We’re in, boots and all: BMW 420i convertible
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BMW New Zealand’s 4 Series convertible line-up puts the boot into other convertibles on our market because of its boot, and nifty access to it.
Driven was given a 420i hard-top convertible as a long-term loan vehicle during late summer and the beginning of autumn to gauge what it’s like to drive an open-topper for a substantial period of time, rather than the standard seven-day schedule for test cars.
The 4 Series convertible is 4638mm long, 1835mm wide and 1384mm high with headroom of 1025mm for the front passengers and 942mm for rear passengers.
The boot space varies between 220 and 370 litres depending on whether you have the roof off, as a luggage cover limits your space.
The 420i has BMW's new 2-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine producing 135kW of power and 270Nm of torque, and is paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.
My test vehicle had the great colour combination of glacier silver metallic exterior and cream leather seats.
Standard features are bi-xenon headlights, reversing cameras, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, pre-collision safety pack, parking sensors, active cruise control with collision warning, auto emergency braking and pedestrian warning plus surround-view cameras.
My model came with sport line features including high-gloss black vertical kidney grille slats and black exterior mirrors.
There is a black chrome tailpipe and the “Sport” logo above the air breathers. The sport line also includes a Sport + mode using the driving experience control that boosts agility to give a dynamic performance.
The hard top retracts in 28 seconds using the key fob (so you can open it when walking towards the 420i) or via a release latch in the cabin that takes 20 seconds to open or close at speeds up to 20km/h.
But it’s a new function in the boot that will make the competition pay attention. Usually with the roof folded away, access to the boot is limited and you have to ram shopping or gear into a narrow space.
But smart BMW has fixed that with a loading aid.
Photo / Ted Baghurst
Buttons on the opened tailgate raise then lower the entire folded roof unit so you can access the luggage space.
The hydraulic system means you can load bulky items without having to close the roof, and also means you can use all the boot.
And it does work. During the cooler autumn days, I drove to my local supermarket and left the roof off, without having to worry about the leather seats cooking while I was away.
When I returned to the car laden with shopping, I didn’t have to raise the roof, instead I operated the loading aid, lifted up the luggage cover, stored all the food, clicked the luggage cover back in place and then folded the roof back into place.
It also came to the fore when I visited friends who own a BMW convertible. I was giving my friend, Ash, and her daughter, Laura, a lift to see their new horse and demonstrated opening the roof off the fob (that their soft-top couldn’t do). But Laura had a large bucket with her and I didn’t want it on my lovely cream leather seats.
Before they could say, “close the roof so we can store the bucket in the back”, I had operated the loading aid. Again, tick for my 420i convertible and a cross to their model.
While there aren’t many new hard-top convertibles available in our market, you can expect other premium brands to follow suit with their own versions of this loading aid.
As in my 420i convertible, something you’ll find in other European marques is through-loading systems, which help increase available storage space.
The rear seat backrests fold down so you can slide large pieces of luggage through, such as a second golf bag (hey, I don’t even own one golf bag), snowboards (nope), skis (no thanks) or flat-pack desks (yes).