Top Down, Sun Out with the 2021 BMW 430i Convertible

BMW has been generous with its vehicle loans and I actually wrote extensively about the 2021 BMW 430i just a month or two ago. You can check out my review and road test commentary here: A Week With the 2021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe. In summary, I observed that it was sleek, comfortable, fun to drive, but marred by the “beaver teeth” front grill and some acceleration problems from a full stop. The acceleration problem is probably related to the altitude here in the Mile High city of Boulder, Colorado. Overall, I liked it. When BMW came back a few weeks later and offered the loan of the very same car, but the convertible edition, I gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. And there’s no question, lowering that top at least doubles the sex appeal of this vehicle, as you can see:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - top down exterior

Since I’ve already written about the 430i, this time I thought I would focus on the convertible system itself. I remember the old days with the ‘rag top’ that was literally like a piece of black nautical canvas that you stretched over a few spacing bars and clipped onto the top of the front windshield. The old wisdom was “don’t leave anything in a convertible because they’re so easy to cut and steal”. I can recall people with these first gen soft tops complaining about how they’d find the top slashed by some delinquent, at the cost of a cheesy fix or expensive replacement.

These tops also required a fair amount of work raising and lower them, making a convertible something you had to work for. I’ve never personally owned a rag-top convertible, but I did have a much-beloved targa top Toyota Supra (1992, the last year of the “muscle car” design). I loved the car, but it was quite a job unclipping, lifting out, and then stowing the top into the trunk, which was then completely full.

Convertibles have come a long way since then, however, and not only is the top thick and insulated, but it goes up and down at the push of a button. Glorious. Here’s a sense of the convertible top itself:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - top partially open

The most important thing is that the thicker roof offers acoustic insulation, which means that you can actually have a conversation while driving at highway speeds with the top up. On a rag-top convertible, it would be way too noisy for anything other than shouting.

Of course, all this convertible top has to have somewhere to go, and that’s a sort of mid-vehicle storage compartment, as you can see:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - top storage area compartment

Want to see it in action? I’ve got that too, thanks to some assistance from my daughter. First, opening up the BMW 430i and lowering the top:

And, since you can’t really have one without the other, closing the top up once you want to park or are poised to experience inclement weather:

It’s really a marvelous bit of engineering, more reminiscent of the Transformers than anything else. It works seamlessly and all with the pull of a tiny control on the center console:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - center console

Can you see the control? Lowermost row, one from the right. You do need to be parked to control the convertible top, so they’ve added necessary safety interlocks to ensure that you don’t accidentally open the top on the highway and have a spectacularly bad consequence.

The wrinkle, of course, is that by adding the extra storage space for the convertible top, the designers stole both from the back seat legroom and the trunk. First, legroom:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - no rear legroom

it’s a bit tricky to see, but trust me when I say that if the driver and front passengers have their seats back, the rear seat passengers have no leg room at all. I see these sort of back seats as “insurance additions” so that the vehicle can be insured as a four-seater rather than a two-seater, but effectively? It’s a two-seater.

And then there’s the trunk space. The 2021 BMW 430i xDrive Coupe had a pretty decent rear storage area, but the convertible? About half of that space is commandeered for the convertible top stowage:

2021 bmw 430i convertible - minimal trunk space

Then again, people who buy a convertible like the 430i aren’t looking for a vehicle so they can moonlight as an Uber driver, so for most owners, none of this matters when compared to the unparalleled coolness of having that convertible top down. That’s where I’m going to end this writeup too, with the observation that people get convertibles to have the top down and cruise. Malibu Beach, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica, even Coronado Island, it’s pretty darn glorious.

In fact, more than once I seriously considered whether I should just make an offer on this vehicle and have it as a fun “second car” for when the weather is top-down favorable. If you’re in the market for a convertible, this is definitely one to test drive and check out. You’ll be unable to stop yourself grinning when you’re in the driver’s seat, top-down, cruising down the road.

CONFIGURATION: 2021 BMW 430i Convertible in Portimao Blue Metallic. Powered by 2.0L BMW TwinPower Turbo and 8-speed sport automatic transmission. MSRP: $53,100.00. OPTIONS INCLUDED: Black leather with blue stitching, M-Sport Package, Dynamic Handling Package, Parking Assistance Package, Premium Package. AS DRIVEN: $67,220.00

Disclosure: BMW loaned me the 2021 BMW 430i Convertible for a week of driving in return for this writeup. Thanks, BMW!

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