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2014 BMW 428i Review

2014 BMW 428i Cabriolet xDrive at a glance

BODY STYLE: compact four-seat convertible
DRIVE METHOD: front-engine, all-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder with twin-scroll turbo (241 hp, 258 lb/ft of torque)
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 9.3/6.0/7.8L/100km (city/hwy/comb)
CARGO: 370 litres with top up, 230 litres with top down
PRICE: base with xDrive $59,900 (see website for packages and other configurations)

Early fall cruising in a?2014 BMW 428i

Raking the leaves beneath our nearly barren honey locust, it is with sadness I accept that top-down driving season is drawing to a close.

There will be the odd outbreak of warmth in October, but six months of crappy weather lie ahead, which will relegate most convertibles to the garage.

That is unless you?re driving a 2014 BMW 428i Cabriolet with xDrive.

For those unfamiliar with BMW nomenclature, take note the convertible (or cabriolet) was once part of the 3 Series lineup that also included sedan, wagon and coupe.

Now both the coupe and cab have been ?promoted? to the 4 Series, reflecting the added cachet of dropping two doors ? and a roof.

Which in the 428i, and its more potent 435i sibling, is a retractable hardtop.

Some competitors have opted for the lighter, space-saving fabric roof, which is more durable and better insulated than in years past. But I still prefer metal.

It?s more costly and complex, eating up a pile of trunk space, but that aside, it turns a warm-weather vehicle into a four-season ride. And in the 4 Series Cab, the three-piece roof is fully lined, with the benefit of advanced soundproofing and integrated lighting.

2014 BMW 428i

I also appreciate the hardtop?s cleaner look. With roof in place, the 428i Cabriolet looks as sweet as its coupe sibling, and with the top stowed, even more so.

I?ve driven many a BMW, but few have attracted as many positive comments from passersby. I was getting used to the attention at work, mall parking lots, gas stations and even my driveway.

Such civility also extended to the roadways, where motorists often waved me over to merge or change lanes instead of speeding up the moment I signalled my intentions – or flipping me the bird.

I haven?t always felt such warmth while wearing the BMW roundel.

Convertibles, evidently, create a smile factor on both sides of the car.

And mine didn?t leave throughout the entire week of testing, as nearly continuous blue skies and warm temps kept the top down most days. Two golf tournaments were a bonus.

Golf bags can present a challenge for convertibles, with many lacking the trunk space. Top up, the 428i Cab?s 370-litre capacity is enough to handle two bags, but with the roof stowed, cargo room dropped to a piddly 230 litres. So I schlepped the clubs in the back row.

In the 2014 BMW 428i, the rear seats are more than an afterthought. They may not be ideal for tall occupants, but two medium-sized adults will fit nicely. And with the top down, headroom is never an issue.

Up front, the well-bolstered sport buckets in my tester came in eye-catching red leather, with the ?Air Collar? vents that, like Mercedes Airscarf, create a warm breeze at neck level. With these on, along with front ventilation and seat heaters, you?ll be driving al fresco weeks after even the diehards have packed it in.

The interior, either way, is a pleasant place to be. The red upholstery, with co-ordinated stitching in the steering wheel, not to mention black soft touch materials and aluminum finishes, created a handsome combination that really popped against the white exterior.

With the roof up, the passenger cabin is much like the coupe. The hardtop is not only air and water tight, but slips through the wind with a minimum of turbulence. Its sound-absorbing headliner also quells outside noise.

As you?d expect in this segment, BMW offers numerous driver aids, like its camera-based lane departure and collision warning systems. The heads-up display is also something I?m fond of, as it projects vehicle speed, speed limit and turn-by-turn navigation within your line of sight.

Another useful tool is Surround View. Backing into tight spots is easy with the top down, but a chore with most convertibles due to their small back window. I?ll admit the 428i Cab?s rear glass isn?t bad, but with the 360-degree around-view monitor ? along with park distance control ? parking was a snap.

iDrive was also a pleasant surprise. When these infotainment systems first launched (I?m not just referring to BMW), they required an engineering degree ? or plenty of time off ? to read the lengthy manual. Some rivalled Tolstoy.

I was able to figure out iDrive without turning a page. With its direct menu control buttons and large rotary knob that functions like a mouse, it was easy to navigate the eight bookmarks that contain everything from audio to navigation to vehicle settings.

All that being said, BMWs are known for their driving dynamics, and although the 428i isn?t aimed at the hardcore enthusiast, it?s no slouch either.

Under its long bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with twin-scroll turbo, producing 241 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque. It is offered with both a six-speed manual gearbox and eight-speed automatic.

My tester had the automatic, which could have been a disappointment if not for Sport mode. Unlike Eco mode, which shifts early and doesn?t make full use of the 2.0-litre?s torque curve, Sport delivers a more satisfying experience. Throttle response is brisk when you plant the pedal, with each gear approaching the rev limit before a quick and decisive shift.

And in back, the twin pipes belt out a throaty exhaust note, sounding more six-cylinder than four.

Acceleration from zero to 100 km/h is rated at a crisp 6.5 seconds, for both the rear-drive and AWD (xDrive) models.

The 435i Cabriolet, with its 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six (300 hp, 300 lb/ft of torque), will take you to 100 clicks in a mere 5.5 seconds. But when you consider the approximate $9K premium, the 428i should do nicely for most buyers.

As it did for me, during this early fall test. There are less expensive and more practical vehicles in the 3 Series/4 Series lineups, but for fun in the sun along with four-season driveability, the 428i Cabriolet is hard to top.

2014 BMW 428i

  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
  • 2014 BMW 428i Review
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