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Driven: BMW’s drop-top 2 Series takes off

Two a tee: Despite family lines, the BMW 2 Series Convertible strikes out on its own with a bigger, more capable model.

New BMW 2 Series Convertible plans to reignite sportscar sales


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5 Mar 2015

BMW has opened the roof on its new convertible right as the once-sparkling sportscar market dropped 24.4 per cent in the first two months of this year.

That’s against a passenger car slip of 5.5 per cent and an SUV rise of 15.4 per cent in January and February compared with the same period in 2014.

Despite the sportscar downturn, BMW Australia head of product and market planning Shawn Ticehurst said that he is unconcerned.

“The 2 Series will outperform the 1-Series,” he said at the local media launch of the 2 Series Convertible in South Australia this week.

“This is at the affordable end of our product range and I expect it to really grow our volumes this year. It’s a classic BMW convertible.”

Mr Ticehurst said the 2 Series convertible – which the car-maker says is bigger, tauter, quicker, roomier and more economical than the 1 Series drop-top it replaces – will create significant conquest sales.

“The 1 Series convertible sold more than 5000 in Australia and made us the world’s fourth biggest market for the car.

“It shows that the market here loves convertibles.” Mr Ticehurst said the three variants of the 2 Series convertible will appeal in equal quantities to men and women buyers.

“One third of those will be aged under 30 years with the majority being aged 41 to 60,” he said.

“They are buyers seeking style and design as the biggest reasons for the purchase.”

But more importantly, he said 74 per cent of 1 Series convertible buyers were new to the BMW brand. He expects that figure to be the same for the new convertible.

“That’s a very important figure for us because it gets people, some who may not have considered a BMW previously, into the brand.”

One of the biggest lures is the price. The entry-level 220i starts at $54,900, plus on-road costs, a rise of about 7.5 per cent over the equivalent 1 Series predecessor despite major changes.

The next model up the ladder, the 228i, is $68,900 and the M235i will be $85,800 when it arrives in Australia in April.

Against rivals, the Audi A3 cabriolet starts at $47,600 and up to $70,500 for the M-fighter, the S3 quattro. The two-seater Mercedes-Benz SLK opens at $87,200 for the 1.8-litre SLK200.

The 2 Series convertible is richer in features and is a larger car. Compared with the previous convertible, it is 72mm longer, 26mm wider and has a rear track that is 41mm wider.

BMW has increased the number of layers in the cloth roof, up one to five, which has made substantial reductions to noise levels.

The company now claims identical cabin noise levels as the 2-Series coupe at speeds up to 120km/h.

“The new convertible is also more practical,” Mr Ticehurst said.

“Boot and rear seat access is improved. Over the 1 Series convertible, it has a boot that’s 10 per cent bigger and has a hatch that allows long items to extend through to the passenger compartment.”

The boot’s volume is 335 litres, which is impressive for a convertible. When the roof is folded down, the space is 280 litres.

Innovative features include anti-glare film over the central monitor and sun-reflective leather that lowers the upholstery temperature which is standard on the 228i and 235i. Buyers can option the leather as part of a package for the 220i for $1000.

The ConnectedDrive feature that introduces tiers of connectivity into the car includes upgraded satellite navigation and it drives the reversing camera.

Oddly, this camera is standard on the convertible yet optional on the coupe.

Mechanically, the automatic is an eight-speed unit and there’s a six-speed manual available on special order.

The bigger body is also 20 per cent more rigid and has a 50:50 weight distribution.

BMW claims the 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre 220i has an average fuel consumption of 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres and sprints to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds.

Standard features include leather-look upholstery, reverse camera, 17-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres and a Business-grade satellite-navigation system.

The 180kW/350Nm 228i has the same basic engine as the 220i but its additional oomph reduces fuel economy marginally to 6.6L/100km and conversely slices the sprint time back to 6.0 seconds.

The 228i adds leather upholstery, 18-inch alloys, heated front seats, bi-Xenon headlights and variable sport steering.

Then the M235i – successor to the M135i and here in April – is powered by a turbocharged six-cylinder engine with 240kW/450Nm for a fuel average of 7.9L/100km and a 0-100km/h time of 5.0 seconds, only 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe.

On top of its siblings, the M235i adds adaptive M suspension with M brakes and performance features, a premium audio system, a professional-grade sat-nav and front and rear parking sensors.

At $85,800 it is $3500 more expensive than the equivalent coupe.

The 2 Series convertibles are available with BMW’s pre-paid service program that, for an upfront $1140, covers basic servicing for five years or 80,000km.

BMW 2 Series Convertible pricing*
220i (a)$54,900
228i (a)$68,900
M 235i (a)$85,800
*Excludes on-road costs.

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