $350
Fuel Economy: (18/28/21)
Size: 3.0-liter I6
HP: 230 hp
Torque: 200 lb-ft
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Weight: 3494 (about 250 lbs more than 128i coupe)
Wheel/Tire Info: (size) 17″ (sport pack, standard with 16″)