4 Series adds open-air panache

It’s been 35 years since BMW made a declaration about compact sporting convertibles by unveiling the soft-top 3 Series at the Frankfurt Motor Show. So it’s appropriate that we now take note of BMW’s latest interpretation of a bite-size convertible, the 4 Series, starting with the line’s 430i. With the internal BMW model code of F33, the 430i’s folding fabric top chops about 40 percent of the up-high weight associated with the previous-generation car’s folding power cantilever hardtop. The top also features flush-fitting rear glass, multiple layers of insulation (yay!) and a fabric top cover in two colors that pulls stylishly taut once the roof is fully raised. Headroom also is expanded by two inches, and the above-the-beltline poundage reduction also allows for a lowered center of gravity.

The power top mechanism is robust enough that it can be lowered on the fly at speeds up to 31 MPH. With a wider track and longer wheelbase than its predecessor, the 4 Series begins with the turbocharged B46 four-cylinder engine, displacing 2.0 liters and producing 255 horsepower, and ranging up to something we really appreciate, the B58 turbocharged straight-six, capable of generating 382 horsepower with a delicious, muted exhaust tune. Pricing begins at $53,100. Rear-drive models go on sale early next year, to be followed by xDrive variants.

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