BMW 4 Series Convertible (2013-2020) Review
A fun driving experience, strong engine lineup and an unusual folding-metal roof set the BMW 4 Series Convertible apart
Strengths & weaknesses
The BMW 4 Series Convertible is unusual for a four-seater open-top car in that it uses a folding metal hard-top rather than a fabric hood, unlike its main rivals form Audi and Mercedes.
Using a folding metal roof offers advantages in terms of better security and a more refined interior when the roof is up, plus it looks sleeker than a fabric hood and the elaborate folding process offers a spot of kerbside theatre when you fold it down.
However, it does take up rather a lot of space when it’s stowed away in the boot and weighs quite a bit more than a fabric hood - which has an effect on both the way the car handles corners and on its fuel consumption. In fact, it’s perhaps telling that the BMW 4 Series Convertible reverted to using a fabric hood when the model was replaced in 2020.
Nevertheless, and despite the extra weight, the version of the 4 Series Convertible built between 2013 and 2020 is still more fun to drive than both the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet and the Audi A5 Cabriolet.
It doesn’t feel quite as agile as the regular coupe version of the 4 Series, but unless you were to compare the two back to back, you most likely wouldn’t notice a huge difference. It also offers a smoother ride than the coupe model.
The dashboard is essentially identical to that of the 3 Series of the same era, but there's no need to worry about that, because it means the build quality is top-notch, the design is logical and intuitive, and the central information screen is easy to read and use.
The level of standard equipment is impressive too, with leather seats, heated seats in the front, parking sensors and climate control as standard on every car. Models built after 2015 got the option of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, too, though this was never standard-fit.
Front-seat occupants are well catered-for in terms of space, but rear-seat legroom and headroom is severely limited. That’s pretty common for this type of four-seat convertible, but the bulky folding metal hard-top makes it even more of an issue for the 4 Series than it is for fabric-roofed rivals.
There’s a choice of three petrol and three diesel engines. All are turbocharged, and all are reasonably fuel-efficent - especially the diesels, which suit drivers who notch up lots of miles.
Petrol power options include the 184hp 420i and 256hp 430i four-cylinder models, while the top-specification petrol model in later cars is the 326hp six-cylinder 440i, although earlier cars were available as a 245hp 428i and a 306hp 435i before the 430i and 440i were introduced.
Diesel power comes in the form of the 2.0-litre, 190hp 420d plus the six-cylinder 258hp 430d and 313hp 435d. The 420d is fuel-efficient but a little noisy, while the more powerful six-cylinder models are much smoother and notably faster but a little heavier on fuel.
At the top of the range you’ll find the M4 Convertible. Depending on spec, this has between 431hp and 450hp and is capable of gettting from 0-62mph in a rapid 4.4 seconds.
Most models come with a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, but entry-level petrol and diesel cars get a six-speed manual as standard. The M4 version features a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Should I get a BMW 4 Series Convertible?
✔ The most fun four-seat convertible to drive
✔ Folding metal roof offers security benefits
✔ Powerful petrol engines and fuel-efficient diesels
✘ Tight rear-seat passenger space
✘ Roof takes up lots of space in already small boot
✘ Metal roof adds a lot of weight
Despite the extra weight and complexity of its roof mechanism, the BMW 4 Series Convertible is still one of the best-driving four-seat convertibles around when it comes to having fun, thanks to an impressive suspension setup and a range of powerful engines.
Go for one of the diesel models and you’ll find surprisingly good fuel economy is possible, too.
If you regularly need to carry passengers in the rear seats, then this may not be the best car for you, though, as the folding roof mechanism robs the back seats of leg room.
- Models explained
- Trim levels
- Best 4 Series for...
- Boot space
- Should I buy used?
BMW 4 Series Convertible
With sleek looks and the prospect of open-topped motoring but with the refinement of a metal roof, the 4 Series Convertible is noticeably more glamorous than the 3 Series that it’s based on. It’s also impressively agile and fun to drive, despite the extra weight of the roof mechanism.
It’s not the most practical of cars, however, with limited boot space compared with the coupe version of the 4 Series, and restricted rear seat room.
On the other hand, it does share a range of excellent engines with the BMW 3 Series, including some powerful petrol engines and impressively economical diesel models. It’s just a shame that the plug-in hybrid 330e model has no equivalent in the 4 Series Convertible lineup.
