2015 BMW 228i xDrive Cabriolet

2015 BMW 228i xDrive Cabriolet

Dropping the top on BMW’s playful 2 series


 Let’s make one thing clear straight away: convertibles don’t make good sports cars. Yes, you can buy Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis in convertible form and they hardly suffer any penalty in terms of sharpness and precision, but when you pony up north of $200,000 for a car you’re darn tootin’ you should have your cake and eat it too. The fact remains that removing a major structural component like a roof has a detrimental effect on handling and feel. Even cars that have been designed from the outset to become drop tops have to deal with some degree of compromise, and the BMW 228i Cabriolet you see here is not immune to this affliction.

We’ve sampled the 2-series in various iterations and have consistently come away with the prevailing feeling that it’s the sweetheart of the entire BMW product lineup. It’s perfectly sized and similar in dimensions to the E46 versions of yesterday, and comes closest to offering access to the lush garden of dynamic delights BMW used to be so famous for. 

PROS: Excellent chassis, less-is-more powertrain, convertible top lowers quickly and doesn’t leave you without space to put your stuff.

CONS: Pricey, heavy, open-top compromises mean it isn’t going to be quite as fun to drive as its coupe counterpart.

THE VERDICT: The sweetheart of BWM’s lineup will now allow you to work on your tan.

You can have an M235i Cabriolet as well, complete with its peerless inline-six turbo and strong performance metrics, and you can choose whether you’d like to shift gears yourself or move to the 8-speed automatic option which happens to be the only gearbox available for 228i trims. Go for the full-flavoured 2 series and you’ll have to make quite the jump in price to do so- those two cylinders and extra grunt will set you back an additional $6,700 and that’s before you’ve added any options. Budget minded shoppers should stick to the 228.

Guess what? That’s not a bad thing at all- you’ll never feel like you had to settle for second best. While the 228 may be on the lower end of the 2 series model range, it is so much more rewarding than its hierarchical standing would suggest.

We’ve gone on and on about how stalwart BMW enthusiasts pine for the days when the aforementioned E46 3 series roamed the streets (widely coveted as the most desirable vintage of 3 series) and how the 2 series seems to capture all that magic where other models in the brand seem to lose focus on what made BMW’s so great- precise chassis, incomparable engines and just enough luxury touches to spoil those on board. The 228i Cabriolet successfully recaptures some of the magic.

Whoever spec’ed our tester was clearly trying to make the driver forget about passing over the more powerful M235i. Other than giving up the bigger engine, all the other performance goodies were present and accounted for: the bigger brakes and high performance tires courtesy of the M Track Package ($1,200), M Aerodynamics Package and Adaptive M Suspension, part of the M Sport Line ($2,000) and Performance Package ($1,200) respectively. It all adds up to a thoroughly entertaining little convertible, and one we’d eagerly take over its bigger and more expensive 4 series stablemate.

The folding soft top is dispatched in 20 seconds and can be lowered or raised at speeds approaching 50 km/h. Our time with the 228i Cabriolet occurred in the prime of summer with almost 7 straight days of perfect weather. Personally, I’d rather go with a tin-topped version of a performance car over a drop top of given the choice, but even I had to admit to relishing the joys of al fresco motoring. It really does offer a more immersive driving experience that lowering the windows and opening the sunroof just can’t match. And because it’s a 2 series, the chassis bits kept reminding us how incredibly fun this thing is to drive- a structure that feels satisfyingly robust, excellent balance and steering that’s both feelsome and direct. We’ve had some pretty potent cars in the Carpages Garage as of late, and this 228i provided enough thrills that we’d be quick to mention it near that top of the list when someone asks “so, driven anything cool lately?”

That the 228i Cabriolet isn’t perfect should surprise exactly no one, but what will take anyone aback is the price- our tester’s grand total rang in at $56,190. Sure, it’s loaded with all kinds of goodies, but it hasn’t got everything (what, no keyless access at the price?!) To put that into perspective, kick in another $7,000 and you’ll be shopping for serious sports cars like the Chevy Corvette and Porsche Boxter. It also isn’t the most practical steed- long trips are much more suitable for two only even though there are rear seats (and pack light too, because the trunk isn’t exactly cavernous- blame the need to make room for the top when stowed.) Bumpy roads and railway crossings will expose a small amount of chassis squirm and cowl shake, but what do you expect of a roofless car that hasn’t had multiple kilos of bracing added to it?

At the moment the most direct competitor the 228i Cabriolet has is the Audi A3 which also comes in convertible form. A good car in its own right, it simply can’t come close to delivering that intoxicating cocktail of both open air motoring and driving thrills. Convertibles may not make the best sports cars, but the 228i you see here comes pretty close.

2015 BMW 228i xDrive Cabriolet— Specifications

  • Price as tested: $56,190
  • Body Type: 2-door, 4 passenger cabriolet
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Engine:  2.0-litre inline-four turbo, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower: 241 @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
  • Torque (lbs/ft): 258 @ 1,250-4,800 rpm
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Curb weight: 1,798 kg (3,765 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel consumption: 10.7L/100km (22 mpg)