The 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible is the drop-top version of the 2 Series coupe, BMW's entry-level model in the U.S. The 2 Series convertible offers the fun, precise steering and handling we expect from BMW, along with a choice of two eager-yet-efficient turbocharged engines. It's small, light and nimble, and believe it or not actually offers good value when you take into account the sporty driving experience, high build quality and BMW's free maintenance plan.
What Is It?
The 2 Series convertible takes over for the car previously known as the 1 Series, but there's more going on here than just a number upgrade. The car has been extensively redesigned with a more visually pleasing, less compact body, along with a reworked interior. This four-seat convertible comes standard with rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available in the form of the 228i xDrive model.
For the change from 1 Series to 2 Series the wheelbase was extended by 1.2 inches, the overall length increased by 2.8 inches (to 174.7 inches) and width increased by an inch. Those dimensions make it quite similar in size to the 2015 Audi A3 Convertible, but it's more than 8 inches shorter than the Infiniti Q60 convertible.
Two turbocharged engines are available in the 2 Series convertible. The 228i model comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The M235i features a 3.0-liter inline-6 with 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. The 228i and 228i xDrive (all-wheel-drive) models come only with an eight-speed automatic transmission with standard paddle shifters, while the M235i comes with either the eight-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, at no extra cost.
The 2015 BMW 228i Convertible starts at $38,850, with the 228i xDrive at $40,650 and the M235i beginning at $48,650. Our test car, a 228i Sport Line with numerous option packages, including the $3,400 Premium package (power front seats, Dakota leather, satellite radio, ambience lighting, Comfort Access keyless entry) and the $2,200 Track Handling package (18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes, variable sport steering) was $53,825 as tested.
How Does It Drive?
It drives like a small, lightweight BMW, if there's anyone out there who can still remember what that's like. We were only able to test out the base 228i model, but that was just fine with us. The 2 Series is the perfect size for BMW's turbocharged four-cylinder. There's plenty of punch to thrust this 3,625-pound car forward with verve; the bundles of midrange torque getting us around semis on two-lane roads with ease.
It's so quick and feels so spritely, it makes the case for the considerably more expensive M235i a difficult one. Sure, the extra power from the turbo inline-6 would be nice, but we definitely can't complain about how well the revvy four-cylinder and quick-but-smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission work in concert.
BMW says the 228i convertible will hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds. Since we managed 5.1 seconds to 60 mph in a 2014 BMW 228i Coupe, that's probably a conservative figure. Of note, BMW claims the 228i xDrive is a tenth quicker, while the M235i convertible will do zero to 60 mph in a scintillating 4.8 seconds.
Thanks to a well-balanced chassis, the 228i feels great on the road. Even better if that road has twisty bits, since a small rear-wheel-drive car is a sure recipe for enthusiastic driving. The electric-assist steering feels spot-on, with levels of effort just on the heavy side. Grip is plentiful, and the car tracks through corners with ease.
Our test car's optional adaptive M suspension lets you adjust the dampers between softer and stiffer settings. Sport and Sport Plus are definitely stiffer (though never harsh) and can get jittery over bumps, but you'll appreciate the precision they give when you take turns at speed. The Comfort setting is supple, more than soft enough to soak up any and all bumps we came across, and eliminates the Sport setting's occasional bumpiness.
The Track Handling package's larger, upgraded M Sport brakes felt powerful without being touchy around town. The pedal has a firm, positive feel.
The power soft top opens or closes in 20 seconds, which isn't exactly quick. The process is rather elaborate, and the pieces move slowly. On the bright side, it can be opened or closed at speeds up to 30 mph. Wind is managed well with the top and windows down and the standard wind deflector (situated in the rear seat area) in place. With the top down, windows up and deflector in place, wind rustling is kept so low that you can carry on a normal conversation without having to raise your voice.
What's the Interior Like?
We weren't able to sample the 228i convertible's standard seats, but we can tell you the optional leather sport seats are incredible, with enveloping cushions along with generous lateral support to hold you in place through corners.
