For so small a car, the BMW 228i convertible has a commanding presence. It has its deficiencies – notably, a barely usable back seat and a quirk or two in the switchgear array – but it exuded confidence in every driving situation we encountered behind the wheel of this new-for-2015 model. The current chapter of BMW’s history has been marked by criticism that the cars, especially the larger sedans, don’t handle as crisply as their predecessors did. But the 228i proves BMW engineers haven’t forgotten how to build a true driver’s car.
Built in Leipzig, Germany, the 228i convertible has a soft top operated with a single switch on the center console. Our Glacier Silver Metallic test car was equipped with all the goodies that make driving a BMW such a joy, including 18-inch wheels, M Sport brakes, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering and multiple suspension settings, from economy to sport-plus. Motivating the rear-wheel-drive 228i is a 2-liter, 240-horsepower turbocharged inline four that delivers smooth, consistent power via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Thus equipped, the 228i’s handling is superb. We’d be hard pressed to recall any car, at any price, that was as supple as this one without sacrificing riding quality. With the top down, buffeting breezes were kept to a minimum even at interstate-highway speeds (and then some) by the sharply raked windshield. Raising and lowering the top is an easy operation once you find the switch – it’s sometimes blocked by the movable top of the center console storage compartment.
Pricing is not out of line for this near-luxury compact convertible. The base price is $37,900. A long list of performance, safety and luxury options brought the sticker price to $53,825. Among the standard features are a leather-wrapped, multi-function sport steering wheel; BMW’s iDrive control system with 6.5-inch display; automatic climate control; cruise control; and SensaTec (leatherette) upholstery.
We put our 228i through its paces with two sets of golf clubs and, later, with two children in the back seat. The car has a back seat pass-through capable of accommodating two sets of clubs. The children fit reasonably comfortably in the back seat, but the front-seat passengers had to sacrifice quite a bit of leg room. The 228i is admirably fuel-efficient, considering its power and performance – 23 mpg city, 34 highway, using premium unleaded gasoline. In the final analysis, the 228i isn’t the most versatile of cars, but it can handle most situations not involving adult rear-seat passengers.
The 2 Series is available as a 2-door coupe or convertible, and the 235i is equipped with a 320-horsepower V-6 engine. Transmission choices are the 8-speed automatic and a no-cost optional 6-speed manual shifter. All-wheel drive is available in 228i coupe and convertible models, and the 235i coupe, with the automatic transmission.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ranks the 228i coupe a Top Safety Pick Plus. Data are unavailable on the convertible.
Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
Engine: 2.0-liter inline turbocharged Four, 240 horsepower, 255 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 3,345 lb.
Suspension: double-pivot front, 5-link rear
Wheels: 18-in. alloy
Tires: 225/40R18 front, 245/35R18 rear, performance
Seating capacity: 4
Luggage capacity: 13.8 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 13.7 gallons
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline