BMW 220d Convertible Review
On a (very rare) sunny day in February we took the soon to be released BMW 220d Convertible for a little test drive. A route that would take us through the south of England, from the town of BMW’s new head office in Farnborough down to the coast around Bournemouth. Read how we got on with our BMW 220d Convertible Review.
First of all, when reviewing a car like this it’s easy to get distracted with stats, engine sizes and performance figures, things that all strike to the top of our list when talking cars. What’s the top speed? How many cylinders? Has it got launch control? And so on. There is a reason most cabriolets have a coupé counterpart, they can worry about the performance stats and how well they get on the track, but with a cabriolet it’s not about that. It’s the lifestyle, it’s the style, it’s all about the sun on your face. So what we looked at when reviewing the 220d was how well it suits its purpose, from a lifestyle point of view.
I know what you’re thinking, BMW convertible? Diesel? What’s the bloody point? If you’re going to go convertible, go full on and get a noisy petrol engine that roars and burns lovely holes in your pocket. Well, fuel economy is far too big of a deal in the modern automotive world for it not to be an option, even for petrol heads. But don’t fear because even though it’s diesel, the 220d packs about 400Nm of torque (stat, check) meaning that it’s not going to be the green clothed eco-warrior you might think, and to be honest, it’s still a lot of fun to drive. If you’re not convinced, then there is a M235i petrol version available that packs an even bigger punch with it’s 6 cylinder, 3.0L engine that’s 326bhp and does 0-60 in 5 seconds (more stats, check).
BMW 220d Convertible
Introducing the BMW 220d convertible. Rear wheel drive, 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds, 190bhp and with a combined economy of 60mpg, although you’d have to drive like a ruddy angel to get anywhere near that, more likely that you’ll get something around the 48-50mpg mark. Even so, that’s not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good. The 2 series is a direct replacement to the 1 series convertible, naturally, and the changes aren’t too massive. It’s grown by 72mm, most of which is straight into the wheelbase. The 2 series is slightly wider by 26mm and the wheel track has been increased, meaning a lower centre of gravity and an improved difference in grip and stability, and that is noticeable for sure. A key difference on the road at high speeds with the roof down.
There’s slightly more room in the boot which I will cover a little later on, but aside from a few new features it’s pretty similar to the 1 series.
BMW 220d Convertible Looks
Aesthetically, you can be told everything there is to know about new design features in any new BMW, but anyone that has talked to me about cars will know how I feel about the lack of any massive design changes to BMW coupés and cabriolets. Whilst there has been a major refresh in recent years, In my opinion they’ve followed the same fundamental design principles for about 20 years, very rarely straying away from that same basic BMW style. Perhaps it’s a case of ‘If it aint broke don’t fix it’. Either way the 220d looks to break that trend slightly more than previous next generation releases, although they still have a little way to go to catch this guys eye with something fresh.
Starting with the lights, LED, the 220d has unique L-shape rear lights, which is a nice touch as being one of the only car brands on the road to have them, meaning you know when you are following a BMW. When looking at shape and design, it seems like they have taken inspiration from the front panels of the i8 with the low bodywork and general lower to the ground look. The same goes with the front LED lights and overall curves to the bodywork, definitely a more sleek style and definitely more attractive. On the rear of the car they have widened the dual exhausts making them more prominent, again another feature that improves the overall attractiveness and sportiness.
BMW 220d Convertible On the Road
Fairly solid, like with most BMW’s, it does feel like you are driving one piece of metal. But then you hit higher speeds and a lot of the standard convertible traits come to light. Although more stable than it’s predecessor, naturally by not having a solid roof you pick up a few more bumps and shakes here and there, and you will feel a difference in the handling when the roof is down, as expected. However, like I mentioned earlier, you generally don’t buy a convertible for track style performance, well not usually anyway. If you want this car for performance then the coupé counterpart will always be better. But more than likely if you are getting this car you want it because you want the roof down, you want a luxurious drive, to have the wind in your hair, not to get a decent time around the ring.
Not a lot to fault on other aspects of the drive, BMW’s are efficient driving machines and so is this. Having said that, an all to common annoyance in BMW’s is the rigid gear box that leaves little room for give when shifting, but it’ll catch you out a few times to start with and that’ll be it. But overall a very responsive, smooth drive. Handling is pretty impressive considering it’s a convertible, and it’s the increased wheel coverage that helps with that, so well done BMW.
The different driving modes in the form of Economy, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ are a welcome addition as with all of the current crop. Helping towards the improved fuel economy and smooth drive in Economy and Comfort driving modes and keeping your bum pushed into the seat and hands tight around the wheel in Sport and Sport+. The best part about these different driving modes is that the difference is instantly noticeable, something that isn’t always present in other brands with similar options.
BMW 220d Convertible Cabin
As with the new bread of BMW, a huge improvement over models past. It’s spacious, easily functional and very BMW. The seating position is very comfortable so no complaints there whatsoever, certainly makes those 2/3 hour drives a lot easier than they could be. For the convertible lovers out there, this is a big one. 19 seconds. That is how long it’ll take you to get the roof up and down, and this is an option at speeds of up to 30mph. So no more traffic light embarrassment. It’s not exactly revolutionary but it is a good feature to have. Sticking with the roof, the 220d boasts improved thermal insulation that is meant to hold in heat more efficiently when the roof is down, and when the roof is up, the added climate control in the rear seats makes the life of the passenger a little more enjoyable.
The 1 series was heavily criticised for noise bleed in the rear windows, BMW claim that this has now been improved and I can vouch for that. It is a definite improvement and they battled criticism well. However, now it seems a little too quiet, even with motorway driving you do find yourself questioning whether the engine is even on. Very quiet. Very much an each to their own factor, but I’d like to hear a little more from the engine in the cabin.
The 2 series has 280L of boot space, which can be increased to 335L with the roof folded and on models with the freeload function. That means no more closed off boot, no more struggling to fit in golf clubs. Now you can take the 2 series to pick up that bed, wardrobe, cabinet or even table from Ikea, happy days!
BMW 220d Convertible Review Verdict
Sure it has a few annoyances, but there is something about the feeling of class and superiority you get driving a BMW convertible alongside the fact that it is one of the most attractive convertibles on the road. Ultimately, you can go down into all of the details about which convertible is better on paper, and you’ll probably be left with something that isn’t the 2 series.
But if you are buying a convertible it’s got to be about more than that, it’s got to be about how you feel driving it, and the enjoyment I got out of driving the BMW 220d surpassed the feeling of any similar convertibles. Plus the added fuel economy makes it a really hard car to turn down.
The BMW 2 series models are available from the 28th of February in the UK, with delivery and test drives starting on the 1st of March. Prices range from £29,000 to £38,000 depending on the model.