The steering wheel seems almost too large in diameter for the size of the car, but it's the usual BMW thick-rimmed affair that feels good in your hands. The rear seat has surprising knee room and foot space for a subcompact, and the seat bottoms are plenty comfy. But the car's narrowness in the rear means the outer seatbacks dig into your back a bit. Up front, though, there's enough room that driver and passenger aren't constantly bumping elbows.
The interior controls work with the heft and fluidity of action in knobs, buttons and stalks that we expect from BMW these days. Nothing is striking inside the cabin, styling-wise, with a wide, flat center stack and rather normal-looking gauges. The iDrive infotainment system makes sense with just a bit of familiarity, and the central screen for the navigation system has impressively sharp graphics.
It should be noted the 228i convertible does not come standard with a navigation system, satellite radio, a rearview camera or heated seats. They're all available through option packages at extra cost, of course, but for a luxury convertible nearing $40,000, some shoppers might expect these features to be included.
The trunk is slightly bigger, with a wider pass-through from the passenger compartment. What that means is there's enough space to slide in not just skis, but now also two snowboards or two golf bags from the trunk when you fold the rear seat down.
What Safety Features Does It Offer?
All 2015 BMW 2 Series Convertibles come standard with typical safety systems like traction control, stability control and multiple airbags for the driver and front passenger. Further, the convertible has a rollover protection system which, if the vehicle starts to overturn, activates additional head protection within a fraction of a second. Other standard features include a rain sensor with automatic headlight activation and dynamic cruise control with an automatic braking function.
Optional safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a lane departure warning system and a frontal collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
The EPA rates the 2015 BMW 228i Convertible at 27 mpg combined (23 city/34 highway) with the eight-speed automatic transmission. The previous car, the 2013 128i convertible (with a naturally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6 engine and six-speed automatic) was rated at 21 mpg combined (18/27).
The 228i xDrive convertible is rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/32 highway). The new eight-speed automatic greatly aids the M235i convertible's fuel economy versus the previous 135i's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The EPA says the new car will garner 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway) in contrast to the 135i's 20 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway).
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
As a subcompact, rear-wheel-drive entry-level luxury convertible, direct competitors for the BMW 2 Series are few. This is a performance-oriented machine, whether in 228i or M235i form, with class-leading acceleration and handling, not to mention German refinement and a solid cabin. The 228i offers strong value, too, when you take into account the level of driving experience on offer here, plus BMW's standard free maintenance plan.
2015 Audi A3 Convertible: The A3 convertible is the 228i's most obvious competitor. Both cars are German, have turbocharged engines and retractable power soft tops, and are of a similar size. But neither of the A3 convertible's turbocharged four-cylinders is as powerful as the BMW's base engine. The A3 convertible also doesn't have a rear-drive option, but it does start a few thousand dollars less than the BMW.
2015 Ford Mustang Convertible: Automotive "purists" might scoff at comparing a Ford Mustang to a BMW. But there are commonalities here. Both are four-seat soft tops, have rear-wheel drive and, if you opt for the Mustang EcoBoost, are powered by turbocharged four-cylinders. Then there's bang-for-the-buck to consider: The six-speed manual 310-hp EcoBoost Mustang convertible starts at $35,495, or you can opt for the V6 at just $29,925. Step up to the Mustang GT convertible and you'll be driving a burly 435-hp 5.0-liter V8 with a starting price of $42,425.
2015 Infiniti Q60 Convertible: With a starting price of $49,455, Infiniti's Q60 convertible is more a competitor to the M235i convertible than the 228i. Like the BMW, the Infiniti sends its power to the rear wheels. But unlike the BMW it has the benefit of a retractable hardtop and is powered by a naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 that puts out a muscular 330 hp.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
Because you love driving, sometimes just for the sake of driving. And you want a small convertible. This is a thoroughly capable back-road machine, yet it doesn't constantly remind you of that. It can be quiet and comfortable, or serious and sporty. It's always fun to drive, and the ability to drop the top on a sunny day amplifies the effect.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
It's small; there's no getting around that. While front-seat occupants aren't affected too much by its size, anyone who sits in the rear seat will be. If you need more room, you should think about stepping up to the more expensive BMW 4 Series, or a larger convertible from rivals. Also, while the starting price is reasonable, it gets expensive quickly if you add in some of the option packages.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.