BMW 430i Convertible Sport Pro 2021 Review : Summer Scent
Singapore - According to multiple dictionaries, the definition of a convertible is as follows: An automobile with a roof that can be folded down or removed.
Call it what you will: roadster, cabriolet, drop-top, spider/spyder or rag-top. Basically, anything without a fixed roof or a C-Pillar can be classified as such.
To be fair, I jumped into this a little half-cocked. Compact executive convertibles are few and far between here in Singapore and I'd never driven the previous F33-Generation 4 Series Convertible, or for that matter, anything else within the drop-top executive car niche.
Suffice to say, I was stepping into uncharted territory by climbing into the latest G23 BMW 430i Convertible. But my lack of experience gives me the opportunity to have a look at the car with fresh eyes – it was a bit of a passion project too.
Having spent the good part of a week in this car, I grew to realise how much I've missed out on. It’s not very often that I find a car so extraordinary that I’d change my opinions about a given body style.
But there I was sat in the stunning, shimmering Sanremo Green Metallic drop-top with one thought running through my mind: I get it now, I totally get it.
And I love it.
This green convertible is an absolute feast for the eyes. Muscular haunches and svelte body contours endow the 430i Convertible with a certain elegance that was absent in the car that preceded it. It's assertive and prominent, yet subtle enough that it'd just as easily slip under the radar.
The front end sports the same slim, curvier LED headlamps that you’d find on the 4 Series Coupe. Long, flowing creases run along the sides of the car and the hood, tapering down toward the front. Like the coupe, you get the same massive vertical grilles flanked by gloss black vents.
Despite the polarising nature of the grilles, it’s a look that works well in this two-door body-style. While some pundits may drone on about how it detracts from what a Bimmer is supposed to look like, we happen to think it looks great.
It’s here to stay too, so if you have any gripes about this new look, you'd best get over it soon.
The retractable metal hardtop in the F33 generation car has been ditched in favour of a new panel bow canvas soft top which shaves 40 per cent of weight off the metal canopy of the previous 4 Series. The (new and improved) fabric roof complements the sleek silhouette of the car, regardless of whether the driver decides to put it up or leave it topless.
Additionally, the folding roof stows itself in 18 seconds while you’re travelling at speeds of up to 50km/h. A neat trick that’ll no doubt come in handy once the going gets a little too balmy for your taste.
Especially in Singapore where the tropical heat soars past 32˚C on most days and the average annual humidity hovers around the 90 per cent mark.
Letting the top down allows the tan Cognac Vernasca leather seats to shimmer in the sun, a real treat for the eyes that’ll probably make other road users bleed with envy as they gawk at this convertible. (Have I already mentioned that the Sanremo Green looks absolutely lovely as it glints in the sun?)
On the inside, it’s business as usual à-la-BMW, which means an impeccably well-finished interior that is luxuriously uncomplicated. The aforementioned Cognac leather has been overlaid across all seats, the dash and the door cards.
The 430i Convertible has all the safety systems as the coupe, with the addition of a rollover protection system. So in the highly unlikely event that your car does a somersault, two struts tucked behind the rear headsets will snap into place to keep your head on your shoulders.
All 4 Series Convertible models bound for Singapore will be optioned with BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, which nets you a 10.25-inch infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Our 430i Sport Pro test car also came fitted with additional trappings like a heads up display and a splendid 12-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. Features which would be a cost option on the lower-tiered 420i.
But you don’t drive a convertible for a high-fidelity audiophile experience, not even if its trick folding roof has solid noise insulation panels to keep NVH levels to (an acceptable) minimum.
You drive one to feel the sun in your face, the wind in your hair and to hear the roar of the engine belting out sonorous tones through the exhaust. In this particular case, the symphony of revs comes courtesy of a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot that lets out a raucous guffaw with every upshift and burbles on downshifts.
Of course, you’d be more interested in the car’s performance figures. So here they are: 258 horsepower coming in at 5000rpm, 400Nm of torque that comes in at just 1550rpm. All this is routed through an 8spd Steptronic auto that is creamy-smooth one minute, but sharp and aggressive when you put your foot down.
Punchy numbers, but one has to remember that this is a fairly heavy car that tips the scales at just under 1.8-tonnes. The additional components needed to strengthen and stiffen the car account for a 170kg weight gain over the hardtop 4 Series.
As a result, 0-100km/h takes 6.2secs, a shade under the hardtop’s 5.8secs century sprint.
So the topless model’s put on a few pounds and she’s a little slower in getting up to speed, but so what? You’d be hard pressed to feel much of a difference between this and the Coupe.
The car still retains an almost 50:50 weight split between the front and rear so you could dart into a corner at speed and come out the other end gracefully. And with the roof up, the 430i Convertible feels just as stiff and composed as the coupe. It's no stretch to say that you'd be lulled into thinking it had a fixed roof.
While I may still prefer spending my days in something with a fixed roof over my head, I actually spent most of my time in the 430i Convertible with the roof down.
Predictably, I emerged from the car a few shades darker than before. Now, where’s that bottle of SPF 50 I stashed away?
Despite my preconceived notions about convertibles, I genuinely enjoyed my time in the Bimmer – it is a fantastic machine in which to enjoy the best of our Singapore Summer.
PHOTOS Jay Tee
BMW 430i Convertible Sport Pro
Engine 1998cc, inline-4 turbocharged
Transmission 8spd Steptronic auto
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Consumption 6.9-7.7l/100km (combined)