BMW M4 (Competition) Convertible
From a distance, it would be easy to mistake the M4 for a more ordinary 4 Series, but on closer inspection, you’ll see that it has much more sporty, aggressive-looking styling, while some unique paint options help it further stand out from the rest of the range.
You also get much more sporty handling, combined with seriously rapid performance from the 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine - which produces between 431hp and 450hp depending on spec.
The M4 also has a different gearbox to other 4 Series models, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic rather than the eight-speed standard automatic in most 4 Series models. This makes gearchanges faster, but they can feel jerkier, too.
|SE||Limited stock: Leather seats, parking sensors and dual-zone climate control are all standard even on this entry-level trim, making it much better equipped than a basic 3 Series. This trim level was dropped towards the end of 2017.|
|Modern||Limited stock: In Modern trim, the 4 Series Convertible features similar chrome exterior detailing to the SE, but bigger 18-inch alloy wheels. There are also body-hugging sports seats. This trim was dropped in 2014.|
|Sport||Limited stock: A different front grille design, unique 18-inch alloy wheel designs, gloss black exterior trim and red interior detailing help to set the Sport trim level apart.|
|Luxury||Limited stock: Luxury cars get the same rough equipment levels as M Sport models, but with a less sporty design focus. Instead, there’s chrome detailing rather than black, wood veneer inserts and lighter leather choices. This trim was also dropped in 2017.|
|M Sport||From £17,950: M Sport tops the range when it comes to trim levels, and it’s a very popular choice. It gets M Sport-specific suspension that’s firm and sporty-feeling, plus unique exterior and interior styling details and an M Sport sports steering wheel|
All the engine options for the 4 Series Convertible are impressively capable, but the one with the broadest range of appeal and ability is probably the 420d’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel motor.
It’s sufficiently punchy, with 190hp (184hp before 2016), which is enough to get the car from 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds. In addition, it delivers its power at low engine speeds, giving it good overtaking ability.
And when it comes to fuel efficiency, this glamorous convertible can deliver fuel economy of 50mpg-plus making it impressively cheap to run.
Everything from fuel-sipping diesel efficiency to sports car performance is available in the 4 Series Convertible range.
|BMW 420d: This version offers 50mpg fuel economy, which is pretty fuel-efficient in itself, but combined with the capacity to deliver effortless overtaking and motorway performance - thanks to it 190hp power output - it makes a great value option.|
|BMW 430d: The six-cylinder diesel engine in the 430d is powerful enough to provide effortless performance, yet still delivers fuel economy in excess of 40mpg. That’s about as close as you’ll get to a 4 Series Convertible that’s suitable for families, as boot space and rear-seat space is tight in all models.|
|BMW M4 Competition: The M4 Convertible delivers a true sports car experience, thanks to the work of BMW’s performance car experts, known as M Division. With the Competition version of this car, power increases to a hefty 450hp from 431hp.|
|BMW 420i: The 184hp 2.0-litre petrol in the 420i has about as much power as the diesel 420d, but you have to work the car’s engine much harder to get the best from it, meaning it’s a less relaxing car to drive.|
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The main rival for the early versions of this iteration of the 4 Series Convertible was the first generation of the Audi A5 Cabriolet. This is an older design than the equivalent 4 Series, so although the Audi is stylish and solidly built, it feels a little behind the times in terms of technology. That changed in 2016 when a redesigned - and impressively capable - Audi A5 was introduced.
In 2017, Mercedes introduced a Cabriolet version of the C-Class. Although this is perhaps flashier inside than the 4 Series, it doesn’t feel quite as solid in terms of build quality - although the Audi feels like an even more solidly built car than either the Mercedes or BMW.
The BMW is more fun to drive than both the Mercedes and Audi, although the later Audi A5 models run it close.
If you fancy a convertible with more of an American feel, then you can go for the stylish Ford Mustang, which became available in right-hand drive in the UK for the first time in 2015. There’s a choice of a 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol and a muscular, musical-sounding 5.0-litre V8. It’s an undeniably cool choice, but it is quite brash, plus rather cramped inside for such a large car.
