Before we get to the car, let’s get to the car’s nose. There’s been a lot of controversy over BMW’s move to a much larger, more pronounced twin-kidney grille on this year’s 3- and 4-Series models.
You know what? It’s fine. It looks better in person than it does in photos; it’s nothing compared to what rides on the front of – well, pick any Lexus – and, to tell the truth, last year’s BMW grilles were starting to look a little delicate. This is more in keeping with a performance vehicle. I think in two years we’ll stumble over the “first look” pieces from 2020 and wonder what the fuss was about.
I’m a big fan of convertibles. Imprinted in my earliest memories are rides in my Uncle Ron’s cars. He had, in sequence, a 1955 Thunderbird (which I was too young to remember but have been told I rode in), a 1960 Thunderbird, a 1963 Thunderbird Sports Roadster and, just before he died, a 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 (because Ford stopped making Thunderbird convertibles after the 1966 model).
For an Irish-American with skin that burns so easily my dermatologist has ordered me to wear sunscreen with an SPF matching my Northern California ZIP code, I have an irrational love of ragtops – even if most of the time I’m only putting the top down at night.
The 2021 BMW 430i Convertible is the “entry-level” 4-Series convertible. That’s because there’s an M440i that packs 382 horsepower from a turbocharged inline six. But there is zero shame or penalty in the 2.0-liter turbo four in the 430i. Its 255 horsepower is more than enough to get the job done, and its eight-speed sport automatic transmission not only can handle the spectrum from gentle cruising to backroad barnstorming, it also delivers solid fuel economy of 24 mpg city/33 mpg highway (Environmental Protection Agency estimate; your mileage may vary).
Of all the German machines on the market today, BMW is the one whose seats and upholstery say “German car” the loudest to me. Yeah, they’ve gone a bit far with the buttons in the cockpit, but that interior – especially in red – is a thing of beauty. It’s also an extra-cost option. More on that in a moment.
The base price of the 2021 BMW 430i Convertible is $53,100. Among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 19-inch wheels, adaptive M suspension, LED fog lights and dual-zone automatic climate control.
This is the part where my regular readers and folks who’ve shopped premium European imports know the base price changes dramatically. Extra-cost options are an art form among the German marques, and BMW is second only to Porsche in leaving things off the standard equipment list and charging premium prices for them as options. In the case of our 430i Convertible, there’s $13,125 worth of extra-cost additions: dynamic handling package, red leather interior, premium package with heated front seats, heated steering wheel and a lot more.
I would probably shell out for every one of these if I were buying a 430i, and I’ll give points to BMW for backing off its ill-advised idea of a couple of years ago to charge extra for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Listing air-conditioning refrigerant as “included” is just asking to be made fun of, though.
So, with $995 destination charge, the as-tested price is $67,220.
Regardless of how I feel about the option pricing, the sum total makes sense. This car justifies a near-$70,000 price tag minute by minute as you drive it. Convertibles exist to bring a bit of magic back into driving. And this BMW does that.
If he were alive today, Uncle Ron would own one.
Mike Hagerty, vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists, has been writing about cars since 1997. Read more of his reviews at MikeHagertyCars.com and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/mikehagertywritesaboutcars).