The BMW 435i Convertible is just about the sweetest companion you could imagine: all the power and poise of the best BMW's ever made: plus a bit of extra wind in your hair. What is not to like?
The 435i and cheaper 428i compete most directly with the Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabrio's these days, so BMW does not really have the segment of four-seat convertibles all to itself these days.
But it does command the most market share -- largely thanks to the legacy this car has since defining the 90210-chic as far back as the 1989 325i ragtops.
Things have only improved for the 435i this year, with a new look and a better-integrated hard-top that does not steal so much luggage space when it is folded down. When up, only the extra roof shutlines give the game away to most observers that this is really a convertible at all.
This is a good thing for year-round use - as are the fold-down rear seatbacks with passthrough and actually decent space in the back seat in general. In fact, passengers back there are likely to be just as comfortable as they might be in the back of the Bentley Continental GTC - the only other larger four-seat convertible that springs to mind.
The BMW 635i and 650i are available in a soft-top version, of course, as is the mighty M6. But nothing says summertime in luxury areas like the BMW 435i. Luckily, it still does all the best BMW tricks on a racetrack as well.
BMW's long, low and wide new 4-series is hitting its stride.
Of course, the 4 drop-top replaces the previous 3-series convertible line as BMW links its sportiest models with even number badges.
Overall convertible sales have fallen off a cliff in the American market in the last few years.
Even so, it is not immediately clear if this is a structural change in buyer preferences, a short-term economic side-effect, or if there simply were not the same volume of cheap and dreadful Chrysler Sebrings to prop up the sales numbers.
Even "the hot girls" like Jillayne from my high school would not be caught dead in a new Sebring, even though it was cool enough for the late 1990s. Even with choices between Thrifty-specification vinyl tops up to a folding steel roof, the LeBaron legacy is finished.
The cars on sale in 2012 had the same nasty scuttle shake and transmission ticks that defined Chrysler corp products from the K-car through the Daimler take-over.
But the BMW 428i is a million miles from the dreadful bargain convertible hell. With solid rigidity and space in back for real adult humans - the BMW cabrio is a dream car for many.
Pricing is up dramatically with the latest technology included as standard, but even with mid-$50,000 pricing, there is real joy and value from piloting this so-chic sports car.
2014 BMW 428i and 435i Convertible - Exterior
Interior accommodation also takes a big step forward, however, with ultra-strong new seats with integrated seat-belts, a coupe-like feel with the top up, and a practical trunk that even tends with a folding back seat base.
All these features are relatively impressive and important for cabrio shoppers, who otherwise have to sacrifice practicality in the name of style.
2014 BMW 428i and 435i Convertible - Interior