2015 BMW M235i: Well-Insulated and Impressive Soft Top
by James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor on September 17, 2015
While Josh Sadlier and Company were driving the Yugo to Monterey Car Week in what can only be described as an exercise in automotive self-flagellation, I accompanied them in my 1998 BMW Z3 2.8 roadster. Needless to say, my experience was exponentially more pleasant.
However, my old Z3 has only a single-layer soft top, producing intrusive wind noise at 65 mph or higher. Strong winds that weekend made it even worse. After an hour of roar and the odd high-pitched whistle, "tiresome" would be an insufficient adjective.
I share this story to illustrate just how far soft-top convertibles have come, and specifically, BMW's. The one in our 2015 BMW M235i is truly impressive.
Its multiple layers almost eliminate wind noise at speeds that, in my Z3 and other older convertibles, would have me reaching for the Advil. It's so quiet it's actually easy to forget you're even driving a car with a removable roof.
Such excellent soft tops make retractable hard tops like the one on the 4 Series all the more unnecessary. There's certainly something to be said for the look when the roof is raised (although I do dig our M235i's metallic grey cloth), but the added weight, complexity and potential higher repair costs outweigh that in my opinion.
There's also the pro/con of trunk space — a retractable hard top offers a lot with the roof raised, but very little when lowered — and the fact that styling is frequently fouled by a roof-swallowing, Nicki Minaj-esque rear end.
So here's to 18 years of progress and the BMW M235i Convertible.
James Riswick, New and Used Car Editor @ 8,003 miles