All-new BMW 4 Series Convertible: return of the soft-top

  • Folding hard-top is no more; fabric roof is lighter and smaller
  • Opens in just 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph
  • Available to order now from £45,785, deliveries from March 2021

True to form, the all-new BMW 4 Series Convertible has been revealed as an open-topped accompaniment to the latest 4 Series Coupe, which arrived earlier in 2020.

Whether this is entirely good news depends upon your personal take on the aesthetics: while BMW has given with one hand by bestowing it with a more elegant rear end than its predecessor courtesy of reverting to a soft-top roof, it’s potentially taken away with the other if you can’t get along with that enormous front grille.

In truth, we suspect most would-be buyers will embrace – or simply accept – those gargantuan nostrils, and opt for the BMW primarily because they believe it to be the best of its ilk to drive.

Green 2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible front elevation

Given that its only true direct rivals are Audi’s comfortable and polished A5 Cabriolet and Mercedes-Benz’s ageing yet graceful C-Class Cabriolet, the omens are good.

Why has BMW ditched the 4 Series Convertible’s hard-top?

Fear not, for this isn’t a retrograde step by returning to a fabric roof. When folding hard-tops became popular for convertibles in the late-1990s they offered significant benefits in terms of roof-up refinement, but recent advances in soft-top technology has negated that.

Not only is the new 4 Series Convertible’s roof some 40% lighter than its predecessor’s metal version, its far less bulky, allowing the styling at the back to be more elegant. That it looks like an 8 Series Convertible that’s been in a hot wash is likely to please buyers of the 4 Series much more than it will owners of the more expensive model.

Green 2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible side elevation

With less space required when folded, the latest 4 Series Convertible’s boot capacity is a useful 300 litres, a volume that can be expanded to 385 litres when the roof’s closed.

Its operation takes just 18 seconds and works at speeds of up to 31mph, ideal for if a downpour occurs while you’re on the move.

Which engines are available?

When deliveries of the soft-top 4 Series begin in March 2021 the line-up will consist of the diesel-engined 420d sDrive and petrol-powered 420i sDrive, 430i sDrive and M440i xDrive. All barring the 420i and 430i feature 48-volt mild-hybrid technology to boost both power (by 11hp) and efficiency.

For those new to BMW’s naming conventions, sDrive means power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, while on xDrive versions it goes to all four.

With 374hp on tap and a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds, early focus will doubtless be on the swift M440i Convertible, but if your budget is more modest than its £59,645 price allows for then don’t despair. Even the entry-level 420i Convertible has 184hp and will complete the same 0-62mph benchmark in 8.2 seconds. Hardly tardy.

BMW’s already confirmed an expansion of the engine range in July 2021 with the arrival of new six-cylinder diesel versions, all with mild-hybrid benefits. The 430d sDrive packs 286hp, while the M440d xDrive ups the ante to 340hp. A combination of a 5.1-second 0-62mph time and an official claim of 44.8mpg sounds appealing, although it will cost in excess of £60,000.

An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard fare regardless of which engine is chosen.

Will there be a new M4 Convertible?

No official word yet, but given that BMW’s recently revealed the all-new M3 Saloon and M4 Coupe, the soft-top version won’t be far behind.

Expect the M4 Competition Convertible to cost close to £80,000 when order books do open, but for that you’ll get a 510hp 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine producing 650Nm of torque, which should result in a 0-62mph time of approximately 4.0 seconds.

Sporty focus over outright comfort

Make no bones about it, BMW’s flag-waving that the 4 Series Convertible is a drivers’ car is amplified by the fact it’s only available in M Sport and M Sport Pro Edition trim levels.

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible dashboard

Whether something more comfort-oriented – and less expensive – appears later will depend on demand, but given most versions of the outgoing version were M Sport-badged, we wouldn’t bet on it.

M Sport versions have a purposeful body kit, lower and firmer suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a leather interior with front sports seats, three-zone climate control and a 10.25-inch multimedia display as part of  generous equipment roster.

Bolstering the appeal further, the M Sport Pro Edition also features the otherwise optional M Sport Pro Package (BMW trim levels and options are nothing of not confusing), meaning it comes with black 19-inch alloy wheels, darkened headlamps, specific M-branded seatbelts, adaptive suspension and augmented engine sounds to make it aurally sportier from inside.

As was always the case, there’s a vast raft of individual options as well as bundled packages should you wish to dig even deeper.

What this means for you

While there’s not an enormous amount of choice these days for buyers of upmarket convertibles, the latest iteration of open 4 Series could prove to be the pick of the bunch.

A punchy suite of engines, handling know-how and a swish four-seater cabin are likely to prove a desirable combination. Plus, while you’re driving it, you don’t have to contemplate how the grille looks.

Orders can be placed now, with deliveries set for spring 2021 onwards.

Parkers will be among the first to drive the all-new BMW 4 Series Convertible, so keep this page bookmarked for the latest news and views.

Further reading

>> How good is the outgoing 4 Series Convertible? Read our review

>> Still fancy a coupe? These are the best of the best

>> Find out how much your car is worth with a Parkers valuation

Green 2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible rear three-quarter driving