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BMW�s 2 Series Cabrio oozing style

11.06.2015

WHEN was the last time I drove a manual BMW? This is the question I asked myself as I stepped inside the shiny 220i cabriolet press vehicle equipped with that elusive third pedal. It was a big moment for me as a petrol head because I know deep down that manual gearboxes are on their way out, so to find one in something as unassuming as the convertible 2 Series was refreshing.

The 2 Series is a great car and one that, in hard-top guise, I’ve experienced several variants of, but this was my first encounter with the 220i convertible and it was kitted with the M Sport styling pack. You pay around R70 000 more to have the open-top variant versus the equivalent hard-top model. For your extra money you get infinite head room, an extra 235kg kerb mass (1 350kg versus 1 585kg) a smaller boot with 280-335 litres, depending on the retractable roof versus 390 litres in the coupé.

Not all of this sounds that positive but it is par for the course with convertible models these days bar those that use an ultra-stiff carbon monocoque chassis. It’s added mass isn’t for nothing though, with the weight being a result of extra strengthening made to the vehicle’s body structure, making it some 20 percent stiffer than the old 1 Series cabriolet. That means, the car does still handle very well.

The additional weight and smaller boot won’t really have an impact on the budding cabriolet buyer as generally speaking they’re less into performance and practicality and more into style and image. In that regard the drop-top 2 Series delivers. It boasts a stylish and efficient fabric top, and with special reference to the press unit with the sporty regalia, a lot of road presence.

Inside, there is a familiar cockpit design with the use of orange lighting for the trip computer and climate control, while the fixed infotainment system controlled by the iDrive toggle and multi-function steering wheel remain. Soft-touch material abounds, with the occasional piece of noticeable plastic.

I do think the six-speed manual transmission is a bit out of tune with the relaxed experience a  potential buyer of this car wants, so I’d opt for the ZF eight-speed in this model. The engine is the 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre turbo motor from many other BMW models and it worked a treat with decent fuel returns of around 8.9 litres/100km during my tenure, enough grunt for overtaking and the occasional blast.

Overall, the 2 Series cabriolet is a worthy successor to the old 1 Series version. Not only is it stiffer and more dynamic but it also has a range of more efficient engines. It looks better and exhibits higher levels of quality inside. The price is steep but in the premium small cabriolet segment it would be ignorant to expect affordability to be the main factor in the purchasing decision.

Article written by Sean Nurse
11.06.2015
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