BMW 4 Series Convertible practicality: dimensions and boot space
The BMW 4 Series Convertible is 4,638mm long. This means it’s almost identical in length to the 3 Series saloon, but it’s a few centimetres broader and a little lower, at 1,825mm wide (over 2 metres with the door mirrors included) and just 1,384mm tall, which helps to give the 4 Series a sleek, sporty look.
It’s noticeably larger than two-seater roadsters such as the Porsche Boxster, but it is almost identical in its key measurements to rival convertibles from Mercedes and Audi. It’s much more petite than the Ford Mustang, however, which is almost 10cm wider and 15cm longer than the BMW.
|Length 4,638mm||Width 1,825mm|
|Height 1,384mm||Weight 1,650kg - 1,905kg|
The BMW 4 Series Convertible offers 370 litres of boot space, which reduces when you fold the roof down to a much less useful 225 litres. That’s a bigger sacrifice than you have to make with its key fabric-roofed rivals, as the BMW can’t tuck away its bulky metal roof mechanism away as neatly.
The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, for example, gets 360 litres with the roof up - less than the BMW manages - but this only drops to 285 litres with the roof folded down, which makes it easier to fit a good amount of luggage in with the roof down than with the BMW.
The Audi, meanwhile, can deliver 380 litres of boot space with the roof up and 320 litres with it down, making it the practical option.
|Roof up 370 litres||Roof down 225 litres|
You would perhaps expect trouble-free reliability from a premium brand such as BMW, but that isn’t necessarily the case with BMW.
In fact, in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey, the 4 Series (the coupe and convertible models combined) came in a lowly 68th out of 75 models surveyed. A third of owners reported problems with brakes, suspension or electrical issues.
Nevertheless, owners still enjoyed the car overall, particularly praising the 4 Series for its performance, ride quality and how easy it is to drive.
You get a three-year warranty with BMW from new, so models are out of their manufacturer warranty periods rather quickly, compared with a number of other new cars. An aftermarket warranty is therefore worth considering - particularly if the car you’re looking at is more than three years old.
BMW’s own approved used scheme offers a 12-month warranty on its older cars as standard.
Cars still within their warranty do have the benefit of no mileage cap, too, unlike rivals Mercedes and Audi, which have a limit on their three-year warranties at 60,000 miles. This means that high-mileage drivers after a relatively new car may get greater benefit from the BMW's warranty than with an equivalent Mercedes or Audi.
|3 years||Unlimited miles|
AVERAGE REPAIR COST PAID BY WARRANTYWISE: £721
Whichever 4 Series you opt for, you’ll be guaranteed an attractive-looking model with plenty of equipment, including built-in sat-nav, cruise control and leather seats: this is definitely a premium-feeling product.
So in order to find the one that’s right for you, your choice will largely be down to which engine you want - with appealing petrol and diesel options available.
The best options here are either the powerful six-cylinder petrol models (the 435i, 440i or even the range-topping M4) for refinement, performance and driving engagement or the much more economical but less attractive-sounding diesels. Of these, the best choice is the 420d, which makes for a fantastic all-rounder as it balances good performance with the genuine possibility of 50mpg fuel economy.
Diesel might not be the most glamorous choice for a convertible car, but the four-cylinder and six-cylinder diesels in the 4 Series Convertible are genuinely impressive powerplants. They combine strong performance and impressively low running costs.
The trim levels on offer were reduced during the course of the model life of this version of the 4 Series. This means that more recent versions are only available in the swish-looking Sport specification or the top-spec M Sport trim. Look out for an M Sport Plus model and you’ll get extra goodies such as a Harman Kardon stereo or 19-inch alloy wheels, too.
As regards the broader trim choices available for earlier cars, the entry-level SE model is a good option, as you still get leather seats, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels.
*Representative PCP finance - 2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0 ST-Line Hatchback:
|PCP representative example||APR rates available|
|Cash price £12,000||APR 7.90%||Value of loan||From|
|Fixed monthly payment £218.12||Annual mileage of 8,000pa||£25,000+||6.9%|
|Total cost of credit £2,755.55||Term 48 months||£12,000-£24,999||7.9%|
|Optional final payment £4,285.79||Loan value £12,000||£8,000-£11,999||8.9%|
|Total amount payable £14,755.55||Deposit £0||<8,000||9.9%|
BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.
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