BMW sharpens-up its classic four-seat hardtop cabriolet; Road Test Editor Howard Walker breaks out the SPF30!
Snapper Rocks. I’ve wracked my brain to fathom just how the bluey-aqua color adorning the latest ‘18 BMW 430i convertible I’ve been driving, has anything to do with rocking snappers. But I’m at a loss.
“Snapper Rocks down by the docks, just waiting for the hook. Snapper Rocks takes the bait, and now it’s time to cook.” Definitely have the makings of a Jimmy Buffett song. All I know is that this is about the most perfect color for a Florida convertible. And, the 430i might just be the most perfect convertible for our Floridian lifestyle.
How come? For starters it’s a hardtop convertible. So in the furnace heat of summer, when only the craziest of Scandawegian tourists would dream of driving a convertible with the top down, the BMW morphs into a sleek, elegant slim-pillared, air-conditioned coupe. But then, like now, when the weather just doesn’t get any more magnificent, the BMW’s hardtop glides back in less than 20 seconds, opening the cabin to all that nourishing Vitamin D.
The other huge appeal of the 430i is that it’s a proper four-seater. OK, knee room in the back might be a little tight, but it’s enough to ferry a couple of friends down to the beach for a sunset stroll. What I also love about this new BMW droptop is that it’s designed just as much for comfort as speed.
Yes, you can pay big for an M4 convertible with a fire-breathing 425-horsepower 3.0-liter twin-turbo and teeth-rattling suspension. Or there’s a 440i Convertible with a 320-horse 3.0-liter turbo Six. But they both seem so frenetic compared to this 430i with its more genteel 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo.
Not that it’s a slouch. Far from it. It packs a 248-horsepower punch with all the giddy-up to lunge it from standstill to 60mph in a shade under six seconds. Yet somehow, the combination of turbo power and a rapid-shifting 8-speed automatic, makes the 430i feel way zippier than the stopwatch figures suggest. It scoots away from the stoplight, has plenty of low-speed torque to whisk past slower traffic on a two-lane, and cruises at 75mph on I-75 with hardly a murmur from under the hood. And did I mention the 430i can average an impressive 34 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg around town, and deliver a combined EPA average of 27 mpg?
Through the twisties, the Bimmer has a lightness and agility that make it a pure delight to drive. The steering is precise and oh-so-nicely-weighted, the ride is firm without being jarring, and when you want to pick up the pace, the Dynamic Driving Control gives you the choice of Comfort, Sport and Sport+ chassis settings.
Inside, the quality, the fit, the finish and style is just exquisite. Those leather-trimmed front sports seats hold you tightly in place like a hug from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The huge instruments define easy-to-read clarity.
BMW gave the 430i a mid-life makeover last year, redesigning the front end with more dramatic lower sculpting and new LED headlights, offering new wheel designs and installing full LED rear lights. Top up, or top down, this is such a pretty car with great proportions, crisp lines, and lovely detailing. And it is such a timeless design that I reckon it will still look just as sexy in 20 years time.
Pricing starts at $52,445 for a base 430i, though in true BMW style you’ll want to load-up on options. Like that Snapper Rocks Blue Metallic paint ($550), the M Sport Package ($2,300) that adds 18-inch M-Star wheels, sports seats, grippier M steering wheel, aluminum-carbon trim, and the Harman Kardon surround sound audio system ($875). Our tester topped out at $63,310.
For me, this car checks all the right boxes for a beautifully-built, super-easy-to-live-with hardtop convertible that makes the most of our Sunshine State climate. You should go try one for size. Don’t forget to take the SPF30!
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