BMW‘s controversially-styled new 4-series is now available with infinite headroom. To go with the eyebrow-raising looks, the latest 4er convertible - like its Z4 stablemate and the next-generation Mercedes SL - has ditched the complex folding hardtop used by its predecessor, switching to a fabric roof.
Soft tops are better than ever at keeping the noise out, meaning folding metals roofs are slowly being consigned to the history books in the name of weight saving. Speaking of, the new arrangement is 40 per cent lighter than the old 4er’s roof.
It can be operated at speeds of up to 31mph and takes 17 seconds to close - seven seconds faster than a Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet manages. Reinforced side skirts, chassis bracing and a new aluminium shear panel should ensure the lack of fixed roof doesn’t turn the 4er into a blancmange in the corners.
BMW says it’s around four per cent stiffer than the car it replaces, which is good news since you can chuck up to 369bhp through the 4-series Convertible’s compromised chassis. Said output comes from the range-topping, turbo inline-six-powered M440i xDrive, although this will no doubt be superseded by a drop-top M4 at some point.
At the other end of the range is the 420i with a 182bhp, 221lbft inline-four turbo engine. The 430i uses the same unit, but a punchier tune to give 254bhp and 295lb ft of torque. If you’re happy filling your ears with a diesel soundtrack when the roof is dropped, there’s also the option of a 420d, which produces 187bhp while matching the 430i’s torque figure. A 282bhp, 479lb ft 430d will join the ranks next summer.
Extra stiffening aside, the chassis is the same as the coupe’s. That means a 50/50 weight distribution, and wider tracks - they’ve grown by 28mm at the front and 18mm at the rear. Adaptive dampers are available and fitted as standard to the M440i along with an active locking rear differential.
Inside, it’s - quelle surprise - just like a 4-series coupe, only a little airier. You get the same dashboard with its 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch infotainment system. Whichever model you go for, three-zone climate control, a parking camera, electric seats and ambient lighting all feature as standard.
It’s available to order now starting at £45,785 for the 420i and rising to £58,865 for the M440i. The first UK cars will get here next March.