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PUBLISHED: 10:15 23 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:15 23 June 2015

BMW test drive

BMW test drive

Archant

BMW’s new 2 Series Convertible will mean there will be many happy to swap their current car of choice for this soft top, writes Carlton Boyce

BMW’S 2 Series range continues to grow with the addition of a convertible model. It’s an obvious move, given the affection with which convertible BMWs are held, yet it’s not without risk as it places the Bavarian car head-to-head with some high-end rivals, including the brilliant Audi A3.

For me, the 2 Series Convertible is a two-seater. Yes, you can fit small children in the back, but even they will complain at the lack of legroom after a few miles. That this is the extent of the bad news tells you just how good the rest of the car is. For a start, it’s a handsome thing; very handsome indeed, with a tautness and muscularity that looks even better in real life than in the publicity shots.

Convertibles are all about the roof and this is a good one; it can be electronically raised or stowed in under 20 seconds and, best of all, it can be done on the move at speeds of up to 31mph, helping you eke out the sun’s rays until the very last moment. It’s also very well insulated, making it one of the quieter convertibles in its class.

The interior is exactly what you’d expect from a modern BMW and the lack of rear-seat legroom does mean that the space for the front seat occupants is better than average and helps make it feel like you are driving a bigger car than you actually are.

Four trim levels are offered: Sport, Luxury and M Sport, with the top-of-the-range M235i getting a trim level all of its own. All are appealing but it’s easy to get carried away and find yourself inexorably climbing the ladder all the way. And then there is the extensive options list to consider, offering a bewildering range of stuff you probably don’t need.

The entry-level model is the 134bhp, 1.6-litre petrol for just over £26,000 with a manual gearbox. It’s a decent enough car, feeling very well balanced, but for a relatively small increase you can choose between petrol and diesel, both in four-cylinder, 2.0-litre form; respectively named the 220i and 220d. Both start at just under £30,000 and are worth the premium over the 218i. The addition of an automatic gearbox adds around £1,500, which is probably worth paying as it offers some real advantages in drivability and economy.

Power fiends can opt for the turbocharged ‘four’ in the 228i. Boasting 245bhp, the £31,550 model offers probably as much performance as anyone really needs in a car of this type. The six-cylinder M235i tops the range. It’s a glorious engine and a fine chassis, but it does cost more than £37,000 — and that’s before you even glance at the options list.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, the 220d Sport with an automatic gearbox and a nice metallic paintjob can be had for under £32,000, which seems like fine value to me. Residual values should be good too, just in case you need any further persuasion.

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