The soft top takes 18 seconds to open or close, at driving speeds up to 50km/h.
The soft top takes 18 seconds to open or close, at driving speeds up to 50km/h.
Image: Supplied / Business Day

While the world still wrestles with the controversial design of the new-generation 4 Series and its supersized vertical kidney grilles, BMW continues to churn out new versions of the car.

Having launched the Coupé earlier this year and the M4 high-performance flagship a couple of weeks ago, BMW has now unveiled the soft-top.

The 4 Series Convertible uses a “panel bow” folding soft roof that, according to BMW, marries the strengths of a retractable hardtop and the puristic appeal of a fabric hood. When closed the roof covers the passenger cell in a coupé-like arch, which combines with a stretched side profile to give the car a sportingly hunkered-down look.

The fabric roof is also 40% lighter than the folding hard top of the previous-generation 4-Series Convertible, and has several layers of insulation to mute wind noise. The soft top comes in black as standard or anthracite silver as an option.

The electrically-powered roof takes about 18 seconds to open or close, at driving speeds up to 50km/h. The variable soft top compartment allows boot capacity to be increased from 300l to 385l  when the roof is closed.

BMW’s sun-kissed 4-Series has grown in size to offer better space than its predecessor, with more legroom for the two rear passengers.

Front occupants sit in sports seats with automatically extending and retracting belt feeders, Vernasca leather trim and seat heating. An optional wind deflector can be stored behind the rear backrest while optional neck warmers are integrated into the front headrests.

An eight-speed Steptronic transmission is standard on all versions, while a Steptronic Sport transmission with a new Sprint function is available optionally. Range-topping petrol and diesel models put their power down through xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive while the rest of the range is pushed along by the rear wheels.

The flagship M440i xDrive has mild hybrid technology, pairing a 275kW/500Nm 3.0l six-cylinder petrol engine with a 48V starter-generator and a second battery to regenerate and store braking energy. This energy is used for supplying the electrical system and providing a power boost, with an additional 8kW available for overtaking or a quick pulloff.

BMW claims a 6.2 second 0-100km/h sprint time for the M440i xDrive and a hair-ruffling 250km/h top speed.

There are also two four-cylinder 2.0l petrol units in the range, with the 420i delivering 135kW/300Nm and the 430i good for 190kW/500Nm. The fuel-sipping 420d turbo diesel offers 140kW and 400Nm with a claimed consumption of just 4.5l / 100km.

A reinforced body with more torsional rigidity sharpens the handling compared to the old model.

A “panel bow” folding soft roof covers the passenger cell in a coupé-like arch.
A “panel bow” folding soft roof covers the passenger cell in a coupé-like arch.
Image: Supplied / Business Day

The standard and optional M Sport suspension each incorporate specially tuned lift-related dampers. Adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled dampers is an extra-cost option, as is variable sport steering.

Optional M Sport brakes are also available, with a choice of blue or red brake callipers. Standard equipment in the flagship model includes 18-inch M light-alloy wheels and a handling-enhancing M Sport differential.

BMW’s open-topper comes with a wide range of driver assistance systems includes lane-keeping aids, a parking assistant, and an enlarged head-up display.

The standard-fitted BMW Live Cockpit Plus comprises the iDrive operating system with touchscreen control display, and the driver peers at a fully digital instrument panel.

The 4-Series Convertible will arrive in SA in the first half of 2021, and only the 420i and M440i xDrive models will be available locally.

 This article was originally published by the Business Day. Read more content like this at the Business Day website.

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