BMW 2 Series in convertible format is a pure BMW in the eyes of those who love the upmarket German marque. That’s because it has rear-wheel drive and is offered with a straight-six engine (though the test car reviewed here was a four-cylinder).

Though it shares its ‘2 Series’ numbering system with some new BMW models that have a transverse engine and front-wheel-drive we can assure keen drivers the 220i convertible and its coupe brothers have a differential just where you want it – between the rear wheels.

The new BMW 2 Series convertible replaced the open-top BMW 1 Series early this year. As is often the way it’s grown in size over its predecessor, being 72 mm longer at 4432 mm and 27 mm wider at 1774 mm. The wheelbase has been stretched by 30 mm to 2690 mm to make sure the overhangs haven’t grown overmuch.

This increase in size comes as no surprise when you learn that this 2 Series is based on a platform that shares some components with the BMW 3 Series.

The small BMW has a wide, even more purposeful, stance than the old 1 Series.

Call us old fashioned but we really do prefer our convertibles to have soft tops, not metal folding roofs. That’s because even with the top closed, which, sadly, tends to be most of the time, your car still looks like a ‘proper’ convertible – not like a closed coupe.


We like the way the roof folds into the body with what BMW call a ‘boat-deck’ look.

Inside, the company’s newest convertible has the important large dials under a shroud directly in front of the driver and a sweeping dash done in quality materials that live up the company’s image.

The infotainment screen sits in the centre of the dash and is deeper than in some other recent models, we find it more useable because of that. Interestingly, it leapfrogs its more expensive brothers in being the first to use the new-generation Professional navigation system. This has free-of-charge over-the-air updating of navigation data via a built-in SIM card.

The optional BMW ConnectedDrive Services package in our review car provided telephone and internet-based services, other innovative functions can be integrated into the car’s operating system via apps.

BMW 220i and 228i have different variants of a four-cylinder 2.0-litre TwinPower turbo-petrol engine. This uses a twin-scroll turbo, not two turbochargers as the name may suggest. Our 220i test car had a power output of 135 kW and produced 270 Nm from 1250 to 4500 rpm – a nice spread that will have most owners at the torque peak most of the time.


The M325i uses a TwinPower six-cylinder unit displacing 3.0 litres and producing 240 kW and 450 Nm.

An eight-speed auto is used on Australian imports, but a six-speed manual may be ordered if you really want one.

The 220i we reviewed was fitted with the BMW Driving Assistant option. This includes Lane Departure Warning and Collision Warning. Lane Departure Warning cuts in at speeds over 70 km/h and alerts drivers by way of a visual signal in the instrument cluster, as well as a vibration of the steering wheel.

At speeds upwards of 15 km/h Collision Warning detects if the vehicle is getting too close to traffic in front. Again it provides visual and audible warnings. The system primes the brakes in order to minimise the braking distance the moment the driver hits the pedal.

BMW 220i’s road holding is superb. It points beautifully into corners at speed and is happy to change direction mid corner even if being punted hard. This is the area in which the balance provided by a set-back front engine and rear-wheel drive really makes itself felt.

Even over rough and uneven bitumen roads the car remained stable with only the gentlest of hints of body flex when we encountered harsh surfaces.

Engine performance from the 220i unit is likely to be good enough for most owners and the response from the twin-scroll turbo, though not as good as a naturally aspirated BMW engine, is certainly acceptable.

The 220i is economical as well, with us using five to six litres per hundred kilometres on easy paced open road driving, and an impressively low seven to nine litres around town.

The pair of front seats support well and provide good sideway support without being overly aggressive.

Even with the longer wheelbase the new convertible is still a squeeze for rear seat passengers. The back seats are firm and fairly upright. It isn’t too bad for entry and exit thanks to the wide door and front seats that slide forward.

We see the 2 Series convertible as being a two-plus-two, not a four-seater.

Boot is a useful 335 litres with the roof up, 280 with it closed. Which is pretty good for this class. The ski-hatch is 450 mm wide and lets you carry longer items inside the car.

Driving with the roof closed you really cannot tell this is a convertible from the decibels that infiltrate the cabin.

You can lift or drop the roof in 20 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h at the press of button.

The leather seats fitted to the 2 Series convertible have been treated with sun reflective upholstery to reduce discolouration.

After driving a BMW 220i convertible for an enjoyable week we are confident it will attract many buyers of open-top cars. Though not a hot machine in the true sense it provides enough performance for most and does so at a pretty reasonable price.


220i 2.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible: $54,900 (automatic)
228i 2.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible: $68,900 (automatic)
M235i 3.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible: $85,800 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.

ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: Standard in all models
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering wheel mounted controls: Standard in all models

SPECIFICATIONS (BMW 220i 2.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door convertible)

Engine Capacity: 1.997 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 84.0 mm x 90.1 mm
Maximum Power: 135 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 270 Nm @ 1250 rpm

Driven Wheels: Rear
Manual Transmission: Six-speed (special order)
Automatic Transmission: Eight-speed
Final Drive Ratio: 3.077:1

Length: 4432 mm
Wheelbase: 2690 mm
Width: 1774 mm
Height: 1408 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1478 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 52 litres
Towing Ability: 750 kg (1200 kg with braked trailer)
Boot Capacity: 335 litres (280 litres with roof folded)

Front Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs
Front Brakes: Ventilated disc
Rear Brakes: Ventilated disc

Type: Petrol 95RON
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.4 L/100km

Greenhouse Rating: 7.5/10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5/10

Three years/unlimited km

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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