A Well Balanced Act: Driving the BMW G23 430i Convertible

Now into its second generation following BMW’s change in model name nomenclature, the latest BMW 4 Series Convertible is a class-leading piece of machinery that showcases much more than its return to a soft fabric roof might suggest.

Having been blessed with the keys to BMW’s latest 430i Convertible, there’s plenty of aspects of the car I could talk about.

Like the styling…

Finished in BMW’s beautiful San Remo Green over tan ensemble, the 430i Convertible is as striking as it is beautiful and works well with our car’s M Sport Pro shadow line trim enveloping the bold front grille in black. While it might have grown in size slightly over its predecessor with an extra 130mm in length, 27mm in width, a minute 1mm in height and an additional 41mm in wheelbase, the latest car’s sharp crease lines and taut body surfacing still manage to project a dynamic yet elegantly proportioned vehicle with little giving away its increase in size. With the roof in place, the 430i Convertible’s ability to cut a lovely silhouette is something hard-top convertibles can only dream of.

Going from deep dark to bright metallic highlights depending on the angle of light, BMW’s San Remo Green is a beautifully brilliant shade and I reckon you’d be doing yourself a huge disfavour should you opt for any other colour.

And as a final visual flourish, the 430i Convertible has been bestowed upon with a set of (AC Schnitzer-Esque) 19-inch style 793 Double-spoke l Bicolour wheels shrouding a set of big red M Sport callipers coming on as standard.

…I could also talk about the 430i Convertible’s fantastic new roof

While it might look as if BMW is moving backwards from their innovative folding metal-roofed convertibles, that cannot be further from the truth as this new fabric folding roof is nothing short of an engineering marvel in both form and function.

“The stiffness of a hardtop combined with the lightweight nature of a soft-top.” Not my own words, but those of Christopher Wehner, the then Vice President of Product Management in charge of cars like the new 4 Series Convertible.

Indeed, with the fabric roof up, you’d be hard-pressed to notice the usual noise intrusions associated with soft-top roofs as refinement levels are amazingly almost on par with those of the Coupe. Inside, the roof lining is also quite unlike what we’ve grown accustomed to with a hard shell inner board in place of the usual soft fabric lining, further contributing to the 430i Convertible’s refinement levels. What is similar to other soft tops though is the reduction in weight (40% over the previous generation’s metal folding roof), increase in headroom, the ability to free up much more luggage room in the boot with an increase of 80 litres and a speedier deployment of 18 seconds to drop or raise the said roof.

…Then, there’s the tech…

The technological advancements aren’t limited to that fancy new roof either as the 430i Convertible comes well specced out with a list of toys for those inside, most obvious of which is the 10.25″ infotainment display with its sizeable suite of BMW Connected functions. Concierge Services, Intelligent emergency call, Real-Time Traffic Information, Remote Services, TeleServices, Intelligent Personal Assistant, Remote Software Upgrade, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all present with surround sound audio output taken care of by Misters Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon.

The digital readouts don’t stop with the centre console as drivers are also treated to a very clear and bright heads up display and a 12.3″ Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument display with readouts for Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning and front collision warning with brake intervention, crossing traffic warning rear, rear collision prevention and Speed Limit Information.

That said, the UI does seem a little cluttered visually and might take a bit of getting used to. Unfortunately, you also miss out on BMW’s funky gesture control, 360 surround camera and assisted cruise control, which is a shame.

What isn’t a shame though is that button along the edge of the shifter labelled “Adaptive”. Calling into play an “Adaptive” setup using BMW’s adaptive M suspension system to constantly alter the parameters of the steering, damping, accelerator and gearshift responses based on driver input and even navigation data. It might sound confusing and complicated but it works rather well. A mode to toggle through driving modes should really be on the steering wheel though.

…And the lovely interior…

Whilst the 430i Convertible’s interior is a lovely place to be in, what’s really striking is its Cognac tan ‘Vernasca’ leather set against the car’s San Remo green exterior, a beautiful classy green over tan combination that not only looks but feels great, As always, BMW’s top-notch build quality shines through with the rest of the interior finished in high-quality tactile materials all around that once again raises the quality bar up a notch compared with the what’s come before.

Space-wise, those upfront will have little to complain about with plenty of space all around. Room in the back while cosy, is surprisingly fair even for 2 adults and with the extra-long doors on either side, getting in and out is a relatively simple affair,

…The one thing that stands out the most though?

Yes, I could talk about all those aspects of the 430i Convertible but the one word that kept popping up in my head during my weekend driving the car? Balance. The 430i Convertible is just such a balanced car through and through. Granted it does command quite a premium (what doesn’t in today’s automotive market?), but that aside, the 430i is a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive with both the top up and down.

Constantly riding the fine line between the comfort of a Grand Cruiser and the agility of a Drop-top sports car while occasionally dipping its toes onto either side and with a smooth masterstroke of a 4-cylinder pushing out 400Nm of torque and 258 fruity sounding horses, the 430i Convertible delivers a well-judged mix of both poise and joy when called upon.

In my opinion, the best BMWs outside of M-Division have always been about getting the right blend, and with this 430i Convertible, they’ve delivered a finely crafted balance.

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