Like it or not, it’s summer. Sure, it’s hot and sticky and a major cause of high electricity bills, but it’s also the perfect justification for certain things.
Been denying yourself the cool, delicious indulgence of ice cream? Go get yourself a cone filled with your favorite flavor so you don’t melt on the pavement. You won’t have to feel self-conscious because you’re bound to walk past someone else doing the exact same thing.
Have you been wanting to get a new convertible, but waiting for the right time to get it? Summer’s the perfect season for dropping the top, cranking up the radio, and heading out for a beautiful, sunlit vacation at the beach, up in the mountains, or at that resort an hour away from your house you and your significant other have been promising yourselves you’d go to one day.
Like ice cream, BMW convertibles come in different flavors. If you’re craving a simple, pure experience (think one scoop in a bowl) take a look at the Z4 roadster. Want a classic, like chocolate? Try the 3 Series. For those of you in the mood for the automotive equivalent of three scoops served in a waffle cone with hot fudge sauce, chopped nuts, and a bright red cherry on top, there’s the M4 Convertible.
BMW recently let us sample what you can consider the baseline of its convertible (as opposed to roadster) assortment: the 2017 230i Convertible. Think of it like vanilla. It’s not the most exotic flavor there is, but it’s an important one for a company to get right. It gives you an idea of how delightful its other offerings can be.
Our test vehicle was equipped with rear-wheel drive. xDrive all-wheel drive is optional on the 230i and its sportier, turbo-I6-powered sibling, the M240i. The scorching heat down here in Texas meant we didn’t always have the 230i’s top down during our week with it. Whether it was stowed away or not, our experience behind the wheel of the 230i was a real treat.
2017 BMW 230i Convertible Exterior
“Vanilla” doesn’t have to mean “plain.” You can get it with cinnamon swirled in for a little kick. Our 230i had a rich coating of optional Valencia Orange and was topped with an optional brown soft top that could disappear under a hard tonneau cover in 22 seconds.
Thanks to the Lighting Package, our 230i lit the road ahead at night with the clarity of Xenon headlights. The Track Handling Package added several pieces of performance hardware, some more visible than others, such as a set of 18-inch wheels wrapped in low-profile Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance rubber. The blue calipers of the M Sport brakes peeked out from behind the wheels’ two-tone grey spokes.
A pronounced crease ran from the front fenders, through the door handles, and toward the tail lights. It gradually rose along the way, making the 230i look as if it were leaning slightly forward, eager to pounce on the next curve it came across. Although convertibles are meant to be seen topless, raising the 230i’s lid didn’t ruin its looks. Its proportions were in harmony with each other.
In the rear, the symmetry of the pair of juicy red tail light casings was offset below by the darkened dual exhaust tips on the driver’s side.
2017 BMW 230i Convertible Interior
The 230i’s bright exterior was perfectly complemented by the soft white of its optional Oyster Dakota leather interior. Red stitching on the steering wheel and metallic trim on the door handles, dashboard, and center console illuminated the cabin even more.
Our 230i was equipped with the Cold Weather Package, which, for obvious reasons, we didn’t need to use. However, the Premium Package’s universal garage door opener, keyless entry and start, power front seats, and SiriusXM satellite radio definitely came in handy. The same goes for the optional WiFi hotspot because sometimes we just wanted to listen to something that we could only find on YouTube. We also appreciated BMW’s decision to fit our media loaner with the optional navigation system. Getting lost in a convertible is only fun when you want to do that. The Harman Kardon premium audio system upgrade gave us even more incentive to turn up the volume as we sailed down the road and the wind blew through our hair.
We made a nighttime trip in the 230i out to the vineyards and distilleries of Dripping Springs, Texas with a front passenger (who was 6’2″)…and two more adults (one of whom was 5’8”) in the back. We had our doubts that it was going to be possible. The 230i proved that it was. It took moving the driver’s seat forward and some careful choreography from the rear passengers whenever they got into or out of the car, but it was worth it. All of that work did nothing to dull the pleasure we felt as we wound through curvy Texas Hill Country roads, the full moon high above gently lighting an unforgettable drive with friends who have given us so many pleasant memories.
2017 BMW 230i Convertible Performance
Some vanillas are richer than others. For instance, the M240i Convertible has a turbocharged 3.0-liter I6 with 335 horsepower and 369 lbft of torque under its hood. That doesn’t mean the 230i’s 2.0-liter turbo four power plant was unsatisfying, though. With 248 horsepower and 258 lbft, it was plenty sweet to us. Those numbers never felt as if they were too low to move the 3,680 pounds of curb weight around them with urgency (BMW states the 230i Convertible has a 0-60 mph time of 5.6 seconds). With the Driving Dynamics Control (DCC) set to Comfort mode and the eight-speed Sport Automatic in its normal setting (and the passenger load light or nonexistent), the 230i had more than enough pep. That beautiful moonlit night we had all four seats filled, we decided to unleash every drop of the 230i’s performance to compensate for all of the additional weight. We engaged DCC’s Sport+ setting and bumped the shifter to the left to activate its sport mode. Aside from some turbo lag, the 230i had no issues getting all of us down the straights and through the S-bends at a respectable rate. The ultimate test was pulling away from stopped traffic in the right lane and ahead of the cars zooming up behind us in the lane to our left. The 230i did not fail it.
Whether the 230i had one or four people in it, the Track Handling Package’s adaptive M suspension made it a comfortable place to be. The electronically controlled dampers constantly adjusted the suspension to the road and largely kept the bumps on its surface from turning into jolts to our spines. Even slight turns of the wheel allowed us to feel the variable sport steering’s eagerness to perform. It was a sensation that took getting used to, but it was never one that overpowered or tainted our driving experience.
2017 BMW 230i Convertible Safety
In addition to sport brakes that engaged near the top of the left pedal’s travel, our 230i review vehicle had a long list of safety features which included ABS, Dynamic Stability Control, Dynamic Traction Control, Brake Drying (for wet weather stopping), and a Rollover Protection System. In addition, it was packed with front, front seat-mounted side-impact, and driver and front passenger knee airbags.
2017 BMW 230i Convertible Overall
You can indulge your automotive sweet tooth with a 2017 BMW 230i Convertible for the starting price of $38,950*. With all of its options, our review vehicle had an as-tested price of $53,870. However you want to order your 230i Convertible, you can do it at an AutoNation-affiliated BMW dealership. Blame summer if you want to. We have a feeling you’ll want to thank it, though.
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.