2021 BMW 430i Convertible review: Be a lifelong convert

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The switch to a soft top is exactly what makes this 4 Series Convertible so much better than the last one (pictured below). 

That’s mostly because folding hard tops are, mechanically speaking, lousy. They might look good and feel secure, but they take up plenty of space, they weigh a lot and they impose their weight high up in a car, screwing up its centre of gravity. You felt this in the way the previous open-top 4 Series squirmed around under you through a corner.

This new ragtop 430i is so much better to drive. It has the same fluid way of pouring itself into a bend that you get in the 4 Series Coupe, and that same sense of composure all the way through it. It’s not scalpel sharp, but it feels taut and willing, which is how a BMW should feel.

The BMW 430i Convertible 0 to 100 time is 6.2 seconds

To match the polished handling, the engine spins eagerly and pulls hard, although you do feel it work hard to haul the 430i’s weight along. It might have a cloth top now, but the 4 Series Convertible is a heavy car — the 430i is 170kg heavier than the 430i Coupe.

The extra weight is the price of the body’s rigidity. When you subtract a car’s roof you have to add bracing material so the body doesn’t end up as wobbly as a local blogger’s vocabulary, and here it’s been done to good effect. You do feel the steering wheel shudder in your hands when you cross a bit of knobbly tarmac, but the BMW otherwise feels admirably strong for an open top car.

It’s actually superb as a closed car, too, meaning when the roof is up it’s remarkably quiet. You hear more from the tyres than from the wind rushing past the windows, mirrors and pillars. BMW says that a series of “bow panels” help with noise and thermal insulation. Here’s what one of them looks like:

BMW 4 Series bow panel roof

The bow panels apparently also give the cloth top its crisp edges and well-defined lines, while avoiding the tent-like look that fabric roofs sometimes have. The ragtop 4 Series is now soft on top, but it’s not saggy.

If anything, this might be the one Convertible that actually looks a bit better with the top up, given the way the roofline flows down to meet the body.

And as heavy as the Convertible is, the roof is a fat-free zone. The cloth top is 40 percent lighter than the previous model’s metal roof, and it eats up less boot space.

Ultimately, you’re still left with just 300 litres (quite a lot more than the 260 litres you get in a C-Class Cabriolet, mind you) if the separator for the folded top is down, like so:

If you can abstain from folding the roof, you can free up an extra 85 litres in the shape of a more usable space, which should work for most things unless you happen to be grandfather clock collector. Here’s what the boot looks like when you shove the roof separator out of the way:

If the boot is decently useful, the same applies to the rear seats, which are surprisingly habitable for two. You’ll never buy a cabrio for a family bus, but at least with the 430i Convertible, none of the usual soft-top compromises really feels like a major deal-breaker.

BMW 4 Series Convertible rear seats room

Yet, much the same is true to the BMW’s competition. It goes up against the Audi A5 Cabriolet and Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, both of which are extremely well-sorted machines.

But if you want your German four-seat cabrio a bit spirited, it’s going to have to be the BMW. The Mercedes is only offered as a C 180 with 156 horsepower, so it’s the most leisurely of the lot. Meanwhile the Audi comes with 190hp under the bonnet, which slightly pips the BMW 420i M Sport, with its 184hp engine and a slower 0 to 100km/h time of 8.2 seconds.

The BMW 430i has 258 horsepower

So that leaves the car you see here as the most energetic choice. The 430i M Sport Pro Convertible makes use of 258hp to zip to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds, which might not be enough to terrify, but is certainly enough to tickle.

Mind you, the most important timing figure of all could be 18 seconds, which is how long it takes for the BMW’s roof to fold in either direction. The 4 Series Convertible may have gone soft, but it can still get it up pretty quickly.

BMW 430i M Sport Pro Convertible

Engine1,998cc, inline 4, turbocharged 
Power258hp at 5,000 to 6,500rpm
Torque400Nm at 1,550-4,400rpm
Gearbox8-speed automatic 
0-100km/h6.2 seconds 
Top Speed250km/h
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
VES Band B
AgentPerformance Motors 
PriceS$303,888 with COE
VerdictNew 4 Series Convertible embraces a ragtop and is sharper and better packaged for it. The roof itself shows soft doesn’t have to mean saggy.

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about the author

Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 26 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.