Offering an open-air alternative to the automaker's recently introduced 4 Series Coupe, the wraps have now come off of the 2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible. Set for its formal debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month, it will arrive in showrooms here during the first quarter of next year in two familiar model designations: the 428i that starts at $49,675 and the 435i that commences at $55,825. Like the Coupe, the 4 Series Convertible will be offered in base, Sport Line, Luxury Line and M Sport trims that add visual distinction as well as functional enhancements.
Slightly larger and wider than the existing 3 Series cabriolet and with a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase, the 4 Series Convertible shares virtually all of its engineering, styling and technological elements with the 4 Series Coupe.
That includes everything from a pair of highly efficient TwinPower Turbo engines that feature Auto Start-Stop and EcoPro Mode to the availability of BMW's latest Navigation package, iDrive 4.2 with Touchpad and an optional color heads up display. Where their paths diverge is above the beltline.
Unlike its hard-shell kin, the 4 Series Convertible is crowned with a 3-piece/1-touch power retractable top that can cycle in 20 seconds even while the car is travelling at speeds up to 11 mph. Similar in design to the one found on the existing 3 Series cabrio, the new top's headliner boasts additional sound deadener for even quieter top-up motoring and a lighter, more compact windblocker to quell buffeting when you're running in al fresco mode. While retracting this lightweight lid does trim trunk capacity from 13.0 cu ft to 7.8 cu ft, it's designed to offer better cargo access and features an electro-hydraulic loading assist system that automatically positions the folded top elements to optimize the space that does exist.
Motivating the 428i Convertible is BMW's 2.0-liter/240-horsepower 4-cylinder while its 435i counterpart packs the firm's 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes 300 horses. Both of these torque-rich engines are backed by a ZF 8-speed Sport automatic transmission that enhances its Normal and Sport settings with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. Power gets sent to the rear wheels in base form, but BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive will be optional on the 428i from launch and will be offered on the 435i at some point in the future.
Structurally, the new 4 Series Convertible boasts 40 percent greater torsional rigidity than its 3 Series predecessor and is up to 44 pounds lighter with a lower center of gravity. While sharing the same basic chassis elements as the 4 Series Coupe, the drop-top's underpinnings - whether standard, stiffer Adaptive M Sport (Sport Line and M Sport) or the lowered Adaptive suspension in non-xDrive models with the Dynamic Handling Package - have been specifically tuned for this application. Combine those factors with its near 50/50 weight distribution and the 4 Series Convertible promises to match its inherent quickness (0-60 mph in 6.2 seconds for the 428i and 5.5 ticks for the 435i) with Ultimate Driving Machine agility.
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